If you feel challenged by Facebook marketing these days, you should know you’re not alone.

In an increasingly crowded news feed, Facebook’s algorithm updates can make it tough for brands to get much notice.

In fact, brands are now responding to plunging organic reach on Facebook by posting more content to Instagram than they are to Facebook, according to a report by research firm L2.

But don’t despair; there’s plenty of life left in Facebook yet. We’ve been scouring the web to find out what’s working on Facebook right now—all the tactics, new additions and post types you need to know today.

Here are 12 top tactics to take a look at adding to your Facebook marketing toolbox.

Facebook tactics

1. Post native videos

Our Number One strategy for your Facebook marketing right now? Video.

We got this tip straight from Facebook queen Mari Smith back in February, when she said:

“Let’s talk about video: Facebook is absolutely taking traffic from Youtube right now with video.

What happens with autoplay, it’s all psychology. They come in through your newsfeed, start to see a tiny bit of movement, boom, it draws them in. They’ll stop and play your video. Make it short, quick and easy, with a call to action.”

Since then, even more evidence of video’s prowess has emerged.

Social media analytics company Socialbakers looked at more than 670,000 posts by 4,445 brand pages to find that video posts had organic reach of 8.71%, far higher than text-only statuses’ 5.77%, link posts’ 5.29% and photo posts’  3.73%.

SocialBakers study

 

Here at Buffer, we’ve seen the video effect firsthand. Notice anything about the two posts from our Facebook Insights with the highest reach and interactions? Both videos!

Buffer video analytics

3 ways to use video on Facebook:

Post it natively: Posting directly to Facebook seems to provide better results than linking to video from sites like YouTube or Vimeo

Choose a featured video: Facebook allows you to pick one featured video that gets a prominent place on your Page. Here’s ours right now:

featured video

Create video playlists: Group related pieces of content together in a Facebook video playlist (Note: This one may not be available to everyone just yet)

2. Share quote photos

A tactic that is still going strong is creating and sharing quote photos. Mike Gingerich, writing at Social Media Examiner, does a great job of explaining the perennial popularity of these pics:

“People love inspirational quotes that motivate them or elicit a particular emotion, which in turn can lead to post interaction, especially shares.

A Facebook share plays a huge part in social proof and can result in many new friends of fans finding (and liking) your page. These new eyes are an opportunity for you to start the relationship-building process.”

I really love the awesome job Kim Garst of Boom Social is doing with shareable quotes. Check out the engagement she gets with images like these:shareable quotes:

At Buffer, we believe so strongly in the future of social media images like these that we created a new tool to help you make them quickly and easily.

We’ve also written about lots of other image-making tools so you can be sure to find the best one for you.

Note that there’s some evidence that posting photos to Facebook might not be the best strategy right now, so your mileage with this tactic could vary.

3. Target your organic posts

If Facebook is limiting your posts to a smaller audience, why not make sure it’s exactly the audience you have in mind?

Targeting was once more of an ads feature, but since Facebook has rolled out new tools for publishers, more brands seem to be experimenting with targeting audiences for even organic posts.

Social Media Examiner did some experimenting with mixed results: They discovered that some targeted posts “definitely had higher engagement than posts that didn’t use targeting.”

av-engagement-rate-posts

The authors at SME concluded that this tactic seems to have potential particularly for smaller pages.

If you might fall into that category, here’s a great guide to getting started targeting from Social Media Week:

Jon Loomer has quite an in-depth guide if you’re interested in diving into this topic at length.

4. Engage your CTA button

Late in 2014, Facebook introduced a call-to-action button designed to bring a business’s most important objective to the forefront of its Facebook presence.

For visitors landing on your page for the first time, make sure you make the most of this addition and add the most appropriate CTA available.
At present, page admins can select from seven calls to action:

  • Book Now
  • Contact Us
  • Use App
  • Play Game
  • Shop Now
  • Sign Up
  • Watch Video

CTA button

5. Try dark posts

Dark posting on Facebook is publishing a post that does not appear on your page’s timeline. Instead, these posts are targeted to a select audience of your choosing.

