Back in December of last year, Facebook announced that they were rolling out a new set of tools (or rather updating old tools) to help publishers better connect with their audience using Organic Targeting. I say updating old tools because Targeting on Facebook has actually been around since 2012, but back then organic reach was easier to achieve than it is now causing few people to actually use these tools. When Facebook made the announcement at the beginning of 2014 that they "expect organic distribution of an individual page's posts to gradually decline over time as [they] continually work to make sure people have a meaningful experience on the site", many began to wonder if it was time to give up on the idea of a "free Facebook" altogether.
While most, if not all brands have seen a decline in Facebook page reach in the last six months, these new targeting features may be a way to get your posts in front of the right audience and reclaim some of your lost organic reach.
How To Set Up Targeting
All pages have the ability to turn Targeting on. If you don't see the target symbol when you click to create a new post, it is disabled. To enable it, all you have to do is follow these four steps:
1. Click Settings. Make sure you're in the General tab on the left sidebar (available to admins only).
2. Select Targeting and Privacy for Posts.
3. Check Allow targeting and privacy options when I create posts on my page.
4. Save your changes.
What Is Interest Targeting?
Interest targeting allows the publisher to reach a more specific audience, similar to the feature set available when running Facebook Ads, only this is limited to current users who have liked your page. Interest targeting lets you define your ideal audience by their interests, hobbies and Pages they like. Facebook combs through their Timeline, keywords associated with the Pages they like or apps they use, ads they've clicked on, and other similar sources to identify interests. Previously with Organic Targeting you could only target posts based on the following:
Why Use Interest Targeting?
Most pages have a wide variety of fans of varying levels of importance and engagement. There's always going to be some percentage of fans that are simply friends, family, users who are no longer active on Facebook, or don't engage for whatever reason. While you probably don't mind having the added numbers, these unengaged fans are probably hurting your organic reach. One of the main filters that Facebook's new algorithm uses when deciding what to let into people's Newsfeed, is checking how many people engage with or hide posts.
The problem that a lot of pages run into, is that regardless of the post, your fan base is made up of a lot of casual fans. By showing your content to people who are most likely to engage with it, the theory is that you you will have a higher engagement rate even though the actual "reach" is lower. This should also help Facebook show your post to more people because it will look more appealing to the filtering algorithm.
A recent experiment done by Social Media Examiner showed that smaller pages have more success than larger pages when it comes to Organic Post Targeting. Using the same criteria and posts for two separate pages (the larger page with over 300,000 likes and the smaller with about 15,000 likes), SME found that while engagement for the larger page saw only a small uptick in engagement percentage, the smaller page saw it's engagement percentage nearly double. While this is only a small sample size, it nonetheless shows that Organic Post Targeting has the potential to increase your engagement.
They key here is trial and error. Interest Targeting will only work as well as you set it up to and how accurately you choose interests for each post. While this will take more work than just posting, there is the potential for a much greater return on your time.
The Other Tools
Post End Date: This new tool allows Page admins to set up a specific day and time to stop showing a post in News Feed. While the posts will still be visible on your page, this feature will prevent people from seeing out-of-date posts. This could be used for sales or events for example, and should help to minimize instances where an older post hurts your engagement percentage because it is no longer relevant.
This is now available to all Pages that have enabled the Targeting and Privacy setting, and is currently only accessible on desktop.
Smart Publishing: Now you can automatically have Facebook display your most shared content in the news feeds of people who like your page. Once you enable this setting, frequently shared links to your website can appear in News Feed for people who like your Page. Those posts will not appear on your Page, but you'll have access a new dashboard in Insights to see analytics, moderate comments, and choose which you want to post to your Page.
Smart Publishing is currently available to a limited number of media organizations. Page admins can opt into Smart Publishing from the Publisher Tools section within Page settings.
Improved Insights: More accurate and actionable analytics features include a new Top URLs section, which displays URL-level reporting and shows when other Pages and influencers share a post you've made to Facebook, and a way to segment data based on specific time frames, including hourly insights.