Study: Pages that showed organic reach growth in December also used advertising


After several admins reported a large decrease in organic reach for many Facebook pages, a new study of 1,000 pages by social media analytics tool Locowise shows that on the average, organic reach went up by 6 percent in December (compared to the previous month). But in terms of gross numbers, only 38 percent of the pages reported an increase in organic reach in December.

Locowise founder Ian Mullane said the pages were randomly selected, with fanbases as small as 257 fans and the largest at more than 50 million fans, and including the verticals of consumer packaged goods, car manufacturers, sports and music personalities, B2B, B2C and small businesses.

However, the use of paid reach rose in December, with 25 percent more pages choosing to advertise posts. Of the 1,000 pages tracked, 41 percent used some kind of paid media in December. Viral reach was down 3 percent in December. 53 percent of the pages showing increases in organic reach also boosted some posts.

Mullane discussed these findings with Inside Facebook:

I don’t think this study says anything different, as whilst the headline is 38% saw an increase, 62% therefore saw a decrease. I do think we can all snap shot sometimes, in reaction to the flurry of studies done after any announced EdgeRank algorithm change and then make a judgement around that particular short period. In my experience, a detailed monthly reach analysis is performed by a small minority and to this level of detail rarely at all.

I note that more than half that did see an increase were participating in paid activity as well. I don’t think it is a huge jump to suggest that these are likely probably the ones with dedicated social resources to manage performance. The additional paid element is likely demanding a close analysis of performance and that in turn is building a better understanding of what content is best for the page which carries through to all posting.

Locowise’ findings shows that links were 22 percent more viral in December, while photos and text status updates were down 8 percent and 7 percent respectively. Video was used increasingly in December — a 70 percent uptick, though only 12 percent of the pages monitored used video that month. Photos were used by 93 percent of the pages — a 2 percent decrease from November.

The number of posts was also up in December by 5 percent.  Average daily activity increased rom 1.29 posts per day to 1.32. 64 percent of all posts were photos, 22 percent were links and 13 percent were status updates.

The average growth in December, in terms of fans, was 9 percent. Average gain to loss, where fan gain is divided by fan loss, was 13:1 — meaning 13 fans were gained for every 1 lost in December, up from 11:1 in November.

Mullane believes that the decrease in organic reach could continue:

Facebook does face an continuing battle to keep the feed full of quality, relevant content and I believe we will continue to see organic reach decreasing. Anyone remotely serious about utilising Facebook as a marketing channel will need to accept that paid (post boosting in this case) will become the norm. That in turn may have us all more conscious of our performance data and foster a more proactive approach to the analytics rather than just utilising the data for retrospective reporting.

Creative aside, (there will never not be a time when good creative content isn’t a factor) we can all benefit from a proactive approach to the extensive dataset available to us. Whether it be understanding which content type is currently getting the best reach or engagement, to optimising our posts to particular times of the day for maximum the outcome.

Top image courtesy of Shutterstock.

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