For almost 5 years now, companies doing business on Facebook are finding it increasingly difficult to reach their audience through unpaid, organic reach. Organic reach refers to how many people can be reached for free by posting on your page.

There are rules and advertising policies that affect ad distribution that can be applied to posts on your page as well. If your Facebook page posts satisfy those rules then you’ll have a normal organic distribution of them on people’s news feed. To find out more about how Facebook distributes an ad please read What does affect advertising distribution?

Even when all the rules mentioned in the article are satisfied the issue of global declining organic reach will not disappear.

Why is the global organic reach declining?

Reason number one: There is more content created than Facebook users are able to consume. There are, on average, 1500 posts that could appear on user’s news feed every time they log onto Facebook. For people with 1000+ friends and lots of page likes there are 15000 potential posts to display on their news feed.

The rate at which the content is created is still increasing. More and more content creation and automation tools are gaining adoption that make a lot easier and faster to post stories. You can check out a curated list of 11 powerful content management tools.

On top of that, the friction to post on Facebook is tremendously decreased thanks to smartphones, with a couple of swipes the user can share content with their friends, which resulted in higher volume of content.

Besides software tools and devices that help increase content volume, each new page like increases the news feed competition even further since more content becomes available to be placed in the news feed. According to an article from TechCrunch page likes increased by 50% while organic reach decreased by the same amount between February 2012 and December 2013.

As a result, there is a big amount of content and limited space in the user’s news feed. It’s becoming harder for stories to gain exposure.

Reason number two is how news feed works. Since there are on average 1500 potential posts on the user’s news feed Facebook displays 300 posts that are most relevant to the user. Facebook chooses these most relevant stories based on thousand of factors relative to the user.

Facebook is constantly improving the news feed and it becomes more engaging even when the amount of content continues to grow. Find more details about how Facebook chooses what to show.

Some of you might ask why not to show all stories at once? If you display them then time becomes an issue. Users have limited time to consume posts and if during that period the most relevant content is not shown to them then it becomes a bad user experience.

Link post example

There are small details that are constantly introduced by Facebook over time but have a great impact on content and story reach. For example: Facebook’s initial link posts were small with a small square image on the left. Now, link posts have the exact size of photo posts. They are big with a full-sized Open Graph image. A big part of users switched from photo posts to link posts since they have the potential to bring traffic to a website. There’s a downside of this change. Link posts became a lot more engaging for Facebook users but they are double in size now and they occupy twice the space on the news feed as they used before, which means the chance of the post to get exposure on the news feed is decreased two fold. The organic reach of link posts is cut down while the engagement of it is increased.

If reach is declining then what is the value of Facebook page fans?

  • Fans make your ads more effective. When ads have more social context, or in other words when a person sees their friends engaging with your business, your ads have 50% higher recall rate and 35% higher sales lift. Learn why post engagement ads are the best type of ad.
  • Fans make your ads more efficient. Ads with higher engagement rate lead to better prices.
  • Fans can be a good indicator of your prospective customers.
  • Fans increases your business credibility.

Your Facebook fans represent only a fraction of your potential customers so use them to more effectively reach your business goals.

How should you use Facebook for business?

Content is still important. You should write content that teaches people something, entertains them, makes them think, or in some other way adds value to their lives can still reach people in the news feed. But as a business you shouldn’t put all your bets on organic reach because it’s unpredictable and you shouldn’t expect your posts to go viral. A business should focus on business objective like driving in-store sales, drive traffic to a website etc.

Facebook is far more effective when businesses use paid media to help meet their business objectives. Similar to how TV works, or radio, search, or newspapers, and other marketing platforms your business won’t appear on the first page unless you pay. Paid media on Facebook allows businesses to reach broader audiences with much greater accuracy and predictability than organic content.

Facebook has suggested multiple times that we should expect and plan for a day with zero organic traffic.

Tags: Advertising Facebook Instagram Content Post Engagement