Seems like everyone is talking about their organic reach falling through the floor lately.
Organic reach is the number of people who see posts from your Facebook page in their news feed.
Here's how Facebook defines organic reach:
Organic reach is the total number of unique people who were shown your post through unpaid distribution.
Many page managers still think their posts are (and should be) shown to all their fans.
Four years ago... maybe. But not today!
Facebook now uses a complex algorithm to determine what users see in their news feed. And there was outrage recently when some page managers & marketers realized Facebook's algorithm was showing their posts to fewer of their fans.
Facebook is screwing us!
Show our posts to all our fans!
This is bait & switch!
You get the point.
But people complain whenever Facebook makes a change on the website.
And yes, there was a time when I hated the news feed algorithm -- but then I learned to leverage it for good.
Organic Reach is Down, But Facebook Says "Don't be Sad"
Facebook has always had trouble explaining changes & new features to its users.
The social network has done a poor job informing page owners about how the news feed works. Though, they have made improvements.
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Facebook now updates users more frequently about changes -- especially changes to the news feed algorithm.
A Facebook official wrote a great post recently about impacts to organic reach. The article addressed questions like:
Why Organic Reach has Dropped
There are 2 main reasons.
1) More and more content is being created and shared every day. Today, thanks to devices like smartphones, many people can share this content with just a few swipes of the finger or taps of a button. On average there are 1500 stories that could appear in a person's News Feed each time you log into Facebook.
2) Rather than showing people all possible content, News Feed is designed to show each person on Facebook the content that's most relevant to them. Of the 1500+ stories a person might see whenever they log onto Facebook, News Feed displays approximately 300. To choose which stories to show, News Feed ranks each possible story by looking at thousands of factors relative to each person.
Why All Your Fans Don't See All Your Posts
Several other online feed platforms display all content in real time. But the real-time approach has limitations. People only have so much time to consume stories, and people often miss content that isn’t toward the top when they log on. This means they often do not see the content that’s most valuable to them.
In our tests, we’ve always found that the News Feed ranking system offers people a better, more engaging experience on Facebook. Additionally, given the amount of content in the average News Feed, using a real-time system for content would actually cause Pages’ organic reach to decrease further.
Why Facebook isn't Just Trying to Make Money
(great question that I'm glad Facebook had the guts to address)
Our goal is always to provide the best experience for the people that use Facebook. We believe that delivering the best experiences for people also benefits the businesses that use Facebook. If people are more active and engaged with stories that appear in News Feed, they are also more likely to be active and engaged with content from businesses.
How Reach has Declined on other Websites
Many large marketing platforms have seen declines in organic reach. Online search engines, for instance, provided a great deal of free traffic to businesses and websites when they initially launched. People and businesses flocked to these platforms, and as the services grew there was more competition to rank highly in search results. Because the search engines had to work much harder to surface the most relevant and useful content, businesses eventually saw diminished organic reach.
While many platforms experience a change in organic reach, some are more transparent about these changes than others. Facebook has always valued clear, detailed, actionable reports that help businesses see what’s happening with their content. And over time we will continue to expand and improve our already strong reporting tools.
The Good News
Some page managers are wondering whether to invest time & money getting more people to Like their Facebook pages.
What’s the value of someone liking my page if fans don't see my posts in their news feed?
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Fans absolutely have value.
- Fans make your ads more effective. When an ad has social context — in other words, when a person sees their friend likes your business — your ads drive, on average, 50% more recall and 35% higher online sales lift.
- Fans also make the ads you run on Facebook more efficient in our ads auction. Ads with social context are a signal of positive quality of the ad, and lead to better auction prices.
- You can use insights about your fans — like where they live, and their likes and interests — to inform decisions about reaching your current and prospective customers
- Fans can give your business credibility
Fans may represent your best customers, but it’s important to note that they don’t represent all of your customers or potential customers. For example, if your auto dealership has 5,000 fans, those fans represent only a fraction of the people that matter to your business. Fans can help you achieve your business objectives on Facebook, but having fans should not be thought of as an end unto itself.
How to Use Facebook for Business
Organic content still has value on Facebook, and Pages that publish great content — content that teaches people something, entertains them, makes them think, or in some other way adds value to their lives — can still reach people in News Feed. However, anticipating organic reach can be unpredictable, and having a piece of content “go viral” rarely corresponds to a business’s core goals. Your business will see much greater value if you use Facebook to achieve specific business objectives, like driving in-store sales or boosting app downloads.
How to Stay on Top of the Changes
We'll always innovate on behalf of the people who use Facebook. And we must be more transparent with and helpful to the businesses that market on Facebook. We’re working hard to improve our communications about upcoming product changes. For example, in April we let you know about how right column ads will be changing to increase engagement and to make it easier for businesses to create these ads. We're committed to helping your business grow and making sure you get the most from your investment in Facebook.
Now that you've read Facebook's side, here are some ways page managers can respond to this new information:
- Continue whining about loss of organic reach
- Ignore changes -- keep doing what you're doing
- Embrace changes -- leverage for your success
I chose #3.
Sure, this means having to change my Facebook marketing strategy -- or spend more than I expected on Facebook ads.
But that's part of business!
Times change, platforms change. What works & doesn't work changes.
Deal with it!
You have to spend money on Facebook ads to get new Likes. You have to spend money on Facebook ads to show off your products. You have to spend money on boosted posts so that your fans see your content.
These are all requirements for running a business on Facebook.
Nobody should expect a free ride!
If you unfollow, unfriend or unlike the folks you don't care to see in your news feed, your experience on Facebook will improve dramatically.
Use Facebook interest lists to keep track of important people & pages.
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And don't just skim your news feed, when you see content from your favorite pages or people -- Like the posts or leave a comment, so you see more from those pages in the future.
What do you think of the recent changes to the news feed?
Was Facebook's explanation sufficient?