For Facebook marketers, the D-Day for "Organic Reach Zero" has been looming large for years.
Organic reach is the number of people who see your page’s post in their news feed or on your page, and includes people who see a friend like, comment or share your post.
We wrote about it here on the blog back in 2013. Since then, posts from Facebook pages have seen a continued decline in reach, as more and more posts jostle for attention on your timeline.
And yet ... here we are in 2015, still posting updates on our clients' social media accounts, and seeing evidence that organic reach is alive (but not necessarily well).
The latest research
During February 2015, a company called Locowise pulled stats from thousands of pages to better ascertain the state of organic reach. Here's what it found:
- The pages’ average organic reach was approximately 7% of total likes, with that figure rising to 11% for pages with fewer than 10 000 likes. Those with 10 000 to 99 999 likes saw 6% reach, while those with more than 100 000 were at 5%
- Links drew the most organic reach (18%), followed by videos (9%), text-only status updates (9%) and photos (7%)
What's interesting is that a 6% to 11% reach is far from zero. Look, it's not great, and we've alerted our clients to these low figures to ensure that we're not exerting huge amounts of energy on diminishing returns. However, if you have 50 000 likes and are still getting your content to 3 000 people for "free", that's no reason to panic.
The other useful takeaway from this research is that links, rather than photos, are currently enjoying a better reach (I say currently because ol' Zuckerberg and his crew are constantly tinkering with the algorithm).
This means it's doubly important to use a good photo on your original post (most likely on your website), so that it pulls through as a thumbnail preview on Facebook.
What's all the fuss about?
Marketers tend to panic whenever Facebook announces a change to the way posts are displayed – but unless they are following dodgy practices, they needn't worry (yet). Most of the changes have actually improved the overall quality of posts that a user sees, and made it harder for pushy, over-promotional content to be seen.
"Users don’t like being sold to," explains Jon Loomer, an online marketing coach. "If you share content with the primary goal of getting a sale or install, expect it to perform poorly in the news feed. If you really want people to see it, promote it with an ad."
And he's right. This is why organic reach is on the decline. There is a time and a place for selling things on Facebook, and it is in a promoted (paid-for) post.
If you are not trying to do a hard sell, but rather sharing stories, updates and conversations with your followers, apply the same rule we always follow: make it interesting, well written and engaging.