Why might this be helpful? Split testing is one great use of dark posts. You can create three or four different variations of the same post, then send them out to see which type performs best (without flooding your timeline with each and every variation).

Here’s how to find this Facebook tool:

Click Power Editor in the left column of your Facebook ads manager. (Note: Power editor is only available for Chrome browsers.)

power editor facebook

From here, you’ll want to click Download to Power Editor at the top of the page to download the accounts you want to manage.

Strata Blue has put together a list of very detailed instructions on where to go from here in order to build your dark posts. You can follow their instructions to try this out.

6. Zero in on your key topics

A recent Moz whiteboard Friday focused on the topic of driving traffic from Facebook and included lots of solid tips from Buffer pal Rand Fishkin.

One I’d like to highlight here is Rand’s tips to learn what works for you on Facebook by using Buzzsumo:

“Learn what does work in your topics in Facebook. There’s a great tool for this. It’s called BuzzSumo. You can plug in keywords and see the pieces of content that over the past six months or a year have performed the best across social networks, and you can actually filter directly by Facebook to see what’s done best on Facebook in my niche, with my topics, around my subjects. That’s a great way to get at what might work in the future, what doesn’t work, what will resonate, and what won’t.”

You can search for specific keywords on BuzzSumo, or filter by your own domain to see what you’ve created that did well that you could drive inspiration from:

Buzzsumo for Facebook idea generation

7. Up your posting frequency

Another no-nonsense tactic to counter lowered Facebook reach is to simply up your posting frequency.

Writing on Social Fresh, Dennis Yu observed that overall, total interactions per day on Facebook increase linearly with posts per day.

At the same time, negative feedback doesn’t seem correlated to posting more frequently:

negative feedback

Dennis notes that some pages post 30-40 times per day and get less negative feedback as a proportion of total engagement.

If you’re able to keep a close eye on your Facebook Insights, why not try upping your Facebook frequency?

8. Get creative with Trending Topics

As Facebook moves ever closer into real-time when it comes to Trending Topics, I find myself clicking on these newsy topics more and more often.

And when I do, I notice that right below the details of whatever news item I’m checking out are more posts from others I’m connected to or even a few degrees away from. For example, checking out the latest news on “The Walking Dead” brought me this post from marketer (and future Buffer Social guest post author!) Jeff Goins.

Jeff Goins trending topics

Jeff’s post is a great example of taking advantage of Trending Topics in a way that feels personal and organic, not spammy and forced. Could you something similar?

9. Study your negative feedback

Sometimes discovering what your audience didn’t like is one of your best strategies for making them happier with your content in the future.

Facebook Insights offers up four types of negative feedback (find it under the “Posts” section):

  • hide post
  • hide all posts
  • report page as spam
  • unlike page

negative feedback

Facebook offers you these stats as a raw number; however it might be handy to think on this number as a  ratio relative to your overall interactions as well.

Studying negative feedback can help you better identify which types of posts your audience perceived as spam or chose to hide at a higher rate. Over time, you might discover patterns to help guide your post types, themes and language use.

10. Keep testing

No doubt Facebook is a different place for brands than it has been in the past, but success is still possible. Facebook offers this as a guiding strategy:

Organic content still has value on Facebook, and Pages that publish great content — content that teaches people something, entertains them, makes them think, or in some other way adds value to their lives — can still reach people in News Feed. However, anticipating organic reach can be unpredictable, and having a piece of content “go viral” rarely corresponds to a business’s core goals. Your business will see much greater value if you use Facebook to achieve specific business objectives, like driving in-store sales or boosting app downloads.

With that in mind, I enjoyed this case study from Search Engine Journal of a set of experiments that grew organic reach 219% in a month. The article offers plenty of inside peeks to help you recreate a similar testing strategy:

Facebook case study

Two more tactics to keep an eye on for the future

I thought I’d leave you with a few really creative examples.

