Due to the ever-changing Facebook News Feed algorithm, many marketers believe the days of organic Facebook reach are over. But while it might be more difficult for your content to perform well organically, it's surely not impossible - and we're about to prove it. Read on to discover ten effective ways to beat the algorithm and improve your organic reach!
The tricky topic of declining organic Facebook reach has been causing headaches and lengthy debates among marketers over the past year.
That’s because, due to Facebook’s algorithm change, organic reach on the platform took a major nosedive in 2018 – a peak of the trend that started all the way back in 2014.
So, what on earth is Facebook up to, you ask?
With the new algorithm, Facebook is encouraging more “meaningful interactions” which prioritize posts from friends, family, and groups over business pages.
These changes made it clear the platform was no longer prioritizing business content over more meaningful and interactive posts coming from users’ direct networks.
Are you finding yourself feeling totally baffled by Facebook Insights and the differences between Organic Reach and Impressions?
We hear you, you’re not alone.
First of all, let’s be honest – Reach might be getting just too much hype. In fact, it might be the one metric that marketers stress about way too much.
The thing is, Reach is only one small metric that means very little in the grand scheme of things, as John Loomer says – and I couldn’t agree more.
So, what exactly is Facebook organic Reach?
In a word, organic Reach means the number of unique users who saw your Page post in News Feed or on your Page, not as a result of an ad.
On Facebook, there are many types of Reach. At first glance, that can be confusing.
When looking at Facebook Insights (unless you download data to dig deeper), you’ll see Post Reach metrics which include organic and paid data as well as Total Reach data. Both include Organic Reach data.
Let’s demystify those three terms.
Post Reach is the number of people who had any posts from your Page enter their screen, according to Facebook Insights. It’s merely a measurement of how many people see a particular post. It’s the number of unique users who saw your page post in news feed or on your page. This can be paid or organic.
Organic Reach is the number of people who have seen your post through unpaid distribution. Organic Reach works similarly to ranking on search engines, but Facebook bases what you see on aspects like popularity, post frequency, the likelihood you’ll like a post and more.
Total Reach is the number of people who had any content from your Page or about your Page enter their screen, according to Facebook Insights. This shows the total number of people who saw a post, including fans and people you don’t know. It’s data with and without ads.
Now that you know what Reach is, you might be wondering – what are Impressions?
Impressions refer to how many times a post was seen including multiple views from the same users.
Facebook uses little magic fairies to analyze posts, or, to be more precise, they leverage programming to organize posts based on the possibility that the user might interact positively with that post.
This process is called ranking – the posts you’re likely to interact with get higher ranking scores and show up on your feed as the content you may like. Ranking curates a more “meaningful interaction” with the user, which is the main focus of Facebook’s new algorithm.
With the term “meaningful interaction,” we’re talking thousands of factors. One of them is trigger words, such as “congrats,” that signal content important to users that Facebook will prioritize.
In a nutshell, posts in the News Feed aren’t ordered chronologically. Instead, users see what Facebook believes could be most meaningful, exciting, or useful to them.
Some of the key factors Facebook takes into accounts when ranking posts are:
If you’re still not sure what Facebook defines as meaningful posts, here’s a short video where they explain the idea:
Now, let’s move on to a snapshot as to why your Facebook organic Reach has taken a nosedive.
If you have a Facebook Business page or you’ve been managing one, you may have noticed a drop in your reach and engagement metrics – especially throughout 2018.
Wondering why that might be the case?
It comes down to two simple reasons: Ads competing for news feed space and Facebook’s 2018 News Feed algorithm update.
The thing is, we didn’t realize how spoilt we were when Facebook first launched the News Feed in 2006. Back then, posts were valued on a point system, so the News Feed was relatively easy to navigate and outsmart.
Fast forward to today, and the News Feed algorithm has become pickier, evolving in such a way that gives marketers and business owners cold sweats.
As we mentioned above, Facebook now prioritizes and rewards content that produces meaningful interactions above all else.
According to a private Facebook webinar hosted in January 2018, those priorities are:
Clearly, Facebook’s end goal is ensuring that the content they push to the top of the News Feed sparks meaningful interactions.
