How to Get Noticed on Facebook Without Paying for Sponsored Links

rsz_computerwithphone by Tim Parker on April 1, 2013
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Did anybody think social media companies would make their user base available free of charge forever? Facebook now has more than 1 billion monthly users, some 618 million daily users, and 680 million mobile users. Although the company was once widely criticized for failing to monetize its user base, its practices have started to change.

Facebook is learning to generate revenue from user base, which is bad news for the small businesses that crafted a marketing strategy around the popular platform.

New York Times columnist Nick Bilton describes how he had a Facebook subscriber list of 25,000 and would receive 535 “likes” after posting a link to one of his columns. His subscriber list has since grown to 400,000, but he now averages only 30 “likes” per post. He did an experiment and found that when he paid $7 to promote a post on Facebook, he had a 1,000 percent increase in interaction.

Although Facebook denies that it has tweaked its algorithm to force people into paying for more exposure, independent studies appear to indicate that recent changes have had an impact on overall reach.

If you don’t want to pay for sponsored content, how can you increase the chances that your posts will still gain exposure? Here are four tips.

1. Turn on “get notifications.” EdgeRank is Facebook’s algorithm that decides which posts will be in front of the eyes of your fans and which won’t. Remember the days when the little red number at the top of your page would alert you to a new posting on pages you liked? That’s now turned off by default when a person likes your page. Have your fans turn it on by going to your business’s page, hovering over the Liked box, and clicking “get notifications.” Then, pin the post to the top of your page, so it stays within view of your new fans.

2. Use images. You’ve probably noticed that since Facebook changed its news feed to make images more prominent, their use has taken off. A HubSpot study found that when photos are posted on pages they receive 53 percent more “likes” than the average post. It also found that the average number of comments per post on images is 104 percent higher than on other types of content.

3. Don’t abandon text. Brandon Duncombe, social media manager at Bargaineering.com says, “Regardless of the medium, you’ll still need to have text in your posts that draws users in. Asking open-ended questions and encouraging debate grabs eyeballs. But always make it relevant to what you want the user to ultimately do (click on an image, watch a video, click on a link, etc.).”

4. “Like” other pages. View other business and nonprofit pages while using Facebook as your business instead of as an individual. Share their interesting posts or announcements on your page. This may prompt others to share your content, which means fans of other pages will see your name. It also puts fresh content on your page without a lot of work.

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