These two up-and-coming tactics may not be available to all of us right now, but they’re a good sign of where Facebook could be headed soon.

11. 3-D ads

jameson-shot-glass-frame

For Saint Patrick’s Day, Jameson promoted its whiskey with the first 3-D video Facebook ad—an attention-grabbing video of a shot glass skating across a bar.

I happened to be targeted by this ad, and the autoplay of video plus the breaking of Facebook’s visual frame definitely caught my attention!

12. Cinemagraphs

Cinemagraphs — still photographs that incorporate subtle, looping video elements — could be another future eye-catcher on Facebook, taking utmost advantage of Facebook’s video autoplay.

AdWeek reports that Facebook is banking big on the stylized GIFs as it introduces them to advertisers, and the Wall Street Journal notes that Heineken has been used cinemagraphs on Facebook for the past few months.

HubSpot has collected a bunch of neat cinemagraphs on their blog. Here’s one:
cinemagraph example

Can you imagine using images like this in your marketing one day soon?
 Have you been experimenting with any new tactics or types of posts on Facebook? I’d love to hear what’s been working for you in the comments!

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Written by Courtney Seiter

Courtney writes about social media, diversity and workplace culture at Buffer. She runs Girls to the Moon on the side and pets every dog she sees.

  • Thanks for these tips Courtney, videos have always worked great but last year posting a native video got over 400 likes in organic reach and videos of the same caliber struggle to get 100 likes.

    Great idea on studying negative feedback, going to do that today.

    • Thanks, Luiz! Would love to hear how it goes for you; I’m super curious to dive into that one deeply for our account as well!

  • Great tips, Courtney! Fascinating (in a weird sort of way) about Luiz’ experience with video, and the changing response from last year to now! :-O

    I’m a solo freelancer, and I’d love to know if you have any recommendations for creating “good” videos… So many of my peers say: “Just take it with your iPhone! It will be fine!” but that is totally unacceptable in my mind! I cringe every time I hear that! 😉

    I’d love to have video (I’d love to video my free WP training that I do through meetup) but I don’t even know where to start.

    Thanks for any advice! 🙂

    • Hi Karen, if you’re camera shy then don’t force yourself on camera. Instead use screencasting and graphics over your voice-over. I’ve used PowerPoint and Quicktime to get it done. Some use Screenflow or Camtasia to record their presentations and voice at the same time. Audiences see a pic of me, but not real video.

      For your WP meet ups, I would just record the audio. Forget video, just get really good audio. Then edit your slides over the audio using an editing software that I mentioned. I say forget video because it requires good lighting and camera positioning. Audiences are more interested in your content than they are in seeing you.

      But if you really want to try on camera video at your meet ups, try Google Hangouts On Air or YouTube’s native live streaming. Message me on LinkedIn or at SheerSocial (dot)com if you’d like more info.

      • Hi Alice,
        Huge thanks for your info! 🙂
        I’m definitely not camera shy, but was thinking of recording just my audio presentation and the slides…they don’t need to see me! 😉

        I have looked at screencasting like Camtasia, but the learning curve (meaning time it would take to not only learn but to actually DO the editing and screencasting seems enormous!)

        I have used Google Hangouts in the past for a couple of meetups, but wasn’t happy with the quality of the audio…

        Guess I’ll try recording just the audio, and trying to sync it with my slides…I know I can record audio in PowerPoint, but recording audio during the live presentation could also catch questions from the students, which could be valuable to others listening in later…

        Thanks again for your input & your offer to help! 🙂

  • Thanks for this great write up Courtney! Kinda looking forward to the Cinemagraphs. Wonder if they will filter over to Instagram. For me the image quotes work sometimes, but I use images I know my audience is really familiar with…like images from the shows I know my fan page audience watches.

    I was just thinking about doing more vids today. But I lack consistency to do it once a week. And too bad Facebook isn’t friends anymore with YouTube, so you’re somewhat forced to upload to FB and YouTube separately.

