Important days deserve special attention and extra coverage, especially from the Public Affairs perspective. The U.S. Military Academy at West Point took this to heart for their 2019 graduation and did their best to showcase all aspects of the day on social media. The prominence of the day meant a significant increase in reach with over 300,000 people seeing a post from the page at least once.
The USMA published eleven posts on Facebook that day, showing followers everything from the graduates eating breakfast at 6:52 AM to "the goat," the USMA tradition of honoring the lowest ranking class member, to the commissioning of Second Lieutenant Mary Pollin by her grandfather, Jack Pollin, United States Military Academy, Class of 1944. While each was deserving of attention, individual posts likely didn't reach their full potential because of the large number published in the same day. As seen by West Point - The U.S. Military Academy Facebook analytics surrounding graduation, posting more isn't always better.
Out of the eleven posts, only two had the reach that one would expect. Their third post of the day, published at 8:00 AM, reached 143.4K people, and their tenth post of the day, published at 12:27 PM, reached 226.9K people. This post was a positive summary of the occasion. The empowering message, combined with emotive photographs of happy graduates, was relevant to the entire class and members of their family. In between, reach dropped to as low as 20.9K people. As the reach declined, the number of people hiding posts skyrocketed from just under 200 people the day before graduation to over 400 people on the day of graduation.
Learning from their uplifting, far-reaching post, three days later the USMA account surpassed their previous performance and reached 1.6 million people by sharing a video that summed up graduation. They reconnected with their audience and the algorithm by limiting posts to two that day.
Reach is dictated by the Facebook algorithm and post shares. The algorithm works to understand the audience, predict what they want to see and prioritize when they want to see it. For most audiences on Facebook, there is a sweet spot for post frequency. Posting too often can lead to users "unliking" your page or hiding your posts. It is critical that you study the analytics page and monitor each post for quality of engagement.
In 2020, Facebook slightly adjusted their algorithm to lean heavily on ranking signals each post generates. Think of those signals like the ripples a stone makes when tossed in the water. A post that aligns more with what Facebook identifies as signals creates a larger ripple. The signals are:
- Who a user typically interacts with
- The type of media in the post (i.e. video, link, photo, etc.)
- The popularity of the post (engagement)
The bottom line is comments are being ranked very highly against the algorithm. Facebook wants to keep users on the platform for long periods of time. They will also reward people for posting when their audience is online, so check those metrics. Leverage this information to ensure you're getting the most reach out of each post. In the case of an important day, spread posts out over several days to follow up on the event and use non-essential posts as evergreen content throughout the next several months.
Knowing when and how much to post is critical for any social media communicator. Knowing your audience is integral to your specific social media strategy. Not knowing your audience and posting too much will result in losing followers and falling further down the algorithm.