Have you ever wondered what percentage of people actually see your Tweets or Facebook posts?

The data shows it can be as low as 2%.

This is in line with our findings at Buffer — on average our 10 most recent Facebook posts have reached around 2.4% of our fans with our highest reaching post being seen by 5.25%.

When you work hard to produce and share great content, it’d be great if people could see it! I’m excited to share some things we’ve found that can help your content break through and reach more of your fans across any social network.

Do you want more people to see your social media posts? Read on for some our of best tips on increasing your reach.

pablo maximize reach

First things first: What is reach?

When discussing reach, it’s important to distinguish between potential reach and actual reach as they tend to be vastly different numbers.

1. Potential reach

Potential reach is the audience your content can potentially reach based on total follower count.

For instance, if you have 3,000 Twitter followers, your potential reach would be 3,000.

followers

At Buffer we also take into consideration the reach of anyone who reshares your post. For example, if you have 3,000 followers and someone who retweets you has 2,000 followers, your potential reach would be 5,000.

Here’s an example of how we display potential reach within Buffer analytics:

followers w retweets

2. Actual reach

The actual reach of your post is usually a lot lower than your potential reach. This number tells you how many people actually saw your post in their Twitter timeline or Facebook News Feed, for example.

Other terms for this stat include impressions and views.

To give you a real-world example of this, at Buffer our Facebook page has a potential reach of just over 40,000 people (all the people who’ve liked our page). , However, as you can see in the image below, the actual reach of our posts is a lot lower (our posts reach an average of 2,000–3,000 total people per day via Facebook).

buffer-facebook-insights

Increasing your reach on any social network

Every social network is different when it comes to increasing your reach. For example, specific tactics that work well on Facebook don’t necessarily succeed on Twitter as well.

There are, however, some universal methods that will that can help you on any network and I’d love share three with you now:

Experiment

When James Dyson invented his first Dual Cyclone vacuum cleaner, he spent 15 years creating 5,126 versions that failed before he made one that worked.

Without years of experimentation, Dyson would have never built a multi-billion dollar company off the back of his vacuum cleaner.

Social networks are exactly the same. Without trial and error you may find yourself struggling to figure out what content works specifically for you and what helps you reach the highest number of people.

Three experiments you can run today in under 5 minutes:

  • Copy length: there’s an optimal length for everything online, however, in the name of experimentation you could try sharing longer or shorter posts to see how they perform for you.
  • Posting time: a time you least expect, could end up being the best time for you to post. Without experimentation you may never find out. A super-easy way to test various times is to set up a new posting schedule within Buffer.
  • Post type: many social networks offer various types of posts (image, video, GIF), trying mixing up the types of posts you share and see what performs best.

Measure

There’s an old saying, “what’s not measured can’t be improved,” and it’s become a bit of a cliché in the marketing world. But there’s good reason for that.

Measurement is an essential part of any marketing campaign. It helps you keep a close eye on how you’re performing versus your targets and also goes a long way to helping identify ways you can improve.

If you want to increase your reach on any social network, you could start measuring more data to help you define what’s working and what can be improved.

Listen

At Buffer one of our values is, ‘Listen first, then listen more’. As Courtney explains over at the Open blog:

[Listening] encompasses so much: Being truly interested what is said (without focusing on what you’ll say back), listening for the deeper meaning of what has been said, asking the right questions to move the conversation forward and so much more.

The notion of listening for deeper meaning of what has been said can be so powerful for marketers as well.

By listening to what your audience talks about and paying close attention to what types of content they regularly share, you can start to build a content strategy that will resonate with these people and increase your reach.

How to increase reach on Facebook

As a social media manager I used to spend countless hours working with clients to try and maximize organic Facebook reach.

At times, with Facebook updating algorithms quite often, there’re always new tests to try to see what can be improved. The great thing about this challenge is that it inspires creativity and helps you to experiment more with different types of posts.

How to track your organic reach on Facebook

Facebook Insights can give you so much valuable data, including the reach of each post you’ve shared on your page.

