Let’s face it, organic reach is virtually dead.
If you’re not familiar, organic reach is how many people you can reach for free when you post on Facebook. Of particular importance is how many of the people who have already liked your page that you reach. In theory, they should be your most loyal audience members.
For the past 2 years, brand pages large and small have watched as reach and engagement fell sharply. According to Ogilvy, in the months after late 2013’s Timeline changes were implemented, organic reach dropped to roughly 6% on average. For pages with over 500k likes, reach dropped to as low as 2%.
Since that time much doesn’t appear to have improved. If fact, Facebook just announced more adjustments that will likely impact reach yesterday.
As an experiment, I examined the last 25 posts on a page with 491k Likes yesterday. I found that on average their posts had 86 Likes and 27 Shares. Unfortunately, I don’t have access to that page’s Insights to see what kind of reach those posts had, but we can only assume it was south of 1% on average to have such low engagement.
Doesn’t exactly make you feel good about putting time and effort into your Facebook page does it?
Why is this happening?
Facebook knows that if users feel like they’re inundated with posts from pages they’ve liked and not from their friends, they won’t be happy with their experience. This is becoming an ever increasing concern for them as content creation has steadily risen. As I’m sure you’re well aware, pages are now pumping out more posts than ever as they vie for our attention. To combat this, Facebook devised an algorithm that uses thousands of factors to determine what you see, and what you don’t see, in your feed.
It’s also about content control. Just last year, Facebook rolled out Facebook Instant, a content hosting tool that they offered to major content creators like Buzzfeed, National Geographic, and BBC. It works similarly to the way that LinkedIn Publisher works, except there are only a small amount of brands with access to it at the moment. Those brands have traded traffic to their own sites for better reach on Facebook by agreeing to host their content on the platform. Facebook favors this content in their algorithm because they understand that once they host the content they then control traffic and have more leverage over page owners. Though this doesn’t apply to the average business today, rest assured that if the model works well, Facebook will roll it out further and expect everyone to host their content on the platform if they want it to have a decent reach.
Finally, it’s about money…though we’ll probably never hear Facebook admit that. Decreasing organic reach under the guise of an improved user experience was the best way to drive ad revenue. Having a huge base of people who have liked your page is useless if none of them see your posts after all. The only remedy is spending money to boost posts or on ads through Ads Manager.
So is it a total loss? Can you improve your Facebook Page’s Organic Reach?
I’ve had conversation after conversation where people say they’re going to stop investing so much time in their Facebook presence due to this issue. They say Facebook has gone too far with their pay to play model. I tend to agree, but don’t think all is lost just yet. Seeing as it remains the biggest social network on the planet, abandoning it would be an ill-advised choice. I plan to continue with best practices while playing around with a few creative strategies to boost reach along the way.
As always, the success of these strategies (and on social media in general) is entirely dependent on coming to the table with quality content.
It’s common knowledge that Facebook prioritizes posts containing videos and photos over text-only posts. We’re visual creatures after all, so this is a bit of a no-brainer. Simply by including an image with your post, you can reap the benefits here. We suggest using Pablo if you’re in need of a tool for quick social media graphics. On the video front, the key is hosting your video natively versus linking to an outside site like YouTube. As we’ve already said, Facebook heavily prioritizes content it is hosting.
As I mentioned earlier, content creation is at an all-time high. This means you’re competing with more brands and more posts for user attention, particularly at peak hours. One creative way to use this to your advantage is to realize most people are posting during peak hours…and do the opposite. You’ll be competing for less attention, but you’ll also be competing with less content, increasing your chances of making into the feeds of those that have liked your page.
Here’s the graph of when everyone that likes my page is typically online. A great way to carefully implement this strategy is to share evergreen content during off-peak hours and measure the results. That way, you’re not wasting a great and time-sensitive update if you don’t see a better reach. For me, this would be between 11 pm and 6 am.
A big portion of Facebook’s algorithm focuses on how a user has interacted with you in the past. Do they like your page? Have they liked or shared any of your recent posts? Have they mentioned you in one of their recent posts? Though it goes without saying, the more you interact with your audience, the more they’ll interact with you (that’s Social Media 101). Due to that interaction, your posts will be more likely to show up in their feed. Asking questions and making sure every comment gets a thoughtful reply are musts!
If All Else Fails…Make It Rain
You can always attach that CC to your account and start handing Facebook your money. Your reach and engagement are guaranteed to improve. Just make sure you always have a solid call to action so that you can recoup your costs.