UH, OH! Facebook Pages Only Reach 17% Of Fans

To optimize for GraphRank and get your posts to show up in your fans' news feed, you have to get more likes and comments every time you post.

Hopefully by now, we don’t have to tell you that you aren’t visible to all your page fans when you post, and most of fans never go back to a Facebook page after they’ve initially liked it.

To optimize for GraphRank and get your posts to show up in your fans’ news feed, you have to get more likes and comments every time you post.

Unfortunately, not only are many pages still doing a bad job with this, it also looks like Facebook has made it tougher for page administrators since all the changes in late 2011.

Let’s discuss that data here, what it means, and how to address it strategically.

I had begun to hear squawks from page admins that their reach per post looked low to them. My first thought was that this might be the result of previously only seeing impressions per post rather than reach — reach is naturally going to be lower than impressions. Why is reach naturally less than impressions?

Impressions = Reach * Frequency

An impression is a post view. Reach is the number of unique fans who saw a post. Frequency is the average number of times a fan saw a post. Facebook doesn’t give us the frequency number for posts (but it does for ads in the advertising interface).

The Average Performance of 4,000 Facebook Pages

I teamed up with the folks from EdgeRank Checker to examine what was going on, and the findings were disturbing.

First, we found that (in a review of 4,000 Facebook pages) the average page post is only reaching 17 percent of the page’s fans.

Your mileage may vary, so do your own calculations — look at your page insights, average the reach of the last ten posts, and divide that by your total fan count.

For the average page, that’s just one out of six fans you’re reaching. Five out of six of your fans aren’t seeing you at all.

Your page is worth 83 percent less than what you think if, like many business owners or brand executives, you’re only looking at your total fan base count.

And whatever you spent to acquire your average fan, multiply that by six, because five out of six of your fans aren’t seeing your posts.

That means that even if you get 10 cent fans, they’re actually costing you 60 cents each.

The Trend Shows Decreased Impressions Per Fan

This by itself isn’t news, because there have been a number of posts across the web that talked about problems of post visibility to fans (estimating a reach per fan of anywhere from three percent to 16 percent).

But the more disturbing finding is an overall decrease in impressions per post since June 2011.

In June 2011, on average, page posts received .99 impressions per fan. That number decreased to 0.41 for December 2011. That’s a 58 percent decrease in impressions.

EdgeRank Changed

Knowing what we said earlier about impressions (they equal people reached multiplied by frequency of views), that means we’re either reaching fewer people, or people are seeing are posts fewer times on average.

We know that the number of people and pages posting and number of total posts increased in that time, but I doubt it doubled, which it would have had to, if EdgeRank had not changed at all.

According to Compete.com, unique visits to Facebook increased only 18 percent from June to December.

There was some kind of change in how EdgeRank displays posts. What with all the changes involving the ticker and new notifications about people reading articles and listening to music services like Spotify and Rdio, this seems likely.

The most favorable possible change would have been that people who had already seen the post and liked or comment would stop seeing it — these may have been wasted additional impressions. But we don’t know if that’s what happened or not.

4 Tips For Solving Facebook Post Visibility Problems

These findings just underline again the advice I’ve written many times that:

  • You must try to get more likes and comments with every one of your posts. Every post that doesn’t get responses lowers the value of your page. Make sure everyone who posts to your page knows this and is capable of doing the next bullet item.
  • To get more likes and comments, you need to tell people why they should like and comment on your posts.
  • If you aren’t reaching enough fans, you might need to use Facebook advertising either to get more, or to show your page posts as ads. Then do a better job of engaging so you can keep reaching a higher percentage of these new fans.
  • If you don’t want to do a good job of engaging fans on your Facebook page, the lower visibility may increase your cost per customer to the point that you may lose your profit potential. In this case, you should just use Facebook advertising to send people to your website instead — fewer steps, lower cost per customer.

Have you tried any of these suggestions yet? Let us know how these pointers work out for you by posting in the comments section.

Brian Carter is the author of The Like Economy: How Businesses Make Money On Facebook and Facebook Marketing: Leveraging Facebook’s Features For Your Marketing Campaigns.