Facebook’s news feed algorithm is an ever-changing entity. Visit the site that tracks these changes, and you will see an enormous number of tweaks happening every month.
In early 2012, Facebook made significant changes to the news feed algorithm. One such change led to a plummeting organic reach for Facebook pages.
When businesses started noticing this decline in organic reach, Facebook addressed it with the following statement:
“Based on a recent quality check, we made an adjustment to the news feed algorithm to respond to the negative feedback signals of spam and people hiding posts. Current signals show the adjustment has been successful. The median reach of Facebook pages has remained the same while spam complaints and stories hidden by users have fallen significantly.”
As years passed, businesses and brands kept on noticing a decreasing trend line for their organic reach. In 2014, Social@Ogilvy published a report on the state of organic reach and how it is approaching zero. Their analysis found organic reach for pages — with more than 500k fans — had dropped to as low as 2%. For pages with less than 500k fans, organic reach dropped to 6%.
Last year, Marketing Land reported Facebook’s organic reach was down by 52% for publishers.
“In December of 2016, we had only 8 posts with 10,000 reach or less. In January of 2017, that had grown to 80. In February, 159. And in March, a ridiculous 242 posts were seen by fewer than 10,000 people. And while late 2016 saw record lows in that lowest quartile, that 242 is far above any prior month in our dataset. And we were seeing a steady decrease in that 25,001 to 50,000 quartile. That had gone from 248 in January 2016 to 141 in March 2017.”
Following this came another big update. In January this year, Facebook made changes to the news feed algorithm to show the most relevant stories to its users. As a result, here’s what the current Facebook organic reach looks like by Industry:
According to Facebook, the recent news feed change aims to rank updates better than before by introducing two new factors:
Incorporating new signals to better identify and rank authentic content
A new way to predict and rank in real-time when posts might be more relevant to you
To identify which stories make it into your news feed, Facebook has outlined thousands of signals. The most important ones to consider are:
- Interest: Are your fans interested in your update?
- Post: How are people responding to your post?
- Creator: How have you been performing? Do fans love your updates? Do they engage with it?
- Type: What type of post is it? A video, link, photo, or text?
- Recency: How recent (and relevant) is your update?
At its core, Facebook’s aim is to offer relevant, tailored content in the news feed.
“For example, if your favorite soccer team just won a game, we might show you posts about the game higher up in News Feed because people are talking about it more broadly on Facebook.” — Source: Facebook Newsroom
But even if you create authentic, relevant content, why is organic reach declining? And what does it mean for your Facebook page?
The Reason Behind A Declining Organic Reach
Currently, there are more than 65 million Facebook pages posting an average of two posts per day. When a user logs in to Facebook, their news feed can potentially have more than 1,500 stories at a time. Users with more connections can have as many as 15,000 stories in their news feed at a time. Clearly, there’s more content being published at any particular time than people can absorb.
The rise in smartphone usage has only contributed to the content explosion. Currently, more than 1.74 Billion people are active on Facebook every month. Moreover, the number of pages an average user likes on Facebook has increased significantly over the years.
As a result, there’s a surge in the supply of content, but less real estate available to share content.
Hence, to gain exposure in news feeds organically, brands and businesses compete on more than 100,000 signals identified by Facebook.
What Does This Mean For Your Facebook Page?
As content generation speeds up, organic reach is soon going to be a thing of the past. Does this mean your current page fans will become irrelevant to your business? No.
As noted by Brian Boland, Facebook’s VP of Publisher Solutions, fans of your Facebook page have a lot of value because they can make your ads more effective, efficient and provide credibility for your business. Check out Brian’s article to learn more.
So, what can you do to maintain your organic reach?
1. Use Facebook Live
Live video streaming is alive and kicking. A quick look at the interest in Facebook live over the past two years shows just how much people appreciate video streaming.
Facebook placed a big bet on live streaming. According to WSJ, Facebook signed around 140 contracts with video creators — paying them a total more than $50 Million.
In its initial days, the social media giant sent push notifications to large numbers of users whenever a page started a Facebook live post. Since its launch, Facebook live videos have had a greater organic reach compared to other forms of content.
While the the number of push notifications have gone down over time, Facebook is still pushing live videos in the news feed.
To succeed with live video, Facebook suggests the following best practices and tips for an effective Facebook live post:
Tell people ahead of time when you’re going to broadcast
Go live when you have a strong connection
Write a compelling description before going live
Ask your viewers to follow you and receive notifications when you go live
Say hello to commenters by name and respond to their comments
Broadcast for longer periods of time to reach more people
Be creative and go live often
Recommended reading: How To Use Facebook Live: A Complete Guide by Hubspot
2. Put a Greater Focus on Facebook Videos
If there’s one type of content that’s on every marketer’s radar, it is videos. Native Facebook videos have a greater organic reach when compared to other forms of content.
More than 100 Million hours of videos are watched on Facebook every day, and an upwards of 73% marketers plan on increasing their usage of video. Check out the links below for tips on how to create engaging video content.
- A Video Marketing Guide On Creating Epic Content for Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter, and More
- 14 Video Tools for Social Media Marketers
3. Quality over Quantity
How many posts should you do in a day? It depends on your industry and how your audience engages with your content. Publishers, for example, post anywhere between 10 and 40 posts per day because they’re constantly updating their followers with editorial content. But, your business shouldn’t necessarily do the same.
Your Facebook page’s organic reach will be healthier if your content is contextual and relevant to your audience. If you publish 7 posts a day that don’t receive any engagement, you will hurt your organic reach overtime.
According to Locowise, pages that posted two or more posts a day got less than 1% negative feedback out of all the people who interacted with them. They also found pages that post one to four times a week achieve higher engagement rates.
4. Pay Attention to Trending Topics
Social media monitoring is an essential part of a lead generating social media strategy.
What is your audience talking about? What are they engaging with?
Knowing answers to these questions and preparing content around them will help your audience connect and engage with you better.
Keep a close watch on Facebook’s trending topics. Use services such as Buzzsumo to identify which content piece under your chosen topic is getting more shares.
5. Avoid Clickbait
While this won’t necessarily increase your organic reach, it will help prevent it from declining.
If you create posts that explicitly ask users to like, comment, or share, Facebook will identify the content as spammy.
Here are some key clickbait best practices from Facebook:
Share headlines that inform
Post headlines that set appropriate expectations
When curating content as a Page, share links that have clear, accurate headlines
Overly promotional posts, spammy links, fake news, clickbait tactics, like-bait tactics, etc. get identified as spam and hurt your organic reach in the long run.
Collaboration with other businesses is key to succeeding on a platform that’s cluttered with updates. By collaborating with other companies, you get access to their fans as well as an opportunity to engage with them.
For example, Refinery29 often links back and shares articles from Huffington Post because they speak to a similar audience.
Collaboration not only sets you up for a wider reach but provides your audience greater visibility into your brand and helps you establish your business as a thought-leader in your industry.
7. Feature Your Fans And Make Use Of User Generated Content
On social media, being overly promotional is not the best idea. People want to consume content that offers them something in return. If you’re only promoting your products and services, you will fall short of establishing a connection and trust with your audience.
Try creating content your fans can interact with such as giveaways with a dedicated hashtag or quizzes. You can also acknowledge your fans by featuring a testimonial from them or asking them for feedback about your business. The goal is to make your fans feel valued and look forward to your updates.
As the number of daily active users increases, Facebook’s organic reach is set to decline further. However, by using relevant, contextual, and timely content along with emerging content types, you can drive engagement and results for your business.
This story was originally published on Hearst Bay Area