This information might tempt you to use engagement baits to increase your likes and comments – don’t do it, though! Facebook will see right through it, and your post will be demoted!
While it is still early to measure the overall impact of the declining organic Facebook Reach, some businesses are already seeing large setbacks.
In this Facebook Marketing report analyzing 43 million Facebook Business pages, Buffer and Buzz Sumo found that overall Facebook page engagement has dropped by 50%.
Many marketers believe that the reason why organic reach is going down is straightforward – Facebook wants to encourage brands to spend more money on paid advertising.
There is something to it – after all, Facebook itself recommended you should assume organic reach will eventually arrive at zero. So, if you really want to reach your target audience on Facebook, you’ll need to supplement your organic efforts with some paid advertising.
Regardless of the reasons behind the algorithm update, though, one thing is certain: the days of chronological feeds and easily attained organic reach are gone.
Here’s the good news: even though the Facebook algorithm might not currently work in marketers’ favor, improving your organic reach is possible.
All you need to do is know and apply the right tactics.
To combat the News Feed changes, you first and foremost should publish content that’s visually attractive and interesting. This type of content will help you start a meaningful conversation with your audience and encourage them to interact, especially in the comments section.
But that’s just one tip – there’s so much more you can do!
Here are some proven ways to boost your organic Facebook reach:
#1. Publish Native Facebook Video
If you want to improve your organic reach, you need to start capitalizing on one of the most attractive and easy-to-consume content formats – video.
Native Facebook videos achieve a higher organic reach rate compared to statuses, links, or even photos. In fact, native videos can help you reach 135% more users organically than images!
So how do you make the most of the format?
Create content that acts as a scroll stopper, for example by being emotionally charged, expressing the understanding of your audiences’ needs, and offering solutions to their problems. The trick here is delivering the most valuable, compelling information in the first 3-5 seconds of the video to engage the viewers.
Also, make sure that your videos aren’t too preoccupied with your brand and instead focus on your community, with a hyper-focus on your buyer personas.
Finally, add captions to your videos or animations to make them easier to consume.
Following these steps will help you create great videos that are bound to achieve a high reach on Facebook.
PRO TIP: Facebook rewards you with a 10x higher reach for sharing native videos directly to the platform. But if you want to connect users to your YouTube channel (for example to collect data for Google Ads) and are worried your organic reach might drop, try publishing a mix of native videos and YouTube links.
#2. Go Live.
You can also use another video format – Live – to improve your Facebook organic reach.
Interestingly, Socialbakers’ research found that as much as 80% of brands receive higher organic reach with Facebook Live videos over native videos:
Because Live videos have a huge potential to spark conversations, they receive six times more interactions than regular videos. Since people love tuning in and interacting with videos happening right now, users spend three times more time watching live broadcasts compared to non-live videos.
Needless to say, all this data is worth keeping in mind when building a reach-oriented content strategy!
A topic that works particularly well for Live videos is the “ask me anything” Q&A’s. This format helps you establish an authentic connection with your audience, and give back to your followers by supporting their needs.
It also allows you to learn more about your community, and tailor your future content accordingly to deliver maximum value.
To unlock the Live format’s full potential, you need to experiment with different topics and see what works best for your brand based on engagement.
Plus, make sure to post about any upcoming live streams on Stories, posts, groups, advertising, and emails to build awareness and excitement.
#3. Mix up Your Post Formats
Even though video can shoot up your Facebook organic reach, it shouldn’t be the only content format you’re leveraging on the platform!
Mixing up your post formats is essential to keeping your feed attractive and your audiences interested. Remember – the more interesting and diverse your content, the higher the chance your followers will share it, which will increase your organic reach.
So what are some of the other post types that work?
As far as content topics are concerned, the sky’s the limit.
You can post something entertaining, such as a sneak-peek behind-the-scenes of your business, or something that’s easy to create, such as a funny meme.
As long as your posts are quality, compelling, and on par with your audience’s interests, they are likely to earn you tons of shares and organic reach!
#4. Fine-tune Your Publishing Time
Getting your publishing time right is essential to improving your organic Facebook reach.
That’s because posting when your audiences are online increases the visibility and organic reach of your content.
One way to figure out the optimal posting time for your business is by looking into your performance data and pinpointing a pattern of increased interactions.