To view your reach, go to any Facebook page for which you are an admin and click the Insights link at the top of the page:

buffer-fb-page

Then once you’re within Facebook Insights, head on over to the Posts option and you’ll get this neat breakdown showing the reach of each of your posts.

fb-page-insights

When you’re digging into the data here, pay close attention to the post’s “Type” as you may be able to see some trends for which types of post (photo, link, video, text) generate the most reach for your page.

Using Buffer

As an Awesome or Business customer you can also track the reach of your Facebook posts using Buffer analytics.

To do this head over to your Buffer dashboard, select Analytics, click Posts, and then choose Most Reach from the dropdown menu.
buffer-analytics-reach

Buffer will then automatically sort your posts by most reach. Here’s how it looks within the Buffer dashboard:
most-reached-post

3 Top Facebook Tips

1. Optimize targeting

Admins with Facebook Pages over 100 fans can target updates based on gender, relationship status, educational status, age, location, language, and interests.

This allows you to create more personal, super targeted posts for your Page’s audience. People will be more likely to engage with and share content if they feel like it relates to them. This approach is why Buzzfeeds’s hyper targeted content is so popular.

The below GIF shows you how to optimize targeting for your Facebook Page posts:
FB-targeting

If the option to target your posts isn’t displaying, you may need to change a setting for your Page posts. To do this:

  1. Click Settings at the top of your Page
  2. Click News Feed Audience and Visibility for Posts
  3. Click to check the box next to Allow News Feed audience selection and post visibility options for this Page
  4. Click Save Changes

fb-settings

2. Embed posts

Embedding Facebook posts into your blog content can be a fantastic way to increase reach. By doing this, everyone who checks out your blog post will also be able to see and engage with your Facebook post.

To embed a post, click the dropdown in the top right of the post and then select ‘Embed Post’. If you don’t see that option right away, you may need to click ‘See more options’ for it to display.

embed-facebook-post

As an example, here’s an embedded post from our Facebook page where Kevan explains the Buffer optimal timing tool:

Find your best times to post, using Buffer’s optimal timing tool! Kevan shows you how 🙂

Posted by Buffer on Friday, 25 September 2015

3. Try different post types

On Facebook there are various types of posts you can share on your page. Some of the most popular post types that can affect your reach include: photo posts, link posts, video posts and text-only posts.

According to Social Bakers’ 2014–2015 analysis of 670K posts on 4,445 brand pages, the most effective post types for Facebook are now videos (which are on average reach 8.71% of fans), followed by text-only posts (5.77% of fans), and then links (5.29% of fans).The average organic reach for image posts is now at just 3.73%.

To give that data a little context, if you have 100 fans on your Facebook page, on average:

  • Almost nine of your fans will see a video post
  • Around 6 of your fans will see text-only posts
  • 5 of your fans will see link posts
  • And just under 4 of your fans will see an image post

How to increase reach on Twitter

Twitter says that marketers can hit an audience equal in size to 30% of their followers in a given week with consistent posting and without spending a dollar on Twitter ads.

 

A survey of 200 brands found that those that drive the highest organic reach on Twitter utilize one or more of these tactics:

  • Leverage real-time cultural moments like live sports events, awards shows or trending conversations.
  • Mention influencer usernames with large followings or high-volume hashtags in Tweets.
  • Include auto-expanded photos or videos paired with short, conversational copy.

Let’s quickly dive into each of those tactics in a little more detail.

1. Leverage real-time

Twitter is amazing for conversations and content during real-time events and many brands have found success by leveraging real-time.

You may have seen the infamous Arby’s Tweet from the Grammys go viral or KitKat iPhone6 #bendgate Tweet. These examples show that if couple the right content with the perfect timing, your reach can go through the roof.

Real-time content can be amazing for your reach, but you should also carefully consider these two things before posting real-time content:

  • Do you have a reason to join the conversation?
  • Can you stay true to your brand?

Here’s a great example of real-time content from British Airways, who managed to keep their message on brand when the Royal Baby was born in the UK:
British airways tweet

2. Mention influencers and hashtags

Influencers can really help amplify your content and increase your reach. By @-mentioning an influencer in one your Tweets, there’s a chance they’ll see it and retweet it, thus boosting your reach.