    Will definitely share your post!

    • Great question, Alice! Yup, i think the Jameson example also had an Instagram counterpart. Great tactic on the images! Knowing your audience is the best strategy possible!

  • Thanks for the tips Courtney.

    I’ve been sharing quotes on my page whenever I have no idea on what to post. It can really produce results.

    And I also found out that sharing viral images occasionally can work wonders. But the key is to not overdo it.

    Will try out some of the tactics and hopefully it can return positive results as well. 🙂

    P.S. You can use tools like http://yescharis.com/ to find great quotes and viral images.

  • Wow, cinemagraphs definitely have great potential, especially if we managed to have movement toward a CTA. It could be very interesting to study!

    Do you know how those are created?

  • Guest

    I am a bit puzzled by a quote photos recommendation, hasn’t one of the recent updated slammed the organic reach of all images, even links with image previews. I definitely noticed that text only statuses reach more people than the images.

  • A bit puzzled by recommendation #2- Quote Photos. Hasn’t recent acebook update slammed the organic reach of all posts with images, even if it is a link preview with an image seems to suffer. I carried out some experiments and the text only posts on my pages all reach more people than any of the same page’s image posts

    • Great question; you’re absolutely right! This study says photos now drive the lowest reach on Facebook: http://marketingland.com/want-maximum-reach-facebook-dont-post-photos-118536 I think not all photos are created equal, though. If you’ve got an engaging image that asks a fun/interesting question and you’ve built up an audience that wants to talk with you and one another, you can still have lots of success with this tactics. But those are quite a few “ifs” 🙂

      • yes, creative approach is required, but as Facebook cannot distinguish between good or bad photos, this tactic is becoming so much more challenging. You are trying to engage a much smaller selection of people. I work with mostly small businesses with Facebook pages fans ranging from 500 to 8500, and when I see that a very engaging (in my opinion) photo quote on a page with 8500 likes only reached 118 people, it breaks my heart… And this is after posting a giveaway that got lots of comments, so you expect to reach these people in the following days at least. But then a text only posts shows to 400 people… this particular business being a ladies fashion boutique relies heavily on image posts and now their Facebook Marketing effort are simply disheartening for them. Anyway, thank you for a great post and the reply!

        • Sure thing! This is one of those “your mileage may vary” tactics depending on the community you’ve developed, so it’s great to have this discussion. 🙂 Thanks for sharing your views so eloquently!

  • Trevor Barre

    great tips, esp the use of video on the fb page, thanks

    Trevor Barre

    http://www.liveeachadventure.com/

  • ronellsmith

    Courtney, I recently killed off my personal Facebook page in hopes of starting anew with a more business-y page. These tips give me hope that I’ll find the platform worthwhile when I return 🙂

    Eager to see you at Mozcon.

    RS

    • Oh wow, what an exciting move, Ronell! A clean slate sounds like a nice project! Excited to see you, too; can’t wait to chat in person!

  • Thanks so much for putting this together, Courtney! The changes Facebook has made recently have been frustrating for social media marketers but this article gives me hope! I’ve been having a little success with quote photos but not as much as before. I’m definitely moving toward videos because they can capture your passion so much better than photos and status updates.

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    • Hey Bobbi! Ah, that’s great to know about quote photos. So awesome to hear you’re having success with video; it’s a lot of fun!

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  • Kim Garst is a great example of good Facebook posting. Facebook seems to be changing all the time lately. It is definitely better from a user point of view but can be difficult for marketers. I believe the best way to use your social media pages is to share stories about your business or brand or people, rather than trying to “Push a Sales Pitch”. It gets a better response from most audiences as well as involving your potential customers in your business, helps build trust. That’s my 2 cents. Thanks for the great read Courtney! 🙂

    • I definitely agree, David; that’s my favorite approach for sure! Thanks so much for stopping by to share your smart thoughts! 🙂

  • One technique I’ve found that’s been very effective for client pages I manage is sharing native video from other pages, and scheduling them based on our Insights data. Rather than clicking the “Share” button, click on the timestamp on the post and then copy the URL that appears when the post opens in a new window. Paste that to your page’s status publisher to target and schedule as you wish. Great article Courtney!

