Study Finds Organic Facebook Reach Down 42%

A new report from social media analytics company Social Flow shows that organic reach on Facebook has dropped 42% since January. Many businesses that have traditionally relied on reaching customers organically through Facebook are now having to rethink their strategy. The idea that Facebook reach is decreasing is not news to most of us working in the social media field. However, it is surprising just how drastic the decrease is. Social Flow came to this conclusion after aggregating the reach of more than 3,000 Facebook pages, showing that this is a change on the Facebook side, not just the issue with the audience of a few pages. We’ve been seeing Facebook push users to boost posts for a while now but it is clear that if pages want to appear in the newsfeed of their fans they are not going to get many impressions for free.

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Working in the analytics field we have witnessed the drop in reach first hand with several of our clients. This can be confusing at times for clients who want to know how they can fix the drop. They want to know why this is happening if they haven’t changed their content strategy. It is hard for people to wrap their head around the black box that is the ever-changing Facebook algorithm.

Another issue that clients often ask us about is the effect of reach on engagement rate. Since engagement rate is calculated by engagements (likes, comments, shares, and clicks) divided by reach, a lower reach can result in a deceptively high engagement rate, as shown in the graphic below. This can make it difficult to benchmark against previous months with a higher reach. At first glance the 10% engagement rate appears to be the top performer, but the post with 2% engagement actually reached far more people and engaged more users.

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So how do we manage to reach our customers if organic reach is going to continue to drop? It doesn’t look like Facebook is going to be increasing organic reach anytime soon which means it is time to start boosting. The good news is that boosting posts to a niche audience can be relatively inexpensive and effective. Let’s say we want to reach a specific group, for example, female electric guitar players below 30 who live in Austin, TX. Facebooks Audiences allows us to build out that specific group of 2,900 people and then save it to serve paid content with precise messaging. This allows us to not waste any money on Facebook users who do not fit into this group.

Organic posts can be a bit of a guessing game as to whether the posts will reach the right audience, but with boosting we know we are reaching the target market. Although some people are reluctant to make room in their marketing budgets for paid posts Facebook is not so subtly making it known that the days of free, organic impressions are coming to an end.