Facebook Organic Reach Declining, What Businesses Need to Know

by Blair Evan Ball on November 13, 2017

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Business owners have noticed a decline in their organic reach have you?

Were you aware that this is Facebook’s intended goal?

Organic reach on Facebook is so in the past. Most unfortunate, but true. Facebook has long been a ‘pay-to-play’ platform for those businesses serious about optimizing all that the platform offers. Organic reach has been steadily declining from well over 100% on some pages (back pre-2012), to an average of 1-6% starting in 2014.

More Money = More Reach

As Facebook has evolved into more of a paid marketing platform than an organic one, Page managers are realizing they’re now expected to pay for ads yet again to reach those newly acquired Fans, even if those Fans have seemingly elected to see a brand’s posts by liking their Page in the first place.

Any business page today that achieves more than the average organic reach is an outlier.  Pages with consistently higher than average organic reach are likely due to many factors, such as:

  • the perfect mix of highly relevant content,
  • the right frequency of posting,
  • the best mix of content types, e.g. more video and Live broadcasts,
  • responding and connecting with fans,
  • …all of which can result in a highly engaged audience, many with notifications enabled.

There are also pages that have somehow cracked the code of crazy viral organic reach, for example, with content like recipe videos. Again, these are all the outliers.

Facebook may be pulling off one of the most lucrative grifts of all time; first, they convinced brands they needed to purchase all their Fans and Likes — even though everyone knows you can’t buy love; then, Facebook continues to charge those same brands money to speak to the Fans they just bought.”

SOCIAL MEDIA IS RENTED LAND

VIDEO IS DOMINATING FACEBOOK ENGAGEMENT

The average video post in April 2017 reached 12.05% of the total page audience, just ahead of photos at 11.63%, links at 7.81%, and status updates at only 4.56%. Videos also had the highest levels of engagement as we can see below.

Video is dominating Facebook

HEADLINES ARE ALL ABOUT THE PROMISE

BuzzSumo did a major study looking at 100m headlines this year. The top performing trigrams or three word phrases on Facebook are a surprise. The top headline phrases were as follows:

Top Headline Phrases

WHAT CAN BUSINESSES DO NOW TO OPTIMIZE FACEBOOK?

Whether you’re seeing organic reach in the average of 1-6%, or you want to plan now for zero reach, or even if you’re an outlier with above-average organic reach, this section is for you. This is hitting the smaller brands who do not have the advertising budget to compete with bigger brands.

Be more selective about what you post.

1. Focus on video

First, with Facebook’s big push to have users consume more and more video, marketers really ought to put video at the top of their content marketing plans in 2018.

With the recent launch of Facebook’s new Watch Platform—giving users the ability to consume television-quality shows ad nauseam on desktop, mobile and television—the company seems determined to end up becoming a merger of your first screen (TV) and second screen (phone, laptop, tablet). Not to mention tapping into the epic television advertising industry.

2. Broadcast with Live video more

Facebook does appear to be rewarding business and personal users who use the Live video broadcasting feature regularly.

Although, like most of my colleagues, I’m seeing a decline in organic reach on Live videos, they still get more reach than any other type of post.

3. Create short form ‘bitsize’ videos

Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook chief operating officer recommends creating ‘snackable’ video content. That is, between 6-15 seconds. This is the ideal length to be used as ad breaks. On the Q2 2017 earnings call, Sandberg cited an example split test by juice company Tropicana where they ran 6 second and 15 second video ads, and the shorter one fared best.

4. Add captions to your videos

With most users on Facebook leaving silent autoplay as the default, 85 percent of videos are watched with sound off. Have you ever watched an entire video in your own News Feed with no sound – just enjoying the story by reading the captions/lower thirds? I know I have.

People are often in environments where it’s preferable to have sound off. Although, Facebook has been running tests for autoplay sound on. Hm.

Facebook does included an automated captions generation tool for uploaded video and completed Live video broadcasts. A good transcription service is, Rev.com.

5. Create square videos

According to research from Animoto and Buffer, square videos perform better on Facebook, resulting in 28% more views, more likes, and shares, while leading to a 67% greater view-completion rate.

Plus, square video (1:1) takes up 78% more real estate in a person’s mobile newsfeed than does landscape video (16:9).

START TREATING FACEBOOK LIKE A PAID AD PLATFORM

If you’re going to pay-to-play, get your targeting right. Once you’ve built an audience of relevant fans, focus on advertising the content assets you’ve created — blog posts, ebooks, etc. — and use ads to amplify them to targeted users.

Remember: It’s likely only a matter of time before organic reach hits zero, so you might as well hone your paid strategy now, which brings me to one final recommendation …

If you do advertise, go beyond the basics.

Facebook’s targeting capabilities have gotten considerably better over the past few years. You can now pay to reach your ideal persona based on demographics, interests, web behavior, and more.

Additionally, there are a bunch of tools and features that can help you maximize the effectiveness of your campaigns, including:

To learn more about how you can improve your Facebook Page’s reach, check out my friends over at Hubspot for their free guide: How to Attract Customers with Facebook.

About Blair

 5 Golden Rules for Sharing on Social Media

Blair Evan Ball is a Social Media Coach and founder of Prepare1, a company that works with businesses, individuals and non-profits. He is a former executive with a Fortune 50 company, and his national division did $1Billion+ in sales annually.

Blair has written three e-books: Facebook for Business Made Easy, Facebook Pages for Business Made Easy, and WordPress Blog Setup Made Easy.

Blair also educates, trains entrepreneurs and business professionals how to amplify their brand, increase revenues, and raise more funds.

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