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Organic social media reach refers to the number of people who see a given piece of content organically—without paid promotion. Especially for small and medium-sized businesses that may have a limited budget, strategically working to raise the number of people your content reaches organically can help you increase your audience and make more sales.

Let’s dive into some overarching philosophy of how to view social media and some strategic tips for how to increase your organic reach. To do this, we’re splitting things up into three main sections:

The importance of a strong social media presence

The saying, “People do business with people they know, like, and trust,” is arguably truer today than ever before. Social media helps us feel like we know the people we are buying from. Use social media to help your ideal client, whether that’s by letting them know about your product that will improve their quality of life or by educating them on how to solve a problem they may be facing. As you help your ideal client, you will begin to build trust with them.

While this is admittedly easier said than done, building brand trust is not rocket science. Start by being authentic. For example, interweave a story about your brand with the product you’re selling.

screenshot from the Instagram account of Lindsay letters showing an original art piece staged in a midcentury modern room

@linsayletters.com via Instagram

Lindsay does a great job of doing this here on her art Instagram account. The way she describes the piece and talks about what inspired her to create it feels relatable and authentic.

By approaching Instagram in this way, the reader gets to know a little bit about Lindsay through this post.  It’s much more relatable and inviting than if she only included the dimensions of the piece and told people where they could purchase it.

Use your social media platforms to let people know what makes you different from other brands in your niche and the positive impact you are having on your community.

Screenshots from the Instagram page of Seek Discomfort that demonstrate their personable and inspirational approach
Screenshots from the Instagram page of Seek Discomfort that demonstrate their personable and inspirational approach

@seek.discomfort via Instagram

The brand, Seek Discomfort, does this by sharing via social media how they are stepping outside of their comfort zone and challenging themselves and their followers to grow. They’ve expanded their vision and impact beyond being an apparel company. They use their platform to build meaningful relationships with their followers and inspire people.

Social Media Q&A

If you’re getting started with a brand social media account or looking to improve your social media presence, here’s a little Q&A with info that will hopefully be helpful!

What is the difference between social media reach vs. impressions?

Reach refers to how many unique users have seen your content while impressions are how many times a piece of content was displayed. Impressions will be equal to or higher than reach due to the fact that a single piece of content may show up on someone’s feed more than once.

For example, if a follower shares your post, another follower may see it twice—once as the original post and once as the shared post. In this instance, the reach would be one as it reached only one account, but there would be two impressions as it showed up twice in their feed.

How can you improve your social media organic reach?

Organic reach is increased when your followers view and interact with your content. When this happens, the platform you are on sees that it is a high-quality piece of content and shows it to more users. Focus on creating valuable content with your followers (we’ll get more into what valuable content is in a moment).

orange crush illustration
Illustration by OrangeCrush

Have a regular posting schedule so your followers know when they can expect to see your posts pop up on their feed. It’s helpful to develop your unique brand, tone and voice so people know what they can expect from you—predictability allows people to feel like they know you.

How can you adapt to algorithm changes?

The algorithm, a set of rules and data that makes decisions about what to show users based on what it believes they will want to see, is always being updated to ensure each platform works seamlessly for the user and shows them content they’ll enjoy seeing. Focus on creating high-quality content that benefits your ideal customer. As engagement increases on your posts, the reach will naturally increase.

Notice what is trending and think of creative ways to adapt trends to your niche. Whether it’s a silly filter or a serious conversation, being present in the big topics of today can help increase your business’ visibility. We’ll take a closer look at this in a moment with platform specific examples.

Overall, increasing the interactions on your posts will be the best way to broaden your organic reach. Try different types of content and see what your audience interacts with the most.

What is a Call to Action (CTA) and how can you use them effectively?

A CTA lets your audience know how you’d like them to respond to your post. When people interact with your post, it helps the algorithm see that your content is being received positively, and it’s more likely to show it to a larger number of accounts, thereby increasing the organic reach. Make it easy for them to interact in a way that is helpful to you. Here are some examples of good CTAs:

Canva post
@Canva via Instagram
Walgreen tweet
@Walgreens from Twitter

Help your audience understand how they’re helping you when they like, comment, share, and save your content. Not everyone is familiar with how these platforms work, but once they realize how it helps, likely more people will interact with your posts.

Consider doing a giveaway every now and then. This is a great way to naturally include a CTA that will benefit your follower. Let them know that in order to be entered in the giveaway, they need to be following you, like, comment, and share the post.

Who is your ideal client?

Before you jump into creating a social media brand strategy, it is helpful to know who your ideal client is. This will help you decide what type of content to focus on and what platforms to prioritize.

Your ideal client is who your product is primarily intended for. When you create content with your ideal client in mind, they will be much more likely to interact with it—further increasing your organic reach.

