It’s no secret that Facebook has increasingly shifted toward a pay-to-play model where brands are concerned. When Facebook first introduced company Pages, they showed every post to every Follower. Times have changed. Facebook started limiting which users saw which Page’s posts around 2014, after the company went public, and the trend increases with each passing year, as reflected in our own research into organic Reach of SMBs.
It might seem easiest to put all of your social media efforts toward paid advertising. Paid Reach is much more predictable and within your control, since you essentially tell Facebook who to show your content to, and you agree to pay for it. There’s still a lot of value in pursuing organic Reach, however.
Understanding organic Reach
First, it’s important to understand what organic Reach means. Reach is simply the number of people who see your post within a given timeframe. You can look at the analytics by day, by week, or by 28 day period. For organic Reach, you count only the content that you have not paid to promote.
The Facebook algorithm shows a new post to a subset of your Followers within the first five minutes after you post it. It then makes an assessment based on initial engagement. If a lot of users comment, share, or like the post right away, the algorithm considers the content interesting and shows it more widely.
You can express Reach as a percentage of your total Followers. Brands can typically expect anywhere from 2% to 15% of their Follower base to see a given post. This varies, in part, based on the total number of Followers. Facebook’s analytics show you the Reach for each post, as well as the Reach for your Page overall. Some posts will perform really well, while others not at all. You can ride out large discrepancies if your Page reach remains strong.
As for what qualifies as “good” Reach, you decide. By tracking your performance over time, you can set KPIs and ROI goals each month, quarter, or year.
The value of your Followers
If people have followed your Page, they’ve expressed awareness of, and interest in your brand. They may have actively searched for your Page, clicked through from your website, or saw your Page as a suggestion based on their other interests.
They’re already into your sales funnel, and you don’t want to waste that effort. Facebook shows organic content to the users its algorithm considers most likely to be interested — this is a valuable audience. Even a small number of motivated buyers can provide a solid social ROI.
Keep in mind that reach builds upon itself — more Reach leads to more Engagement and more Engagement makes Facebook show more of your content. For this reason, you need to post regularly. More importantly, post quality content that gives your valued Followers what they’re looking for.
Build a community
People who buy and use your brand undoubtedly have opinions about it. Facebook is a perfect platform for them to share their ideas, review your products, and connect with like minded users. When one of your posts generates a lot of comments or shares, it increases the opportunity for your customers to interact not only with your brand, but with each other.
You can add value and build trust by taking part in the conversation. Hopefully, the engagement is primarily positive. When negative comments or reviews do arise, be prepared to field concerns and attempt to win over — or win back — any unhappy customers.
Get to know your followers
Pursuing organic Reach is only one way to attract new Followers. These new Followers might be considered the most valuable, as we discussed above. You can research these Followers to learn about your target audience.
Your Facebook audience data offers a wealth of quantitative and qualitative data, which you can use to create a persona-based marketing strategy. Facebook and other channels offer a few built-in analytics insights that include demographics such as age range, gender, and location. Many third-party social media scheduling and distribution programs provide more extensive analytics. If you use one of these tools, take advantage of all its features, including its data insights. Some let you analyze competitor data as well as your own. This information can help you see what kinds of customers look for similar or related products from other brands. The more you know about your audience, the more effectively you can tailor your marketing efforts.
Relationship between paid and organic
Your organic social media strategy, while important, need not exist independent of your paid strategy. In fact, by integrating these two elements of your marketing strategy, you can amplify them both.
Promoting posts or running paid ads drives additional organic Reach. After you run ads, Facebook seems to give a slight advantage to organic posts from your page for a few days. Plus, paid posts are simply a way to reach more users who fit the criteria you want, and who may turn into Followers. It’s also possible for the same user to see your organic posts as well as your paid posts, increasing their exposure to your brand and reinforcing your message.
Tips for increasing organic Reach
There are many ways to increase your organic Reach, enough to write another whole post, but these are some quick tips:
- Post consistently
- Post high quality, relevant content
- Include video, which the Facebook algorithm favors
- Create posts that don’t link out, taking the user off of Facebook
- Post at the right time to gain a lot of Engagement in that first, five minute window
In general, follow best practices for Engagement since greater engagement encourages Facebook to show your content to more of your Followers.
Leverage your retailers’ Facebook Pages
Perhaps the most efficient ways to increase your organic Reach is to get your content in front of your retailers’ Fans and Followers. Your content can go much further when you syndicate it through them. ThumbStopper can help you reach local audiences organically, through your retailers’ Facebook and Instagram feeds.
Here’s a secret not all brands know. Your retailers probably have much greater organic Reach than you do. Facebook gives greater reach to Pages with smaller Follower counts. According to our research:
- Pages with 5,000 or more Fans are are reaching less than 6% of them
- Meanwhile, only those with fewer than 500 Fans are exceeding 15% Reach
If you have a lot of retailers, each reaching 15% or more of a small Fan base, they can potentially reach more users than your 2-6% of a large Fan base.
Use our Reach calculator to see how much you could increase the audience base by using ThumbStopper.