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.