Why Facebook Pages Are Seeing Lower Organic Reach, And What They Can Do About It

By David Cohen 

HoldingHeadDownwardChart650Facebook’s announcement last month that changes to its News Feed algorithm will result in lower organic reach for posts by pages has not sat well with page administrators, who have seen their posts go from reaching about 16 percent of users who like their pages to 2 percent to 3 percent. A blog post Monday from Deanna Sandmann of software-as-a-service local marketing platform SIM Partners will not ease page admins’ pain, but it may provide some clarity, as well as helpful suggestions.

Sandmann explained how the social network’s News Feed algorithm works:

Facebook’s algorithm uses a number of factors to establish which posts should be shown to users. Previously called EdgeRank, the algorithm now has more than 1,000 contributing factors, but it still focuses on three main influences: affinity, weight, and Time.

Affinity is defined by a user’s relationship with the person or page that created the specific Facebook object — essentially how much the user interacts with that person or page.

Weight is determined by the object type — for instance whether it is a photo, video, or link.

Time, the last major factor, takes into account how recent the action occurred, which, in Facebook vernacular, is called time decay.

There are a multitude of other factors that Facebook uses, such as how many of the user’s friends have interacted with the post or object, how popular the post is overall on Facebook, etc.

Despite the drop in organic reach, Sandmann stressed that the news is not all bad for page admins, as the users who do see their posts are the ones who are most likely to engage with them:

This news may sound bleak, but don’t throw the towel in just yet. Despite the drop in organic reach many pages are seeing an increase in engagement on their pages and page posts. How can that be? Facebook’s algorithm is getting smarter. The small percentage of fans who do see a page’s posts are the fans who are most likely to engage with the post.

The update is essentially a double-edged sword: Although pages are reaching a smaller audience, they are reaching a more engaged audience and building a core group of engaged users.

Finally, Sandmann offered three tips on how page admins can boost their pages’ organic visibility and engagement:

First, create amazing content. Think about your audience and what they will find value in. Create content that entertains, informs, or otherwise engages your audience. This is a critical piece in boosting engagement and visibility on Facebook.

Second, advertising on Facebook will be necessary to boost visibility on posts, attract more fans, and increase engagement. Clearly, Facebook is using these updates to also push page admins into buying Facebook advertising to increase page visibility. This will be a pain point for many marketers, but we can no longer think of Facebook as a free advertising platform.

Advertising on Facebook, however, does have many merits, and is well worth the small cost. With more than 1.19 billion monthly active users and a sophisticated set of targeting options, you can place your best posts in front of a very precise audience. Done correctly, advertising can greatly improve visibility and engagement. Check out our latest Webinar for tips on Facebook advertising.

Third, focus on building a core group of supporters. You shouldn’t focus on building up your page fans to have a high number of fans; be strategic in building a fan base. Fans who are not engaging with your page do not benefit your marketing goals or your page’s performance, and they may hurt page visibility.

Stay away from running like contests or giveaways that are not directly related to your business. You may gain a lot of fans, but they are there for the wrong reasons. Think of your page as a community, and target users who will find value in what your page has to offer and contribute to the community. The more engaged your audience is, the more visibility you will gain.

Page admins: Have you experienced drops in organic reach and, if so, how severe have they been?

Images courtesy of Shutterstock.