The Ultimate Guide to Social Media Best Practices: Facebook

Master Facebook, One of Social Media’s Most Popular Channels, with These Tips

In the first blog of our “Ultimate Guide to Social Media Best Practices” series, we reviewed social media basics that can apply to all channels. We covered topics like having a channel purpose, speaking in your brand voice, understanding your audience, and much more. This month, we begin our focus on channel-specific best practices to help make sure you are achieving your brand's full potential—starting with Facebook.

Facebook 101

Since its launch in 2004, Facebook has achieved growth no other social network has surpassed. It has also become one of the biggest and most effective tools in the marketing arsenal. With more than 2 billion users, it’s hard to argue against your brand having a presence on Facebook. Yes, depending on your target audience, it may not be the number one place you spend most of your marketing efforts; however, the case for being there still remains quite strong.

Organic Versus Paid

While Facebook is one platform, there are two very different ways of reaching its users: organic and paid. Organic Facebook refers to how many people you can reach for free on Facebook by posting to your brand’s page. Paid Facebook, as you can probably guess, refers to how many people you can reach with paid advertising through your brand’s page.

With more than 2 billion users, it’s hard to argue against your brand having a presence on Facebook.

Back when business pages were first introduced, brands could publish content, and it would be shown to every single follower. As Facebook grew, users began to follow content from more and more friends and brands. As a result, Facebook implemented an algorithm to only show content that it believed was most relevant to you. (The idea behind this is the more relevant the content, the more time you’ll spend on site.) This reduced brands’ organic reach dramatically. This also became a way for Facebook to push brands to use the paid method, generating revenue for the social media company. Facebook has continued to reduce brand organic reach slowly over time, with no signs of changing that any time soon.

Recent Facebook Changes

When Facebook announced more recent algorithm changes in January 2018, the marketing world freaked out. Facebook said it would promote content from friends over content from brands, leading many marketers to proclaim: “Organic reach is over!” However, that simply isn’t the case. True, organic reach has been reduced to a sliver of what it was even just last year; however, it is important to remember that organic Facebook posts serve multiple purposes.

First, there will still be a few users who engage often with your brand, and they will still see your published posts in the news feed. Most others will either see them as a result of that engagement (see a user’s activity post, like a comment or like story) or see them as a result of a paid media campaign. So if only a few see them organically (for free), is organic still important?

Organic reach has been reduced to a sliver of what it was even just last year; however, it is important to remember that organic Facebook posts serve multiple purposes.

That answer is yes! If your content is engaging and drives conversation between users and amplification (shares), it can receive extra organic reach. Also, when you complement your organic efforts by executing a paid media campaign, a user may click on your brand page to determine if they can trust the brand, find out more information, and even consume additional content. Example: Brand A publishes relevant content daily, and Brand B last published a post 5 months ago. Which brand would you trust more? Obviously, the brand that is active and posting content recently. Organic content can still build credibility and prove very valuable, even when fewer people are seeing it.


Making sure your content leads to engagement is one of the biggest keys to organic content success on Facebook. Why? Remember Facebook’s goals: 1) To have you spend more time on Facebook, so you don’t leave their site (because you can’t see ads if you aren’t there), and 2) It’s social media. Facebook wants you to engage (like, comment, and share) with other people. Content that supports these two goals will see more organic success every time. Also remember, engagement should be a conversation. If your followers are engaging with you, be sure to respond. Make sure they know you are listening and value the time they took not only to follow your brand but to interact with it. This is even more important with recent Facebook announcements. One of the items specifically called out was to create conversations among followers. Make responding a priority in your social media plan.

Stop the Scroll

The next key to keep top of mind for organic content success on Facebook is to “stop the scroll.” This involves grabbing the attention of your followers so they pause to consume your content. How do you accomplish this? First, use compelling images. Be sure to include images that are relevant, unique, and vibrant. Please note that Facebook isn’t a place for automatically cross-sharing content that resides elsewhere, as this kind of content generally sees less engagement. Facebook encourages original content. Whenever possible, upload directly to Facebook instead of linking somewhere else, like Twitter. However, there are exceptions. Facebook owns Instagram and doesn’t seem to penalize automated sharing from that social media network in the same way. A recent study by Buzzsumo showed that images posted to Facebook via Instagram actually receive 23 percent more engagement than images published natively on Facebook.

