Why EdgeRank Can’t Edge Out Organic Reach

December has been abuzz with news surrounding changes to Facebook’s EdgeRank algorithm that are intended to surface more relevant, quality media/publisher content in users’ timelines. However, AdAge recently reported that this and other algorithm tweaks geared toward creating a more tailored user experience have effectively stunted the organic reach of brands’ posts, forcing them to rely on paid advertising to secure Fans’ eyeballs.

But before businesses start shelling out ad dollars or regressing to counting Likes in an effort to spawn more cost-effective Sponsored Stories, brands need to take a step back and re-evaluate their on-site user experiences. Marketers must optimize their web properties for organic social traffic and syndication, and, as AdAge puts it, “up their content creation game in order to emerge organically from the morass of stories eligible to enter users’ news feeds.”

Here are four ways that brands can foster organic referral traffic, engagement and conversions via Facebook using on-site social strategies.

Create interactive, sharable customer experiences.

Offer users more engaging on-site experiences by implementing features like ratings and reviews, gamification and activity feeds, and give them the option to share these experiences directly with their Facebook networks with the click of a button. In light of Facebook’s recent emphasis on user comments to help determine content relevance and news feed placement, giving users the ability to write and share comments will become key in increasing organic feed distribution and subsequent referral traffic. In fact, 33% of all shared comments are shared to Facebook!

Be mobile-friendly.

Facebook boasts over 250 million mobile only monthly active users (TechCrunch). To stay relevant, marketers must have a mobile strategy in place, and make sure their sites offer users the same sharing functionality via smartphones and tablets as they do on desktop. Leverage responsive design to improve your user experience and encourage social sharing on the go.

Leverage event-based sharing.

In addition to making share buttons prominent across your website or mobile app, prompt users to share meaningful actions, such as making a purchase, redeeming a coupon or writing a review, across Facebook. This type of event-based sharing is proven to increase shares by up to 400%! You can also implement Facebook Open Graph sharing, wherein users agree to let you automatically post to Facebook on their behalf for both built-in (Read, Listen, Watch) and custom (Baked, Ran, Redeemed, etc.) Facebook actions.

Personalize featured content and products.

Allowing users to login to your site or app using their existing social media accounts gives you rich, permission-based access to their social profiles, including their favorite athletes, top TV shows, hobbies, relationships and more. It also allows you to tie cross-channel, on-site actions to a single social identity to create a more relevant and timely user experience. Users are much more likely to share personalized content and product recommendations with their social connections, which often exhibit like interests and provide further syndication. In addition, gaining a deeper understanding of your collective user base enables you to post more relevant content via Facebook, landing more organic posts on your customers’ timelines.

Facebook may be tightening its algorithm, but by making your site or app inherently social and connecting closer with consumers, you can still reach the right users, with the right messages, at the right times – organically.

By Tobias Meyer-Grunow