Have you noticed that your Facebook page's reach has been getting worse and worse lately? If so, you're not alone. Marketers running Facebook pages for small businesses and big brands have all noticed the decline. In this post, we're going to look at how organic reach for pages has changed over the last couple of years, and how you can give yours a boost.
The Declining Trend of Organic Reach for Pages
In April 2012, Facebook ended speculation about the lowered reach of Facebook page's updates to their fans. They flat out admitted that pages organically reached an average of 16% of their fans, and that if pages wanted to reach more, they would need to sponsor their updates. Since then, the organic reach of Facebook pages has only continued to go downhill. AdAge even obtained a sales deck from Facebook in December 2013 that said pages' reach would continue to decrease to make sure users (people, not businesses) have a meaningful experience on their site.
Putting aside generalized statistics, here is a quick look at the insights of a page with 4,400 fans.
Four out of five of the most recent posts that were not boosted (put through Facebook advertising for promotion) only reached, at max, 12% of fans organically. The one post that had great traction, which resulted in five shares, nine likes, and two comments, only reached 32% of fans.
Specific Update Types Buried by Facebook
In June 2012, Dan Zarrella released a study showing the best status update types to post on your page in order to receive the most likes, comments, and shares. At the time, photos received the most likes and shares, while text-based updates received the most comments. Updates where you shared a link received the least likes, comments, and shares of all update types.
This, however, is no longer the case.
In additional to just lowering the overall organic reach for pages, Facebook has been altering their algorithm to ensure that certain types of status updates will no longer get the traction they once received. For pages, these include the following:
1. Photo Updates – In December 2013, Facebook said they would start showing more articles and fewer photos in the newsfeed. This is likely in response to pages that have been posting "photo memes" to score viral sharing.
2. Text Status Updates – In January 2014, Facebook announced a Newsfeed algorithm change that will show less text-based status updates from pages, but more from personal profiles. This is likely in response to the pages that have been using random quotes and questions to build fan engagement.
In a nutshell, when Facebook lowered the reach of link shares, marketers switched to photos (usually shared with a link in the description) and text-based updates for a boost in page engagement. Now, those types of updates are getting buried as well.
How to Reach Your Fans Organically
You've likely read that all you have to do is post great updates, and the engagement will follow. You’ve also likely tried this strategy, only to find a still dismal organic reach percentage for your updates.
There are a few tricks you can try to boost your Facebook page’s organic reach. These include the following.
1. Post status updates that encourage discussion.
Anytime you post a link, photo, or video to your wall, include a question with it that will prompt your fans to start adding comments.
2. Use calls to action on select posts such as "Like if you agree" or "Share this if you love puppies."
3. Encourage fans to check the Get Notifications option on your page.
This will send them a notification each time you post a new update to your page.
4. Share links to your Facebook updates on other social networks, such as Twitter and LinkedIn.
This will encourage more people to like your page and participate in discussions upon it.
5. Embed posts from your Facebook page on your website or blog.
This will also encourage more people to like your page and participate in discussions upon it.
6. If you have business contacts on your personal profile, share your page's status update on your personal profile to increase visibility and engagement.
While these tips can help, they are not going to always get you the reach you desire. Since Facebook launched their advertising platform, their goal has been to get more advertisers to use it. As mentioned earlier in the post, they’ve even admitted that your only hope is to sponsor (pay for / boost / promote) your updates. This means that you will have to ultimately start paying to get your message to your fans.
How to Reach Your Fans Through Advertising
Whenever you post a new update on your wall, you’ll see the convenient Boost Post option beneath them, and at the top of your admin panel.
You can use this to promote your updates to reach more people, but your targeting options will be limited to the following.
Facebook's main advertising platform will allow you to get super specific with your targeting. You can have your update shown to people with an upcoming birthday, who are expecting a baby, who have an iPhone, who are planning to travel to Italy, who work at a particular company, and so on.
As you define your audience, your potential reach will drop. But on the other hand, you'll spend less money on the ad and get the exact visitors you want. It's time to think targeted potential leads and customers for your business.
Using the main advertising platform, you can also create custom audiences. For example, if you want your latest status update to reach your page's Facebook fans and your mailing list subscribers, you can upload a list of your mailing list subscriber's email addresses and have Facebook show your promoted post to those people as well. This can also help you reach a more targeted audience that is likely to convert into revenue for your business.
As Facebook continues to lower the organic reach of pages, you'll have two options to reach your fans. One, you can experiment with updates that will generate the most engagement possible with your audience and ways to promote those updates to your audience beyond your page. Two, you will have to dive into Facebook advertising to promote your posts.
On the upside, as you build engagement through promoting your content with Facebook advertising, you'll be able to reach even more fans organically. This means that you won't have to promote every post to get visibility – just the ones that are most valuable to your business.
How have you dealt with the lowered organic reach of your Facebook page lately? Please share in the comments.