For example, if you create original oil paintings, your ideal client may be a 30yr old woman who just purchased a new house. This doesn’t mean that you aren’t open to the possibility of anyone else enjoying your work, but you know that your target demographic is established in their career, enjoys making their home feel bright, and is looking for investment art pieces they can enjoy for a long time.

Deciding on an ideal client can also be referred to as “finding your niche.” However, many people find it easier to envision having a conversation with an individual instead of a vague concept related to your field. Since social media is intended to be a social platform, it is helpful to figure out who your ideal client is so you can better know how to reach them.

How do you figure out who your ideal client is and how does that impact other decisions related to your business?

Start by creating a “brand voice” document. In this document answer the following questions:

  • Who is your ideal client? Give your ideal client a name, describe what they do for work, what their home-life looks like, and whether or not they have a pet fish. You want to feel like you know your ideal client. You may choose to model your ideal client after a friend or even a younger version of yourself. Add enough detail to where you feel like you really know this person and understand their unique needs. As you build a client profile, narrow down the social media platforms they will be most likely to hang out on. This allows you to create a more in-depth social media strategy on a handful of platforms that will be more strategic to your brand.
  • What does your brand look like? You want there to be consistency across platforms. Deciding on brand colors, fonts, and other design elements will save time in the future and create consistency across platforms. If the design aspect of branding feels overwhelming, we have a team of amazing designers that would love to help you out!
  • How do you sound? For example, are you your ideal client’s “big sister,” providing personable, friendly advice, or are you an advisor speaking to them with more of a factual, to-the-point approach. There are endless options for your brand’s tone and voice, and none of them are better than the other. But you want to avoid switching between them as that makes it hard for your ideal client to feel like they know you.

What are common misconceptions of social media marketing?

There are two main social media misconceptions. First, the misconception that building an audience is quick and easy. Second, a bigger following is better. In reality, it takes a lot of time, consistency, creativity and hard work to build a social media following. Also, having a small but highly engaged audience composed of your ideal clients is more valuable than a huge following that doesn’t know who you are.

Build a platform-specific social media marketing strategy

Not each platform will be right for each business. Especially for smaller businesses, start by focusing on one or two platforms rather than overwhelming yourself with trying to do everything at once.

Think about your “ideal client” and then think about where they’re hanging out to help you decide which platform to focus on. Pew Research Center offers a breakdown by platform with user information detailing everything from age and gender to education level—take a look at this and see what platform you want to focus on.

Also consider the type of content you enjoy creating—for example, if you enjoy creating video content, start by focusing on TikTok and Instagram reels. Conversely, if you want to write longer copy, start with a Facebook and Instagram focus.

Organic social media growth doesn’t happen overnight. Below you’ll find tips for how to approach running a brand account on Instagram, TikTok, Twitter, and Facebook. Use the following tips and post with consistency and patience and your ideal clients will find you.

Instagram

As of the end of 2021, Instagram reportedly had close to 2 billion active users, making it one of the most used social media platforms. It features both photo and video content options, which make it a great option for businesses.

Graph showing the growth of Instagram users from 2013-2021
Graph via Statista

Recently, the platform has been focusing on becoming an ecommerce site alongside the already existing social aspect of the platform. They are doing this through the introduction of Instagram Shop where businesses can integrate their product catalog directly on the app. You can also tag shop items in the images you post similarly to how you would tag a friend in a social post.

Oftentimes when platforms introduce a new feature, they will promote posts that take advantage of this feature to help people incorporate it into their ongoing strategy for the platform. While there is no concrete statement from Instagram that supports this hypothesis, one brand, Natori, saw 1,416% increase on Instagram traffic in the first 6 months of integrating the shop feature. For brand accounts, it’s definitely worth trying out. When you tag a shop item, it makes it easier for people to purchase your amazing products. Any of your posts featuring tagged shop items may experience increased reach.

Screenshot from Bunky Boutique Instagram account showing how it looks when a brand tags items from their shop
@bunkyboutique via Instagram

Here’s what the post looks like when items are linked via the shop. When users click on the “View shop” option at the bottom of the image, they see these featured products with the option to “Buy now” as well as the option to look at other items from the same store.

Unfortunately, this feature is not yet available in every country—here is a list of countries that allow users to integrate their account with Instagram Shop.

In order to maximize the possibility of organic reach for your posts, focus on creating high-quality content that your followers interact with. For instance, liking, commenting, sharing, saving, and watching entire videos. Although the Instagram algorithm is constantly changing, the goal of new updates is to help users find content that they will enjoy interacting with. This is why it is important to create content that is helpful to your ideal customer. Give them valuable advice and share what makes you unique.

