Friday, 27 March 2015

Slaying the Giant: How to Beat Facebook's Algorithm

Facebook has done it again. Two months ago they stated that they would cut off Organic Reach for business pages. Then last month they announced that Facebook would change on March 12, 2015 the way Likes, Comments and Shares were tracked and that there would be less of them. It is unclear how you can count a physical action and come up with two different answers, but apparently Facebook can and they decided the number is going to be less. But never fear there are always opportunities for smart people that are willing to do the work. Facebook wants us all to take the easy route, the paid advert route, but that is a slippery slope with no possible chance of return.

Defying gravity:

March 12 the big Doomsday for Likes, Comments and Shares which are the primary factor that influences Reach came and went with little fanfare or scary happenings. In fact a local client of PRDA showed significant gains before and after, actually defying what was assumed to be the inevitable

Post Reach

EA FB  Post Reach March 2015.JPG

Total Reach

EA FB Total Reach March 2015.JPG

So how do you accomplish this?

Social media has become more science than social over the years and this has never been truer than now. To filter through the enormous amount of content the algorithms in social apps are becoming ever more complex to select what you might like to see best. There is also the issue of money and the increasing focus on paid advertising for revenue. Between these two forces it is almost impossible to achieve good views anymore.

But it can be done!!

SEO tricks of keyword optimisation, formatting and proper publishing at the right time of day can trigger the algorithms. PRDA works hard to determine what these triggers are and how to make them work for our clients. But if you are not an expert at SEO and social message optimisation then I recommend using advertising in a limited way. Putting small amounts of money behind a variety of your posts will help you achieve your reach goals and it will start to tell you what performs the best. Here is an example:

This client had a reach of 100 or less for each post. This was disappointing as it has 100,000 Fans. Something was not right. We started writing a range of different message and image combinations and put a small advertising budget behind them. Four different posts US$1.50 per day and this is what we achieved.

With an amount of about US$0.80 per day and optimised messages we increased the reach to 18,000 with the majority coming from Organic. The combination of good Organic methods and a small money boost made it shoot up. Facebook liked the fact we spend money, their algorithm like the content and between the two we got huge bonus value.

CND organic and paid reach FB post March 2015.JPG


Over dependence on any one strategy is not always good. Trying to beat the system by tricking algorithms is time consuming and risky if you are not experienced. Sticking to paid advertising is a one way path to endless payments. Try balancing strategies to see if the sum of the parts is greater than the whole.

Much success,


Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Social Media Writing for Humans: The Art and Science

Writing for social media is a tricky business. So much effort is put into turning an exciting phrase or sexing up a boring topic. To be really effective at social media writing, it is important to look deeper than the words you choose. Humans take in and process information in predictable ways. Understanding the psychology of memory, recognition, and retention are great tools to significantly increase the effectiveness of your message writing. You can still be fun and sexy, but now you can be smart too. Some simple rules to keep in mind when writing:

  • seven words
  • first and last are the most remembered words
  • familiar or emotionally loaded words work best

Seven words:

Human beings have a short-term working memory. At most, it can hold seven words. For me it is much less, but I am over 50 years old, ha ha. Keeping this in mind, the next time you are tempted to write a novel on Facebook remember that the average person will only see or remember seven words at most. It is important to make those seven words count. The more words you use, the less likely any of them will register or be remembered. More work = less reward.

First and Last:

When reading a sentence the first words and last words are remembered most. The end words are remembered the best. So if you have seven words to communicate the message to your fans, it is good to prioritise. The words you place at the beginning and end are the most important.

Familiar and emotional:

Put away the thesaurus! People scan messages and words that are familiar or have high emotional value register best. Keep it simple silly (KISS) for sexcess. What did you see in that last sentence????

Here is fun list of memory games I found. Play around with them and your message writing. Practice makes perfect.

Much success,


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Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Men "man up" for social good

Men love a good cause. This is well known. What is a bit more suprising is that men are now starting to outpace women in support of all types of charities and social programmes. A recent study by Barkely showed that 88% of men believe brands should support causes. Further, 55% of male internet users surveyed said they would pay more for a brand or product that supported a cause they cared about. Two-thirds said they would try a new brand because of a cause.

