Facebook Organic Reach is In Decline: What Should You Do About It?

Don't get depressed when you're doing your Facebook organic reach stats on a Monday morning, everyone is experiencing the same phenomenon - declining organic reach.When Facebook announced the change to the newsfeed algorithm back in December, organic reach per post was expected to fall to about 1-2%. The evidence is that organic reach was falling well before this. According to EdgeRank Checker (as reported by eMarketer) the median organic reach of Facebook posts amongst Facebook pages worldwide fell from 16% in February 2012 to 6.5% in March 2013, and most of this fall happened before Facebook's December announcement.It's easy to label these changes as a cynical attempt by Facebook to get brands to spend money on the platform and that's no doubt part of the story - they do have investor expectations to meet. But Facebook is also trying to make maintain and grow its user base and cluttering up their feeds with sometimes irrelevant information from brand pages is not the way to do it. Don't forget, there's been an explosion in brand pages over the last few years and the number of people following those brand pages. As each individual follows more brands, it makes sense that Facebook only shows the brand posts that each individual user finds most engaging - otherwise they won't be able to see what their friends are up to for all the brand posts clogging their feeds.So what do you do about it? Here are 3 approaches:

  • You relegate the importance of reach as a metric - this might seem a rather disingenuous suggestion but reach was always a 'secondary' metric, surely? Most important is what those people reached and engaged by your posts are doing. Levels of referral traffic, quality of that traffic etc are surely more important, and if you delve into your metrics, you may find that reach isn't the core driver of these primary metrics.
  • You post better organic content - look back into your Facebook metrics over the past 3-6 months, both Facebook side and site side, and see what type of content is really working. If that doesn't yield any inspiration, look at the strategies of competitors or those in related industries. As a rule, visual content gets the most engagement, and if those visuals give fans a 'behind the scenes' insight into your business, that's even better. You also should experiment with the timing of your posts - often posting when other brands aren't can yield more reach and engagement.
  • Realise that you're going to need to start spending some money - if reach is a core metric for you and you've done all you can to boost your organic reach but aren't achieving the results you'd like, then advertising is the only option. Don't forget, as more engage in the promotion of their posts, organic reach will decline as promoted posts will get priority - you may have to take a 'if you can't beat them, join them' view. We'd recommend promoting posts that you know have been successful organically, as you that'll ensure your budget goes further.

There are those who predict that organic posts may become a thing of the past and that promoted posts and advertising will be the only ways to reach often expensively assembled fan bases in the future. We think that's unlikely although the continued decline of organic posts is inevitable.Brands are going to have to get used to a new world where organic posts become a way to engage their core audience, but where promoted posts and advertising is the only way to reach out to their wider Facebook following.However, this moves Facebook from the 'earnt' into the 'paid' media category. It will be interesting to see whether it still measures up for brands when judged by these different, and more rigorous, criteria.