Video, Video, Video

Another key to organic Facebook success is to use video, video, and more video. In 2015, people watched 100-plus million hours of video on Facebook. Imagine how much it has grown since then. Video is a huge priority for Facebook. When something is a priority, Facebook surfaces these posts first, meaning your video content has a better chance of being seen over non-video content. 

Video is a huge priority for Facebook. It surfaces these posts first, meaning your video content has a better chance of being seen over non-video content.

Further, users can’t discover video content unless you are posting it. Whenever possible, upload video directly to Facebook. Because Facebook does not want you to leave its site or app and go to a competitor (like YouTube), it gives preference to native video. Additionally, native video will autoplay, leading to significantly increased engagement.

Other best practices to keep in mind when it comes to Facebook video include:

  • Be sure your videos can be viewed without sound. According to Digiday, 85 percent of videos on Facebook are viewed without sound. This is why it’s a good idea to add captions to your videos. Facebook says, “captioned video ads increase video view time by an average of 12 percent.
  • Animated GIFs are also a supported format for Facebook content. Make sure the GIF is relevant to the mood or topic of your content, along with aligning with your brand.
  • Facebook Live video is another priority for Facebook. Your followers may even get a notification when you start a live stream. With all the competition for attention on Facebook, breaking through the clutter to stop the scroll with great content can be quite rewarding. In the coming months, we will devote an entire best practices blog to Facebook Live, so stay tuned.

Targeting Posts

Did you know that you can target your Facebook posts? This feature has been around for a while, but it is seldom used. Depending on what your content is, you may want to target specific posts to different audiences. We’ve seen this used to market region-specific promos, content with age requirements, and interest-based filtering.

Targeting is very easy to use. At the top of your brand page, click Settings, then click Post Targeting and Privacy. Then, check the box. Now, when you create a post, you can add targeting to each post, including age, gender, location, relationship status, interests, and more. Doing this can help you make your content more relevant to your audience segments. When content is relevant, more followers engage with it. When content sees engagement, Facebook surfaces this content more frequently, leading to—you guessed it—more engagement.

Tips, Tricks, and More

Here are more helpful tips to note when it comes to organic content success on Facebook.

  • Don’t get too wordy. “Posts with 40 characters or less received 86 percent higher engagements than longer posts,” according to a recent study.
  • Drop the hashtags. Buzzsumo released a study showing that posts with hashtags actually receive less engagement than posts without hashtags. While hashtags are great on Twitter and Instagram, Facebook is a different story.
  • Facebook contests can be a great way to increase awareness of and engagement with your page. According to WishPond, 34 percent of people will like a Facebook page to participate in a promotion or receive a discount. Twenty-one percent of people are willing to like a page for a free giveaway. Keep in mind that these posts may need to be boosted, as Facebook tends to see these posts more like an advertisement.
  • Avoid phrases such as “buy now” and “shop now” in your post copy. Facebook considers this promotional language, which could hinder organic reach.
  • Use a call-to-action button to encourage action. Facebook allows brands to have buttons, such as “Book Now,” “Use App,” or “Contact Us.” Use these buttons to create another touch point for your followers or to have them sign up for additional content.

Up Next

Organic reach has significantly decreased on Facebook, but paid ads and boosted posts are an effective and inexpensive way to expand the reach of your brand. In our next blog in this series, we’ll take a deep dive into paid Facebook ad campaigns. We’ll look at different ad types, targeting options, and the best practices associated with them.

Photos/Graphics: BMDG and Shutterstock

Dave Goode

Dave Goode

My name is Dave B. Goode (yes, it is my real name). If it sounds like a radio name, it is—well, it was. I had a 22-year radio-broadcasting career as a brand manager and morning-show host. I’m an amateur photographer. I love to cook. I am obsessed with social media. I have come to the realization that Chia Pet seeds do not work on a human head and that it is OK to be bald.

Meet Dave Goode