We need to talk.

Alright, I've dragged my feet long enough. We need to talk.

We need to talk about the algorithm. Facebook's algorithm, that is.

Not too long ago, you may have noticed changes to Facebook's layout. Images are smaller in size and only three lines of text appear from a caption in your newsfeed now. Along with these visual and aesthetic updates, Facebook has further tweaked its algorithm—essentially its ranking system—in order to improve the user experience.

The bad news is that these algorithm tweaks also further reduce the organic reach possible for business your church's. (Organic reach is the percentage of your followers who will see your posts without paying for Facebook ads.)

Let me pause right there though. What I don't want to happen is for you to get frustrated or bored and stop reading. Why is this important?

Because 60% of people visit a business or organization's Facebook page before visiting their brick and mortar location or their website! 80% of people are inclined to then visit said location or website if they discover a credible and authentic Facebook page. And finally, 62% of people say that Facebook is the most important and useful tool when researching a small business or organization!

Your Facebook page is important.

So now back to the algorithm. What in the world is it? Well, it's how Facebook determines which of your followers see which of your posts. It first ranks a post by what it knows your followers respond to and then shows that content to a segment of your followers only. That percentage of followers who will see that post in their newsfeed can then increase if the original segment engages with (likes, comments on, shares, etc.) the post. Stay with me here.

It first ranks posts based on how long a page has been active on Facebook (older pages do better), the percentage of followers that generally engage with posts on the page, the consistency of posting on the page, and how actively the page owner engages with its followers (whether or not you respond quickly to messages and comments).

If you use Facebook as one of your church's outreach and communications tools, then understanding the algorithm and how to ensure that your posts rank as high as possible is also important.

How do you do that? Here are 5 ways:

- Create engaging posts that are inspiring, funny, emotional, personable, question-based, and/or interesting on a very regular basis. Be careful though to not use language that will indicate to Facebook's algorithm that you are asking for engagement. That language might include, "Like this post if" or "Comment below to." The algorithm is smarter than that.

- Minimize outbound links. Most church Facebook posts are an outbound link, a URL that sends the user to the church's website or stream—somewhere other than Facebook. The algorithm doesn't like that and discounts your ranking overall if you do it too often.

- Know when to post. Have you ever visited your Facebook analytics? Click on "insights" and then click on "posts." At the top of that page, you will find what days of the week and what times of day your followers are most active on Facebook. By posting at those times, you are setting yourself up for more engagement from your followers and therefore more organic reach.

- Be timely. Respond to private messages within 24 hours and never let a message go unanswered!

- Let your followers know what's going on. When a follower visits your page, they can indicate to Facebook in two-simple steps that they want to see your content as often as possible. It is 100% okay to ask your followers to do this on social media and by email!

If you do these things, you'll be well on your way to maximizing your organic reach potential. If this is all super confusing, however, and I lost you at the first mention of algorithm then send me an email and let's find some time to chat!

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