  • Excellent post, lots of great ideas!

  • I can back you up on the native video posts for sure. I have found that even sharing native videos from other pages/people gets higher reach.

    Targeting organic posts is something I have played with a little bit and it is pretty powerful. I definitely get a greater organic reach when I tailor content to a specific segment of our audience. The “Interests” targeting for organic posts makes it really easy to get reach and engagement on posts when you have over 100k likes.

    Good write-up here Courtney.

  • Great to see you include cinemagraphs. We’ve made the process of creating and sharing cinemagraphs on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and web sites super easy. Flixel is an award-winning app and web service that lets you create stunning HD cinemagraphs quickly and easily. We’ve even written several blog posts and recorded numerous video tutorials on how to use cinemagraphs in Facebook. Our software is free to try and there are hundreds of gorgeous cinemagraphs created by our community at http://www.flixel.com

  • Love this post and the tips in the comments too. I’ve found sharing curated content from similar pages, then peppering with viral content is also upping my engagement hugely. This in turn drives traffic to my blog when I post my own features (just twice a day now, one evergreen & one new). My engagement has gone from almost non existent to over 16k (unpaid) in just one week. Hoping the upward trend continues. We’ll beat the algorithms yet!

    • CherrySue…Would love to know more about your process! 🙂 When you say “similar pages” do you mean similar to your own page, or your demographic??? Would love to try your system and see if it works for my demographic…

      Thanks!

      • Yep, pages similar to mine. I run a beauty & lifestyle blog but market it as ‘Cocktail Half Full’ so any uplifting posts are good too. Basically anything I wish I’d written, since my readers love that style. I checked my Insights and found 6 points in time that most readers were online. Post an evergreen (popular) post in the first slot, then a funny pic (or an Instagram share of mine) then at lunch I have a ‘Quick Question’ post (these are topical posts that have grabbed huge numbers for bigger pages). I’ll pop up another picture, another share of curated content and finally one of my blog posts again. I’ve been flabberghasted at the engagement. Likes are steadily rising (120 this week) but the engagement, shares, comments & click throughs are fantastic!

        • Thanks so much for sharing your process! 🙂

          I do curate content now — using Buffer, of course! 😉 — but there aren’t many (if any) pages like mine (WordPress training!)… There are some that *sound* like mine but are very shallow (everyone trying to cash in on an upward trend, I guess).

          I’m not getting much interaction or engagement…I think it’s the demographic… Someplace I recently read a great article about “the unseen SocMed audience” (I’m paraphrasing); all about the “silent majority” of people who are “lurkers”: they read & consume content, but silently!

          They don’t engage at all, and the article presented several sets of data that estimated this silent majority of content consumers is something around 80%…works out to around 4-5 times the active commenters & sharers! I mention this because it might be helpful for others who are not seeing the results they are hoping for…and just think what this means about your actual reach: it’s likely 80% higher than what you think! 🙂

          Gotta look on the bright side! 😉

        • Bomber

          Hi Cherry, really interested to read this, what is your Facebook page please?

  • It is awesome article,,

  • These tips are helpful indeed , tell me one thing . Who ever i ask in blogs they say its good not to post more than 3 posts in fb . Is it so ? Is it only applicable for large giants or startups also ?

  • RSVPalmer

    WOW, Great post! . . . Where to start first (Buffer, of course) – got a lot of catching up – 40yr. of smile & handshake/face-to-face as a Metal Sculptor, downsizing to a Digital 3-D Artist – shared your enthusiasm – coat collector of sorts.

  • Pankaj kadam

    Hi
    Very Nice article

  • Hi Courtney,
    Great Post, These Tips helps me alot, Thanks for the post keep going