The best technique here isn’t to ask directly for retweets from influencers, but to create an awesome, relevant Tweet and mention them. If you can build a relationship with an influencer prior to mentioning them, you’ll also boost your chances of a share.

Hashtags can also greatly increase your reach, with Tweets that contain one or more hashtag being 55 percent more likely to be retweeted.

hashtags-retweets
With Buffer analytics we’ll also show you how retweets increase the potential reach of your posts:

buffer-potential-reach

3. Photo and video

Twitter is increasingly becoming a visual network and adding photos and videos to your Tweets could help you greatly increase reach.

A Twitter study found that on average photos receive a 35% boost in Retweets and videos get a 28% boost.

effect-of-retweets

The key to success on Twitter is consistency, while every individual Tweet may not reach all of your followers, a strategy focused on great content and consistent posting can help you boost reach.

How to increase reach on Instagram

Reach is hard to measure on Instagram, though with the release of their ads product and close links with Facebook hopefully we’ll be able to get more data in the not-to-distant future.

In the meantime, here are a couple of great ways to build up your audience and get Instagram content in front of more people.

1. User generated content

Ed Maughan, who recently built up an audience of 1,000 engaged Instagram followers in 14 days, encouraged people to tag their pictures with #discovercymru for a chance to be featured on his account.

This led to 300 posts being shared on the hashtag in 14 days, leaving Ed with plenty of fantastic, engaging content to share with his audience.

discover-wales

2. Hashtags

Much like Twitter you can use hashtags to help increase the reach of your content on Instagram. In fact, if you want to grow a following and increase your reach, hashtags could be your best bet.

You can check up-to-date stats on the most popular Instagram hashtags over at Websta.

How to increase reach on Pinterest

Did you know that, on average, the half-life of a single Pinterest pin is three and a half months? Fifty percent of visits to a pin happen after three and a half months of first posting.

If you can increase your reach on Pinterest you’re also likely to benefit from a web traffic boost as well — according to a recent Shareaholic study, Pinterest drives 5.06% of overall visits to sites around the web.

Here are two ways to increase your Pinterest reach:

1. Add Pin buttons to your blog

One of the best ways to increase your reach on Pinterest is to encourage sharing directly from your blog.
sumome-sharer

SumoMe has a great image sharer plugin to make your content easily shareable on Pinterest, Twitter and Facebook, and Pinterest has their own official Hover Pin It WordPress plugin.

2. Create eye-catching images

A study by Dan Zarella found that taller images get more shares on average on Pinterest.

The great news here is that you don’t need to be an amazing designer to create eye-catching images for Pinterest. Tools like Pablo make it super easy to design and create an image in 30 seconds.

pablo

With Pablo you can create perfectly sized, tall images for Pinterest and even add your own logo or watermark.

How to increase reach on Linkedin

On Linkedin you’ll typically reach around 20% of your following with each update you send.

To check your reach on Linkedin, visit your company page, click Analytics and your reach will be displayed.

linkedin-reach

 

Top LinkedIn tip: Post during business hours

If you want to reach more people with your content, then it’s best to publish it at the times they’re around. Data from Linkedin shows that their business times morning and midday, Monday through Friday.

If you’re looking to post consistently during business across the week you can use Buffer to save time and schedule your posts to go live each day of the week at the time you choose.

You can even add feeds from your favorite blogs to Buffer to speed up content curation and save yet more time.

Over to you

What are your top tips for increasing reach on any social network?

Have you found particular success with any tactics?

I’d love to hear your thoughts and learn from your experience in the comments below. Please feel free to drop in your thoughts or questions.

Thanks a bunch for reading!

Image sources: IconFinder, Pablo, UnSplash

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Written by Ash Read

Content crafter at Buffer. I’m fascinated by storytelling, entrepreneurship, and travel. When I’m not writing, you’ll usually find me on a football pitch or basketball court.

  • Andrew Stapleton

    Great article. I am very interested in the ability to post targeted updates to Facebook pages. I am unable to see the option to post to targeted audiences. Is this an option to business pages? I have well over 100 likes.

