Providing Stats & Metrics to the Eat24 Facebook Discussion

There are many competing opinions about Facebook’s news feed and business tactics. We wanted to provide an updated look into some metrics to help guide these discussions with data.

For the typical Page on Facebook in March 2014:

  • Organic Reach per Fan = 6.51%
  • Fan Reach per Fan = 6.46%
  • Viral Reach per Fan = 0.99%

Where were we before this?

Organic Reach per Fan (Median):

  • Feb 2012 = 16%
  • Sep 2013 = 12.60%
  • Nov 2013 = 10.15%
  • Dec 2013 = 7.83%
  • Mar 2014 = 6.51%


Brands with “Social DNA” are now outperforming peers

Many different types of businesses are still doing very well on Facebook, even in terms of Reach. We’re starting to see that brands who naturally do well in social media are performing stronger than brands that traditionally struggle.

For example, artists/musicians/entertainers/movies are experiencing average Organic Reach well above their news feed competitors like retail/clothing/bank/appliances.

Part of the recent discussion around Facebook has been focused on local businesses against the larger “viral content creators.”


We pulled data from different sized Pages, and broke them out by a few key categories. As you can see in the breakdown, media/news/publishing is still performing quite strong compared to their peers. The typical large 1M+ Pages are experiencing Organic Reach around 4%.

An interesting observation: Fan Reach/Fan and Organic Reach/Fan are nearly identical.

In the past we tended to study Organic Reach/Fan. This was because we felt this was the most helpful metric due to Facebook presenting this number as often as possible in Insights. When Facebook discussed negative changes to brands they would rely on the (almost always) better looking metric of Fan Reach/Fan. However, these two numbers in our latest study are now nearly identical (~98% accuracy).


Organic Reach has decreased over the past few years. What we’re beginning to see is brands with “Social DNA” are now pulling away from the rest of the pack. Brands that struggle to engage their audience, when measured against brands like the NBA, are being urged by Facebook to use ads to “make up the difference.” There are still brands that are leveraging Facebook quite effectively, especially by leveraging things like Shares, and encouraging people to Organically discuss/promote their content (think Old Spice).

Interestingly, Viral Reach per Fan is up to 1.10% (0.60% in Feb 2013). Facebook is giving additional exposure to content that it deems “Viral.” If this number had significantly decreased, or approached 0—we would be concerned that Facebook was even further squeezing brands. However, this does not seem to be the case.

How did we study the data?

We looked at data for the month of March. We examined both Organic Reach as well as Fan Reach, although these two metrics were nearly the same over this time period. We examined just under 1,000 Pages that posted nearly 50,000 times. Most metrics reported are the Median of each Page’s average over this time period, unless stated otherwise.

Status Update’s Organic Reach Drops ~40%

Facebook made an announcement on Jan 21st explaining that Status Updates from Pages are less engaging than Status Updates from friends, therefore they would be decreasing the distribution of Status Updates. We wanted to examine the impact this change had on the average Page.

We found that the typical Page, when using Status Updates, experienced a 40% decrease in Reach, from roughly 18% down to 11% (Median Organic Reach / Fan). Before this update, Status Updates were widely considered the last content type still “untouched.” It now appears that all of the content types are treated roughly the same*.

Status-Update-Reach-Change-Jan2014 Continue reading

28 Day Study of Reach After December 2nd, 2013

Around December 2, 2013 many Page admins reported a significant change in their Organic Reach. We analyzed the data and found a decrease for the typical Page. When we studied the data, we had a small sample size—a few days on either side of December 2nd. At that time we found that Organic Reach did drop for the typical Page from ~9.5% to about ~7.7%.

Enough time has passed to enable us to study a more substantial time frame. We’ve assembled a study examining the 28 days before and after December 2nd. We found that for the 28 days prior to December 2nd, Organic Reach was ~10.2%. The 28 days after December 2nd dropped to 7.8%. These numbers are very similar to the data we found just days after the change.


How Was Each Content Type Impacted?

We looked at each individual content type as well. All of the content types decreased over this same time period. Each dropped off to roughly the same relative amount. Status Updates remain the clear favorite for pure Organic Reach, although we caution to only use content type for Reach. It’s most important to focus on the content types that drive the most engagement. Continue reading

The Unofficial Official Study of Reach Since December 2nd

September’s Reach was approximately 12.6%. In the week before the change, we were seeing Reach of about 9.5%. After the change, we’re seeing Reach of about 7.7% (a -19% change). So in the short term, we’re seeing a -19% change but from September to December, we saw a loss of -39%. The graph below shows that Reach fell from ~9.5% to about ~7.7%. Surprisingly, we did not see a drastic day in which a change was implemented—although many Admins reported seeing changes around 12/3.


