Firstly, what is Organic Reach on Facebook?
Organic reach refers to how many people you can reach for free on Facebook by posting to your Page.
Facebook has been receiving many questions from people who are concerned about declines in organic reach on their Facebook Pages. In this article, Facebook answers these questions to help you understand what’s driving this change so your business can succeed on Facebook.
Why is organic reach declining?
There are two main reasons.
The first reason involves a simple fact: More and more content is being created and shared every day. You’ve probably felt this change yourself. Just a few years ago, sharing important moments and experiences, articles you’ve read, and photos and videos of your loved ones was a relatively labor-intensive process. 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.
There is now far more content being made than there is time to absorb it. On average, there are 1,500 stories that could appear in a person’s News Feed each time they log onto Facebook. For people with lots of friends and Page likes, as many as 15,000 potential stories could appear any time they log on.
As a result, competition in News Feed — the place on Facebook where people view content from their family and friends, as well as businesses — is increasing, and it’s becoming harder for any story to gain exposure in News Feed. In addition to the growth in content, people are also liking more Pages. Facebook’s director of product management for News Feed told TechCrunch this April the total number of Pages liked by the typical Facebook user grew more than 50% last year. With each new Page like, competition in News Feed increases even further.
The second reason involves how News Feed works. 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 1,500+ 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 (from more to less important) by looking at thousands of factors relative to each person.
Over the past year, Facebook has made some key changes to improve how News Feed chooses content:
- Facebook has gotten better at showing high-quality content
- And they’ve cleaned up News Feed spam
As a result of these changes, News Feed is becoming more engaging, even as the amount of content being shared on Facebook continues to grow.
Why not just show everything — every piece of content from every friend and Page — and let people decide what they want to see?
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 Facebook tests, they’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.
Is organic reach dropping because Facebook is trying to make more money?
No. Facebook’s goal is always to provide the best experience for the people that use Facebook. They 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.
Is Facebook the only marketing platform that’s seen declines in organic reach?
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 they will continue to expand and improve the already strong reporting tools.
Ok, there’s more content now. But what’s the value of having more people like my Page? I paid good money for my fans on Facebook, and now I can’t reach as many of them.
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.