By using hashtags, you’ll help the algorithm understand what type of content you are posting. Try using a combination of popular, branded, and post-specific hashtags. Instagram allows users to use up to 30 hashtags per post and 10 hashtags per story.

Some Instagram users follow specific hashtags and are shown a handful of the top posts using that hashtag every day. If your post gets high interaction, these users may be shown your content on their home feed despite the fact that they don’t (yet) follow you.

The other way using hashtags can broaden your reach is through the “discover” tab on Instagram. For example, if you run a cute bed and breakfast in Quebec and tag #Quebec #traveldestinations #bedandbreakfast #takeabreak, the algorithm will be more likely to show your post to people who regularly interact with travel content than if you don’t include any hashtags at all.

Instagram Stories (IGS) are a great way to interact with your followers in a less curated and more transparent way. Try incorporating various interactive post options such as Q&As, polls, and quizzes to build a relationship with your followers. Check out the luggage brand, @away, to be inspired by how you can use IGS to boost your follower interactions and build relationships with your customers.

an example of the luggage brand, Away, using their IGS to build customer interactions
@away via Instagram stories

If you haven’t already, experiment with Instagram Reels, the primary form of video content on Instagram. They’re a great way to show before/after progress, share vision, and let people get to know you better.

Growing your organic reach on Instagram will not be instantaneous. Prioritize making high-quality content that your followers interact with. Don’t expect to see change overnight. Even as your interactions increase, it may take several weeks for the algorithm to start sharing your content with a larger number of people. It may be slow and steady, but with time, you will increase your following.

Tip for an Instagram growth spurt:

If you want to increase exposure and interaction, try doing a giveaway! In order for people to enter the giveaway, ask them to follow your account, tag someone in the comments, and share it to their story. This will boost your post interactions and increase the number of people seeing your content.

For example, if you are a skincare company, you could create a bundle with several of your favorite products. Or a nutritionist might offer to have a 1-on-1 consultation with the lucky winner.

An example of an instagram giveaway by account @kiwiboutique
@kiwiboutique via Instagram

TikTok

TikTok is a video-based platform that is more casual than other forms of social media. People often post videos with themselves wearing “around the house” clothes and will film entire videos using silly angles that people may consider “unflattering.” It is a great place to showcase your personality and be a little more lighthearted than other social media platforms.

A great example of a small business account on TikTok is Kōv Essentials. They are a hair clip company that focuses on creating durable and cute products. In the video below, you’ll see a lady responding to a comment asking her to step on the clip. She does this and shows how, even while standing on one foot on top of the clip, it doesn’t break.

@kovessentials Reply to @user54846754004 ♬ original sound – Kōv Essentials

While creating videos on TikTok, have fun and don’t take yourself too seriously. People love to see bloopers and mishaps that make you feel more relatable. Videos that showcase change also tend to perform quite well—a Christmas decorating video currently holds the spot of second highest viewed TikTok.

@jamescharles Welcome to the Sisters Christmas Party! 🎅🏻❤️ #fyp #christmas #HolidayBeat ♬ Tactical Christmas – Chivi 😘

For example, if you have a cake decorating business, you could upload a video that shows the process from beginning to end on the cake you’re working on as one form of progress video. You could also share a photo of the first cake you sold 3 years ago and the cake you decorated yesterday to showcase your growth as a baker. It’s authentic and shows your viewers that you didn’t start out where you are today—it took a lot of hard work and effort to get where you are now.

As you can see in the hairclip video above, TikTok allows users to create video responses to people’s comments. This is a great way to have inspiration for more content and engage with your audience in a meaningful way.

TikTok can help you build brand recognition, but it doesn’t have the best options for linking business websites from the platform. As a business account, you can add a link to your bio, but the captions of the videos themselves cannot contain links.

Tip for a TikTok growth spurt:

Hop on trends, and find ways to adapt them to your niche. Duolingo is a great example of a brand that does this well. They find ways to make their trademark mascot—the big, green owl—the main feature of each video.

@duolingo When @peterspasta comes to the office, Celine Duon comes out to play. #comedy #trend #Duolingo #itsallcomingbacktomenow #40yearsofcelinedion #DuaLipa ♬ original sound – Morgane Watkins

Twitter

Twitter is considered a “microblogging” platform. With a maximum of 280 characters per tweet, users are challenged to get straight to the point. In addition to text, throw in a gif from time to time—Twitter’s research shows that tweets with a gif had 55% more engagement than those without.

Not only should you be tweeting your own thoughts through Twitter, this platform also brings a real focus to interaction with other users—as a smb looking to expand your reach, make the most of this!