What Happened?

Facebook made an announcement (12/2) addressing a few changes to the news feed:

  • More Links will be displayed within the news feed.
  • Links that are commented on by friends will receive a bump in the news feed.
  • Memes will receive a decrease in the news feed.

In an interview with All Things Digital (12/6), Facebook news feed manager Lars Backstrom said the changes “might have a 10 or 20 percent impact”. We heard from Admins and witnessed ourselves decreases that were much more severe than that.

After examining some preliminary data, we found that Status Updates had remained roughly equal in Reach—however, we saw significant decreases in Reach for Links and Photos (roughly 50%). We wanted to dive deeper in the data to find any trends.

What Did We Find?

Examining the week before December 2nd and the week after, Organic Reach decreased by roughly -21% from 9.4% to 7.5%. This loss was a continuation from September, when Reach was 12.6%. All in all, Reach has decreased quickly over the past few months. About a year and a half ago, Reach was approximately 16%. As of today, Reach is now half of that. Continue reading

Cyber Monday has less traffic than Black Friday & Thanksgiving

Thanks to a new data source from Facebook, we’re now able to study how many people were on Facebook throughout a day. We studied Facebook users’ behavior for Thanksgiving and Black Friday, and now we’ve compiled data for Cyber Monday.

Here’s a look at the traffic pattern for Cyber Monday:


Continue reading

How Did People Use Facebook On Thanksgiving & Black Friday?

When do people use Facebook on Thanksgiving and Black Friday? Facebook recently opened up access to a new metric that enables us to see exactly when your fans are online. We’ve examined when people are on Facebook in the past and found that users are mostly on during traditional waking hours. The more local a fan base, the more drastic this timing impacts your brand. We wanted to a take a look at Thanksgiving and Black Friday to see if there were any changes in the data.

Below is a graph of Facebook Audience Online Traffic (PST) for USA focused Facebook Pages. The green in the graph represents the average activity for the month of November. The red represents Thanksgiving traffic, and blue represents Black Friday‘s traffic.

Nov-2013-Facebook-Audience-Online-Traffic Continue reading

Average Facebook Page Reaches 12.6%

Facebook doesn’t often reveal baseline statistics for their platform. The typical number floating around regarding Reach is about 16%. Last Fall, there was some disagreement on this number as Facebook had made significant changes to the news feed algorithm.

Interestingly enough, when Facebook had studied Reach, they had examined Reach of Fans (which is included in Insights). This number was higher than some 3rd Party Analytical providers (including us) were seeing. Ironically, Facebook shows Organic Reach (including non-fans) in Insights, as the default view. In order to find this subtle difference, you must navigate to the Posts tabs, drill down Reach from Organic/Paid to Fans/Non-Fans. Facebook likes to show the user the higher number of the two in Insights, but tends to use a different number in their studies. To clarify, we’re using Organic Reach / Number of Fans on Day of Post.

Most Page Admins focus on Organic Reach as it relates to the size of their fan base to keep things relative. From time to time, we examine these impacts to see any changes across the board. We found that the average Facebook page reaches 12.6% of their audience.

Continue reading

How Does Posting Via Instagram Impact Engagement on Facebook?

Since Facebook acquired Instagram, we’ve been getting questions on how the news feed is being impacted. We’ve heard reports ranging from incredible success with Instagram, to it not having much of an impact, so we decided to take a look.

Posting Via Instagram Has No Impact on Facebook Page

Our initial hypothesis was that using Instagram would cause a small bump in engagement and exposure. The logic was two-fold: Facebook may have increased the weight of the objects, and posts from Instagram are always photos or videos—with visual filters—that are potentially more eye-catching.

However, our data shows that metrics such as Engagement, Organic Reach, and Viral Reach all remain fairly consistent while not using Instagram.

Median Engagement per Fan was fairly close, 2.39% for Facebook vs 2.15% on Instagram. This difference is within normal expectations.

Engagement-Rate-Instagram-vs-Facebook Continue reading

Hashtags on Facebook Do Nothing To Help Additional Exposure

Significant time has passed since Facebook fully rolled out their hashtag implementation. We decided to dig into the data to see the impact of hashtags on the news feed. To our surprise, the answer was…nothing. Wow, we didn’t expect to find that!

The assumption is that if people see an object in the news feed with a hashtag they’re interested in, they will click the hashtag to discover more interesting content related to the particular hashtag. Brands that talk about trending hashtags may receive additional exposure due to other Pages using hashtags because their Page may show up unexpectedly. Continue reading