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Facebook rules the web — right alongside Google and Twitter. The social network, born in a Harvard dorm room and now a global presence, has become as essential to a business as a competent accountant. But you’ve probably noticed some quirks with your business page. You may have noticed some “exposure inconsistencies” whenever you post something from your photography business page.

Surely you’ve seen these little bits of taunting data underneath your Facebook business page posts. This is all real data from a Facebook page I run.

Fluctuating post viewership

So what gives? Why the drastic fluctuation in viewers? Well, the answer to those questions lies in Facebook’s nerdy algorithm. Luckily, with a little experimentation and basic knowledge of your fellow humans’ behavior, you can do a few things to cater to that algorithm, better serve your fans, and increase your visibility!

Create Quality FIRST

Let’s get something out of the way before getting into all the data and tactics. No amount of craftiness or “algorithm worship” is a substitute for good quality content. So the first thing you’ve got to keep in mind is this: only post when you’ve got something meaningful, useful, collaborative, or valuable to say. Don’t feel like you have to post something just because. None of your fans are sitting around thinking, “Hmm…I haven’t ‘Joe Cool Photography’ post anything today. They must not be a serious business *goes to unlike your page*.” It just doesn’t happen.

This tip alone will increase the fan engagement on your Facebook posts.

The Almighty Algorithm

Facebook’s algorithm, formerly known as “Edgerank”, decides what items will show up on a user’s news feed. The algorithm takes many factors into account but it primarily decides what shows up on users’ feeds based on 3 things:

Facebook’s EdgeRank = Affinity x Weight x Time Decay

Affinity is the relationship strength between the posting page (or person) and the receiving user. For example, if you engage with your wife’s posts more than the posts from an old high school acquaintance, your wife’s posts will take precedence over the acquaintance’s. Eventually, that acquaintance’s posts will disappear from your feed completely if you never engage with them. This is why it’s so important to post things that people feel compelled to engage with. You don’t want to disappear from more people’s feeds just because your posting non-compelling things!

Weight refers to a few different things regarding post type and engagement. First, different post types have a different “weight” assigned to them. More weight = more visibility. Currently the hierarchy is this:

  1. Photos and videos get the most weight.
  2. Links get the second most weight.
  3. Text-only gets the least amount of weight.

Keep in mind that as a post accumulates “likes” and comments, it also accumulates weight. So in theory, a plain text post could get more views than a photo because of likes! Also remember that the hierarchy will most likely change as user behavior changes. Facebook will then change up the algorithm to suit user behavior.

Time Decay is fairly self explanatory. As time goes by, a post will lose value in a News Feed.

Increase Your Posts’ Visibility

Now that you know what Facebook considers “important” when deciding how many people will see your latest post, you can make better decisions about what to post and when to post! Here is a list of tips and insights that will help your craft more engaging Facebook posts:

  • Post images more often than any other post type (photos get 39% more interaction).
  • When you post text, keep it under 300 characters (short text posts get 23% more interaction).
  • Use emoticons (when emoticons are present, a post can see a 33% increase in comments).
  • People tend to engage with Facebook posts more around the end of the week (Thursday – Sunday). Also, early afternoon is typically the best time to post something. Thursdays and Fridays are the days of highest engagement, Sunday sits right in the middle, and Saturday has the least engagement rates.
  • Try to post simple questions fairly often (questions get 100% more comments).
  • Respond quickly (ideally same day) to any comments on your posts.
  • Hold contests and offer discounts as incentives for engagement (35% of fans like a page so they can enter contests and 42% like pages for coupons and discounts).

It’s worth noting that your posts will be seen by 16% of your fans on average. That figure comes directly from Facebook. So even if you execute every tactic perfectly, you will not be seen by a large majority of your fans. That’s why Facebook offers a little boost to your posts for a small fee. There’s plenty of strife between users and Facebook over this. But at the end of the day, Facebook is a global business and they have to make little money off of their service. So if you want to reach more people, you’ll have to pay.

Be There

As an indie photographer, you probably understand the importance of building your tribe on Facebook. Use the insights and strategies in this post to create compelling Facebook posts and get in front of more eyeballs. Encourage your friends and family to share your page and posts with anyone they know who needs a photographer. Take it a step further and TEACH them how to share your page on Facebook. Some might not know how! Ask past clients to share testimonials about you and to tag you in a post. You’re a creative photographer! Use a little of that creativity to build your Facebook tribe!

The awesome thing about the photography business is that it’s built around people and their life events — there’s no shortage of life events is there? All you have to do is be around whenever a fellow human gets engaged, has a baby, graduates high school, gets married, buys a home, takes a leap of faith and starts their own business, or just likes having pictures taken with their family. You can get in front of these people online. You can connect with them and make them feel welcome. You don’t have to be a slick-haired salesman. Just be there.

Sources for data and algorithm breakdown: