Wondering how to achieve greater reach on Facebook? 
Look no further than the Melbourne Marathon. 
On Sunday more than 30,000 people threw on their racing shoes to participate in either then marathon, half-marathon, 10km or 5km run as part of the Melbourne Marathon Festival.
I live in Melbourne and I went shopping with my family in the city on Sunday afternoon and as well as seeing a load of people walking around town with their medals around their necks, looking way too mobile for having just completed the distance, I also noticed that they were all on Facebook.

Facebook Was Overrun By The Melbourne Marathon

The night before the event and for a couple of days after the event I didn’t have to flick too far through my Facebook newsfeed before I came across a story (or several) of Melbourne Marathon pre-race preparations, Melbourne Marathon action shot, Melbourne Marathon medals or Melbourne Marathon after-race feasts (and blisters – unfortunately that image can’t be unseen).
[Tweet “How Facebook was overrun by the #MelbourneMarathon”]
Loren Bartley - Melbourne MarathonNow, don’t get me wrong. I was loving it! I completed the half-marathon as part of the Melbourne Marathon Festival back in 2010 (and haven’t been back since – the scars are still too fresh), so I have a great appreciation for anyone that even makes it to the starting line. In fact, I was loving it so much with all my Likes and congratulatory Comments that Facebook kept serving me up more, and more and more of the stuff.
That’s my point!
As a Facebook user, through my activity, I was inadvertently telling Facebook to show me more Melbourne Marathon stuff. As a result I was seeing related stores from Facebook Friends that I wasn’t even sure were still alive (due to Facebook NEVER showing me their posts anymore) and businesses that I can’t even remember ever Liking their Page (I checked, I had).
That got me thinking…
What was it about the Melbourne Marathon that meant that any stories about it got a gold pass entry into my newsfeed and how can businesses use those factors to their advantage to achieve a greater reach into the newsfeed of their Facebook fans?
Let me break it down for you…

Do Something Awesome

People participating in the Melbourne Marathon are doing something awesome that is worthy recognition.
It’s the kind of activity that a Like doesn’t do justice to. It’s definite Comment material!
A Comment sends a stronger signal to Facebook (than a Like does) that the content is relevant and valuable – Facebook takes note of that and uses that information to determine what else it should serve up for you.

Tell People About Your Awesomeness

If you run the Melbourne Marathon and you don’t post about it on Facebook, then you may as well not have run.

It’s like the question “If a tree falls in the woods and no one is around to hear it, does it still make a sound?”
Firstly, businesses will get in the Facebook newsfeed more regularly if they are awesome. My number one tip to succeed on social media is to be awesome in everything you do in your business. This is important as it allows you to tap into the true power of social media by developing advocates for your business that rave about you on social media, making social media work to your advantage, rather letting it assist in your demise because you are crap!
But it’s not enough just to be awesome. Businesses need to make mention of it when they do something awesome. I see way too many businesses that win awards and they might tell their friends about it privately on their Facebook Profile, but they never mention it on their Facebook Page.
Hello… Missed opportunity. You are being awesome. People engage with awesomeness (see above). When you are achieving Comment territory kind of awesomeness YOU NEED TO SHOUT ABOUT IT! (Perhaps without the caps lock though).

Get Personal

All of the posts I saw about the Melbourne Marathon were about people, including those from business Pages. Importantly, they weren’t about products or services, even though they may have been worn in the image, inferred through the copy or brought to the front of my mind just because seeing one particular business in my newsfeed reminded me of the great smoothies they make.

The posts were about personal challenges, overcoming adversity and achieving success. People resonate with people and like to hear your stories and share in your adventures, even if they are connected to you through your business.

Are you drawing back the curtain enough and letting people peak in behind the scenes of your business. People want to get to know the people behind your business?
If you are not doing this, start now.

Repeat Stories = Repeat Engagement

I engaged in the lead up. I engaged during the event. I engaged after the event.

I was taken on a journey through the stories that were being shared around this event.
Facebook’s “Recent Actor” signal in their newsfeed algorithm (last 50 actions) meant that I was getting served up the next instalment of their racing adventure as a priority. The “Story Bump” signal of the algorithm also meant that I was seeing some of the stories re-appear multiple times after other people had engaged in the post, as Facebook thought that I would have a genuine interest in how the conversation around several of the stories had progressed, particularly after the runner had re-engaged with their original post.
The Recent Actor and Story Bump signals can increase your reach considerably. Take your fans on an engaging journey through the stories you share on Facebook to ensure you are using these signals to your advantage.
Also make sure that you keep the conversation going. Despite low reach across the board, a highly engaged post can live on for days with those people that are actively participating in the conversation and receiving notifications of the ongoing activity of that post. It may not be a massive reach by that time, but it is reaching your most highly engaged fans and that’s a good thing.

Trending Topics

Due to the sheer number of people that were sharing stories and engaging in dialogue about the Melbourne Marathon, Facebook could see that it was a hot topic and worthy of greater exposure in their most sought after real estate – the newsfeed!
This provided an opportunity for greater reach for those people posting about the event.
I saw many businesses sharing pictures of their staff, clients or supporters participating in the event, giving them greater exposure and subsequently more engagement than their usual posts or than what they would have achieved that same day had they have posted about something that didn’t have such mass appeal on that particular day.

Related Content

I clicked on a story about the Melbourne Marathon and then after reading the article and returning to Facebook, Facebook showed me a whole host of other related content, with links to other articles about the event.
You can use trending topics and related content signals to your advantage by keeping an eye on relevant trending topics and content that is generating a lot of interest. You can then create or share related content on that topic area. However, I will repeat again – just make sure it is relevant!


Although still relatively unknown and significantly under-utilised, Hashtags can be used to group conversations on Facebook. They are searchable and the stories posted publicly using them have the potential to appear the individual newsfeed for that particular Hashtag. The great thing about the Hashtag newsfeed is that you don’t even have to use the Hashtag to appear in it. Facebook is smart enough to see that you have included the full word that the Hashtag represents and deliver up those stories as well.
However, using the Hashtag does have some distinct advantages as Hashtags are clickable from within posts, taking the user to the newsfeed for that Hashtag. When people click on links in your posts, that is another signal to Facebook that they are engaged with your content.
Now I don’t have any stats to support this statement, but I believe that the #MelbourneMarathon newsfeed would’ve seen quite a bit of traffic in the lead up, during and after the event.
This is an opportunity for businesses using a popular Hashtag such as this to gain greater exposure.
Now I am not suggesting hijacking a Hashtag by posting completely irrelevant content, particularly if your ideal customers are unlikely to be interested in the event. That can actually negatively impact your reach should anyone Hide your posts or mark them as SPAM.

Get Greater Reach In The Facebook Newsfeed

My newsfeed was inundated with Melbourne Marathon posts because of the above factors working together in unison to inform Facebook that I wanted to see more stories related to the event.
You too can use these signals to your advantage to help you achieve greater reach on Facebook.
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