For example, if you see your engagement regularly going up on Mondays and Wednesdays at 8 pm, it’s a hint you should publish at that time.
You can also skip the manual analysis and discover your best publishing times in a click with tools like Socialbakers PrimeTime.
PRO TIP: If you want your audience to see your content every time you publish, ask them to turn on their notifications for your posts. It’s a great way to improve your visibility organically!
#5. Say Goodbye to Clickbaits
Although using clickbaits is tempting, you should avoid it at all costs!
Clickbaits definitely won’t help you win more Facebook organic reach – they’ll actually do the opposite and get your posts demoted.
Facebook pays enormous attention to post quality. This means that if you publish poor-quality content or questionable links, you’ll likely draw the platform’s attention, and not in a good way.
That’s why, every time you create and post content, stay away from shady practices such as using clickbaits – it’s just not worth the risk.
#6. Tap into Facebook Groups
Another great way to boost your Facebook organic reach is leveraging Facebook Groups.
Posting in Groups allows you to share content to people interested in topics related to your business. As a result, you can reach a large user segment that is relevant to your company and therefore more likely to click-through on your posts.
Don’t be afraid to set up your own group to bring together like-minded users and enable information sharing. Such a space works great for not only improving your organic Facebook reach, but also boosting your email lists, and strengthening the connection with your audience.
#7. Encourage Interactions
Sometimes, boosting organic reach requires you being vocal about it.
So, along with leveraging subtle tactics your audience might not be aware of, you need to give your followers clear call to actions.
These can include reminding users to turn on notifications for your posts. You can also encourage your followers to like and comment on your content using mini prompts – for example, at the end of your videos or GIFs.
It’s also a good idea to let your audiences know they should check the “Pages” tab to see the latest updates from the Pages they follow – ideally, one of them is yours!
#8. Target Your Organic Posts
Using organic post targeting can improve your Facebook organic reach.
This option enables you to get your posts in front of a selected group of users who are most likely to engage with your content. As a result, your content has a higher chance to earn shares and, as a result, also improve your organic reach.
Not sure how to use Facebook organic post targeting? Check out this guide from Social Media Examiner that explains the process in detail.
#9. Be More Human
Another tactic that helps to increase shares and organic reach is humanizing your brand.
If you interact with Facebook users as a human being, personalize your responses, and show that you genuinely care about your community, people will feel more connected to your business and more compelled to spread your message further.
It is also important that you engage your audience in an active dialogue, for example by asking thoughtful questions. This is a great way to initiate interactions which, again, helps to improve your organic Facebook reach.
To maximize the potential of your content to generate shares, learn about your followers. Understand your audience personas‘ demographics, affinities, and behaviors to be able to tailor your posts accordingly and make them more shareable.
#10. Activate Assets
Now that you know Facebook is prioritizing content from friends and family over businesses, you can use this fact to your advantage.
Encourage your employees, friends, and family to engage with your business content. This way, you increase the number of people who share your posts with their private networks – which naturally boosts your Facebook organic reach.
In addition, because your business posts are shared among friends and family members, they’re more likely to be consumed.
After all, who wouldn’t read an article their best friend just posted on Facebook?
Even though organic Facebook reach is dropping, it’s not dead yet, and there still are ways to combat the News Feed algorithm. The game surely has changed, but you can play it well and to your advantage using the tips outlined in this article.
Staying on top of the Facebook algorithm changes and adjusting your strategy accordingly might seem overwhelming. Yet, if you shift the focus away from your brand and think audience-first, you’ll be able to create amazing content, get more shares, and skyrocket your organic Facebook reach.
About the Author
Inspiring, relentless, and successful entrepreneur Jeannie Hind created digital agency Create Your Masterpiece and is also Co-Owner of Poseidon Studios, a high-end digital agency. Both focus on supporting brands to leverage the online space.
Jeannie’s mission is to inspire others to live their greatest lives by unleashing their true potential through human optimization, mindset, and skyrocketing their business online in creative ways. She’s worked with huge names like Motel One, Nike, Emirates, Music stars, and more to take their online presence from zero to hero with her two agencies.
Understand your audience, create more effective content to engage and grow your customer base, and measure social media’s impact on your business goals.