Focus on interacting with your followers—especially when they tag you in a post or retweet your post. Sometimes this will be coming from supportive and satisfied customers, while others may be publicly tweeting their dissatisfaction. Do your best to respond to both as quickly as possible.

The Aldi account on Twitter serves as a great example of how brands can use the platform to respond to customers to create fun interactions.

screenshot of Aldi responding to a customer who painted on their grocery shopping bag
@AldiUK via Twitter

Interact with other thought leaders in your industry! Follow influencers and brands in your niche, retweet their content, and like and comment on their posts. This might not have an immediate increase on your stats, but building meaningful relationships with others in your industry and being supportive of the work they are doing will increase the likelihood of them retweeting your content as well.

Twitter shared their research showing that posts that include hashtags increased engagement by 50%. Hashtags allow the algorithm to group your tweets with similar content. Aim to use between one and three relevant hashtags with each tweet.

Increase your engagement on Twitter by creating polls or other types of interactive content. If you have a blog, promote new pieces via Twitter by sharing a meaningful quote from the piece and then linking the article in the tweet.

Prioritize posting when your audience is most likely to be active on the platform. It may take a little while to figure this out for your specific audience, but typically meals and evenings are “high traffic” times of the day.

Tip for a Twitter growth spurt:

If you’re not sure how to word your tweet, try running it through this free tweet analyzer created by chenhaot. It allows you to compare two tweets and lets you know which version is likely to perform the best.

Alternatively, you could try this more advanced product offered by Tweetbinder. They offer several different packages with the “Starter” starting at $74.99/month. It helps users track and analyze specific hashtags on Twitter.

Facebook

Despite there being many newer social media platforms, Facebook is still the largest one boasting 2.9 billion users at the end of 2021. In the US, 73% of people between ages 50-64 have a Facebook account compared to only 14% of that same age group who are on TikTok. This makes some members of Gen-Z feel like the platform is no longer “relevant,” but it really just depends on who you are trying to reach with your content.

In recent years, the platform has made it more beneficial for brands to pay for advertising in order to increase reach. When setting up an ad, the platform allows you to target a very specific audience which makes it a powerful tool. However, small and medium sized businesses that don’t have the budget for a paid campaign can opt for prioritizing organic reach within the platform.

When followers share your content, the reach of your post will increase significantly as their followers will be shown the post they’ve shared. Create shareable content by sharing relatable stories, funny memes, or inspirational statistics.

If your business has a blog, use Facebook to promote it to your followers. Introduce your article with an interesting hook that will entice people to read it, and then include a CTA that encourages them to read the rest of the article.

Think of a hook as the “trailer” for your article. Why would someone want to read your article? Give them a sense of what you’ll be talking about while only hinting at the juiciest details.

clockwise
Notice here how Clockwise, in three sentences, let’s readers know what the blog will be about and how it will benefit the reader

Tips for a Facebook growth spurt:

Do your best to respond to every comment you get on a post! This will boost your engagement and help build a relationship with your followers.

For example, if someone comments, “This t-shirt design is so cute!” you could respond by saying, “So glad you like it! We love this shirt too. Did you know it comes in three other colors?”

Tips for how to multi-purpose content

Now, as a small or medium sized business, creating consistent, original content for each of your social media platforms may sound overwhelming. While each platform does have unique types of content, think through ways you can multi-purpose your content so that you don’t have to create everything from scratch.

Here are some ideas of different ways you can use the awesome graphics, videos or written copy across multiple platforms.

  • Post the same content to Facebook that you post on Instagram with just one click. You can integrate your Facebook and Instagram business accounts. Then, when you’re posting on Instagram, just select the option that makes it post straight to Facebook as well. When doing this, check the post on both platforms to make sure it looks alright on each. You may need to tweak a few details such as adding more hashtags to your Instagram post than you have on Facebook (as you can see from the examples above, Facebook posts typically don’t include hashtags and if they do, not as many as Instagram). If a large portion of your followers are on both Facebook and Instagram, you may want to create some content that is unique to each, but your favorite content can definitely be shared to both platforms!
  • Use the most impactful sentence from your Instagram caption as a tweet. When you’re writing an Instagram caption, think about what the core “nugget” is of what you’re writing. Tweet this sentence via Twitter.
  • Use the same clips you used for your TikTok to create an Instagram reel. The one thing to avoid here is uploading video clips that have a TikTok watermark to Instagram. However, if you shoot videos on your phone that you then upload to the TikTok app, you can use the same clips to create an Instagram reel.

Final thoughts

Remember that while it’s exciting and encouraging to see your following grow, a bigger following isn’t always better. Also, growing your following organically will take time, consistency, creativity and a lot of hard work!

Don’t be worried if you don’t go viral immediately. Rather, use these tips to build a community that knows you, trusts you and wants to see you succeed.

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