Facebook Organic Reach Drop May Not Affect All Pages

Facebook Organic Reach is DroppingSocial media marketers have been talking about Facebook reach for years. This week, however, their conversation took on a bit more urgency, thanks to Friday night’s Facebook announcement and a blunt blanket statement from Forrester Research that brands are wasting money by dedicating resources to the network.

My first reaction was to ignore this conversation, as I’m on record with the opinion that relevant content matters more than post-specific reach statistics. But then I saw people I know and respect tweeting that they believe organic reach will not exist for pages in the not-so-distant future. So, I got to thinking,

As a social media marketer, what would I do if Facebook disabled organic reach?

Imagine A World With No Facebook Organic Reach

I asked my Twitter followers (almost 3,000 of them) what they would do if this happened, but only one person responded, out of the 173 people that potentially saw it. That’s right—my Twitter reach was about 6%.

Which also goes to demonstrate that if you’re stressed about Facebook reach you should also be stressing about Twitter, but that’s beside the point.

If organic reach was truly gone, I think I would still advise my organization to use Facebook, but as a way of sending messages to people that have already given us their contact information (custom audiences are your friend). And my team wouldn’t have to come up with 20-25 pieces of content per week, because we wouldn’t pay to distribute that much. Basically, we’d severely augment our Facebook strategy.

Why Organic Reach Won’t Disappear—For Many

But, I don’t think organic Facebook reach is going to be yanked from pages like the one I manage. Our page exists to inform and engage our customers about a topic that is somewhat mysterious and confusing. We don’t ask anyone to buy anything, so the January change to the Newsfeed algorithim shouldn’t —theoretically—affect us.

I imagine many non-profits, educational institutions, and publishers feel the same way. While discussing the topic with me today, Jacob Dolan, Director of Web and Digital Communications at Montana State University, offered a unique perspective.

“We will actually come out ahead or at least stay the same, but with less junk to compete with.”

A Realistic View of Facebook Reach

I already have a realistic perspective of Facebook reach, which allows me to act calmly and rationally in response to the recent news. Here’s what I expect from our Facebook page, which has over 60,000 likes:

  • About 60% of the time, I’ll reach less than 2% of my audience with any particular post. There are a handful of highly engaged followers that see every single post we publish in their Newsfeed—I know this because they like and/or share them all. They’ve demonstrated to Facebook that every post matters.
  • Another 30-35% of the time, I’ll reach 3-5% of our followers with a single piece of content.
  • About 5% of the time, a post will reach 15-20% of our users organically, and we’ll consider that a “greatest hit.

But over the course of a month, more than half of our fans will see at least one piece of content that’s relevant to them. They probably don’t want to hear from us any more than that.

We augment this strategy with promoted posts (not boosted posts, but strategically promoted posts as suggested  by Jon Loomer), and I’m continually collecting data so when I promote a post I know exactly how many people I can reach, how fast, and at what cost. I can quantify what Facebook reach costs my organization, and make an educated decision on whether or not I want to pay for it.

Who Should Be Concerned About Facebook Reach

I think Jacob is absolutely right. If you are on Facebook for the sole purpose of selling products or services, and you’re unable to offer any content that is instructional, useful, or entertaining—you should be very concerned about this news. If you don’t fall into that category, it’s likely business as usual for you … until the next big announcement from Facebook.

Isn’t it fun to work in a field that changes all the time and keeps us on our toes?

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2 Comments on “Facebook Organic Reach Drop May Not Affect All Pages

  1. About this sentence in your post:

    But over the course of a month, more than half of our fans will see at least one piece of content that’s relevant to them

    Do you calculate which is the best number of posts per week in your page? Do you do it trying to maximize the organic monthly reach?


    • Good question, Ignacio. We’ve seen good success with 3-4 posts per day during the week, and one post per day on the weekend. We reduced our weekend post volume after an analysis of reach and engagement we completed this summer. We haven’t experimented with posting more than 3-4 times per day, because we don’t have the resources to support that volume of posting.

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