    • Targeting is an option for business pages which allow you to target based on things like gender, relationship status, educational status, age, location, language, and interests. You can use targeting by clicking the bulls-eye that appears when composing a Facebook message. Targeting isn’t currently available within Buffer.

      • Hassan Aman Bercha

        ”…when composing a Facebook message,” do you mean an Update? I am having the same issue as Andrew, 1000 followers on our business page but cannot see the Bulls-eye. Or is it a feature for Boosted/Paid posts?

        • Hi there Hassan, thanks for dropping by the comments here. I had a quick dive into this and you may need to change a setting within your page to allow post targeting:

          1. Click Settings at the top of your Page

          2. Click News Feed Audience and Visibility for Posts

          3. Click to check the box next to Allow News Feed audience selection and post visibility options for this Page

          4. Click Save Changes

          Does this work for you? Thanks again, Hassan. 🙂

    • Tudor Stanciu

      Would love to hear an answer on this as well 🙂

      • Hey there Tudor, thanks so much for reading the post and dropping by the comments. Does the above comment help out at all? 🙂

        • Tudor Stanciu

          Hey Ash! Yeah, it was actually right there in front of me – silly me! Thanks nonetheless 🙂

    • Hi there Andrew, thanks so much for your comment. I’ve had a little look around and it seems in some cases you may need to change a setting within your Facebook page to allow post targeting. To do this:

      1. Click Settings at the top of your Page

      2. Click News Feed Audience and Visibility for Posts

      3. Click to check the box next to Allow News Feed audience selection and post visibility options for this Page

      4. Click Save Changes

      Does this help, Andrew? Looking forward to getting to the bottom of this one together. Thanks a million! 🙂

  • Tudor Stanciu

    I have been engaging individually with everyone following me on Twitter, pointing them to a conference I’m organising at the moment – I’ve seen both followers and site viewership increasing as a result of that.

  • The concept of reach vs. impressions/actual reach is one that many have a very difficult time understanding. I’ve spent a lot of time with many folks explaining the differences and why reach is a number they should try to ignore.

    The research Dan Zarella has done is fascinating. I notice it cited by Buffer countless times. I’d be interested to know if there is any newer research that has either continued to support his findings or shows different results. Social media changes fast and his most recent research posts are now over a year old.

    With every social following, your impressions and reach will differ based on the quality and engagement of the following. Most will never see impressions or reach larger than their own following while some will consistently see a reach much larger than their own. Remember that all following are not created equal.

  • Joe Alongi

    I really enjoy reading these, I feel that a lot of people could read these and really use them to develop their media understanding.

    I feel that often on Twitter the syntax limits the reach of the user. For example (User A) at the football game tweets “What a play”, (User B) also tweets about the same experience, but expresses it differently; “What a play, the crowd is going wild here at (stadium name) #town #teamnickname .

    User A may not understand why they are seeing little engagement, but User B has a more developed concept of capturing the moment for sharing and should see more interaction.

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  • What about Google+?

  • MPA

    Ash – Thanks for the great article. Learned a lot! We really would love to see FB targeting through Buffer. Any chance of that happening in the near future?

  • Sara M.

    Great article!! I find using Twitter Lists not only helps curate great content but also allows me to start some wonderful relationships. It takes the noise out of the news feed and packages it with similar content. Following up with users is the perfect way to court a potential customer!

  • Great tips. The 2% statistic for Facebook is both affirming and super demoralising at the same time. Just checked our forward schedule posts – you don’t seem to be able to add targeting to something that is already scheduled by going back and editing, but you can add it before you hit schedule. It will be interesting to compare targeted results for some of the upcoming posts.

  • Milica Slijepčević

    Thanks a lot, I will do this @mslijepcevic1

  • Great post Ash, thanks a lot! Very useful tips. Seems like the targeted post updates on Facebook are not available here in the Czech Republic. Maybe only in the US. Just wanted to notify you so might add a small short note in the section.

  • Another…huge article. That’s all I can say! I wish you a Happy New Year 2016. Philippe