Facebook’s organic reach crisis is hitting brands where it hurts: Their wallets.
Organic reach – the number of people who are exposed to a Facebook page’s unpaid content – has been declining for over a year.
Facebook has acknowledged the drop, citing increased competition for limited space in news feeds. While this may be true, common belief is that the drop is meant to encourage ad spend. With over 1 billion users worldwide and the ability to target hyper-specific segments, marketers can’t afford to ignore the network, whether or not it means they have to pay to reach consumers.
With the slow and steady decline of organic reach over the last couple of years, it was easier to mitigate with minor ad spend, but the extent of this decline has become much more dramatic over the last several months.
According to a recent study by Social@Oglivy, the average reach of organic posts has declined from 12.05% in October to 2.11% in February. According to AdAge, two years ago, Facebook told marketers that 16% of their fans were seeing their organic posts.
In less than a year, Facebook pages with more than 1M fans have seen their reach drop by 40% - Wisemetrics
So how does a brand marketer counteract this nearly complete absence of organic reach? There are a few key ways to give your page a bump:
According to a Wisemetrics study of Facebook brand pages, extra posts can lead to a substantial increase in reach. This may seem like a basic finding, until you look at how much it can help increase your reach. In fact, according to our friends at Wisemetrics, posting a second piece of content will only overlap the reach of the first publication by 30% .This means 70% of the fans who see the second post weren’t exposed to the first.
Sharing is a way to get around Facebook’s “You’re a brand and we don’t want to organically share your content” classification (which is the technical term). Once a user shares your content, Facebook recognizes it as being from an individual, not a brand. This will make your content rank higher in their friends’ news feeds.
A while back, Facebook added “clicks” to your reach calculation. This created a shift in the way your content types affect your reach metrics. In a recent post on Facebook engagement rate, Lauren Berry called out a specific example of this:
A customer who runs one of the world’s largest online retail brands posted a photo meme that received 123 shares, 419 likes and 6 comments; a healthy level of engagement for her page post. She posted a link the next day with a photo as a thumbnail (which Facebook now enlarges) and received only 27 shares, and 2 comment threads.
The meme photo with 18 times higher engagement had a Reach of 11,256 – only 1/3rd the amount of the link post, which Reached 26,288 unique users. Moral of the story: Don’t let clicks in the engaged users metric deter you!
Understanding which content types, post frequency, and paid activity are affecting your reach is crucial at this stage. It’s important to know what drives change, and adds the most value for your brand. If that’s ad spend, you want to know. If it’s posting 12 times a week, you want to know that as well.
Track your reach details using Facebook Insights data, and look for trends and correlate them with the actions you’ve taken on your page. This can mean that a community manager needs insight into what a media buyer is doing, and vice versa. Communication where multiple parties are involved can be the most valuable tool you have.
I hate to say it, but Facebook is able to create this shift for a reason: Ads work. The minimum investment to get started with Facebook ads is only $1 so you can test and grow your campaign as you go. No need to take out a second mortgage just yet.
But all things in context. Measure the performance of your ads, and develop a strategy around concepts and content that drive real value.
To measure your Facebook account holistically, check out Simply Measured’s full suite of Facebook analytics complete with Insights reporting. Sign up for a FREE 14 day trial today.