What does this mean for men? Well some men are taking it to extreme. Morgan Parker and Simon Lock have quit their jobs to ride  cross country on motorcyles for charity. The 20,000 kms journey from Hong Kong to Brisbane will stop in 10 countries to support and raise money for 10 charities. A different charity has been selected in each country. Find out more about Morgan and Simon's adventure @

Douglas White is the founder of PRDA one of Asia's leading social media agency.

Friday, 12 November 2010

Answer to the nature or nurture question: a look at RenRen and Facebook

RenRen and Facebook started out as virtually identical applications. The  basis was a free to join social network (SNS) that relied on the social graph for growth and sustainability.

 This still remains largely true, but from here the family resemblance stops. Born of the same mother but having been raised in different cultures, at adolescence we find them to be barely recognisable to each other.

Both have grown well, the strength is unquestioned and future bright, but key characteristics are almost diametrically opposite. Let’s explore four characteristics:


Facebook has often been called on their questionable and arbitrary changes to privacy settings. However, the members of Facebook have proven that they have strong sway in keeping Facebook management in line. Facebook provides an array of privacy settings that allow the individual to protect information. Facebook still  does not sell personal data or direct access to individuals pages.

RenRen has a slightly different take on privacy. I tend to agree more with the RenRen philosophy, SNS’s are for sharing, so by extension if you are on the site you should be open to this concept. RenRen provides full access (for a price) to reach their members for businesses. It is my understanding RenRen does not release personal information, but does facilitate direct contact.

Ease of entry:

Both Facebook and RenRen are free to join. But once again, there the similarities start to fade.

Facebook provides individuals, small business or just anyone a range of profile options such as personal profiles, groups or fan pages. Fan limits are either non-existent or set very high.

RenRen provides a single option for personal users with a 1000 fan maximum. This is satisfactory for most  personal users, but many small businesses or charities looking to jump on RenRen may find this size restriction a bit tight. For a small fee the limit can be raised to 2000, but there is still restrictions on customisation.


Facebook is a DIY wonderland. Customisation, free to use apps and widgets, fully functioning HTML pages give a range of options for customisation. If you are an entry level users or a large company, Facebook allows significant flexibility in customising your page provided you colour within the lines. What Facebook is lacking is any real B2C tools. Facebook is still predominantly a P2P network.

RenRen prefers to do the work for you. Tell them what you want and there is almost no limit on what they can do. As they control the code they can be much more indulgent on what is allowed. Of course it all comes at a cost. Additionally, RenRen offers a wide range of B2C products that may never find their way to Facebook.


If Facebook is a tool then RenRen is a sledge hammer.

Facebook allows for fairly accurate demographic segmentation and very small budgets. For as little as about HK$ 10 or US$ 1.5 a display ad campaign can be launched. It might not get you much, but literally you can reach one person.

RenRen is about HUGE numbers. After several meetings with RenRen it became clear that somewhere around 50,000 was a starting number and 100’s of thousands was an figure they were more comfortable. Since RenRen puts a limit on personal pages at 1000 fans, the only real way for business of any size to reach a larger audience is to upgrade to a B2C solution or Public page.

It is too bad that Facebook and RenRen can not play nice together because both offer interesting solutions and business models. Both models are, in my opinion, vastly different but valuable. However, RenRen continues to be almost elusively mainland China and Facebook is everywhere else.

Much success,


Friday, 27 August 2010

CLP goes green with online CSR campaign: Plant a tree

“Love the Earth, Plant a Tree” on-line campaign targets the planting of 100,000 virtual trees to advance green causes in Asia.
CLP Green Park
CLP Green Park Home Page
China Light and Power (CLP) has committed to a five year plan to plant 1 million trees across Asia. In a pure play digital initiative CLP is using social media to reach out and engage consumers to get excited about environmental issues in Asia. CLP is using social networks such as Facebook and RenRen, microblogging for Twitter and Weibo along with forums, blogs and other social channels to reach a diverse Asia population. The campaign is launched in 3 languages (English, Simplified and Traditional Chinese).
The focus of the campaign is an educational animated microsite. The microsite titled "CLP Green Garden" allows users to create their own animated avatar, invite friends, select from 5 different types of trees and plant it in their garden while learning about environmental issues in Asia. As more people plant trees in the park the park grows. More trees, exotic animals and friends come out to play.
The goal of the two month campaign is to plant 100,000 virtual trees and donate HK$500,000 dollars to Green Partners across Asia.
Find the Green Park on: