Organic Reach Renaissance?

We’re working hard for you. Yes, we’re working hard in our jammies.

Plenty of Facebook-loving folks, including the majority of our clients, are none too happy about the platform’s organic reach decline over the past year and a half. (Some of you might be asking yourself here, “Umm and what might be organic reach decline? Does it have to do with the GMO labeling debate in Oregon?” Not quite. Organic reach is the number of Facebook page fans who see your posts without promotion. In other words, the number of your fans who see each piece of page content without you throwing any advertising dollars behind it.) As we’ve detailed before, there are various theories as to why Facebook has allowed for, some say encouraged, organic reach decline. That aside, most Facebook experts agree on this core reason for the decline:

Facebook’s lasting goal is to make the News Feed the most valuable place to find information on the web. And Facebook wants that valuable experience to be uniquely personal for over 1 billion people. 

Herein lies the issue: to put it mildly, Facebook’s goal is really freakin’ ambitious. As Facebook users connect with more pages and more friends, it becomes increasingly challenging to show that individual high-quality, relevant content from all of their followed pages and friends. There is just only so much room in the News Feed. Earlier this summer, Facebook hinted at this new reality:

On average, there are 1,500 stories that could appear in every person’s News Feed each time they log into Facebook. For people with lots of friends and Page likes, as many as 15,000 potential stories could appear any time they log on. We show them 300. News Feed is designed to show each person on Facebook the content that’s most relevant to them.

To combat organic reach decline, Facebook recommends posting more interesting, relevant content, launching strategic advertising campaigns, and generally just engaging your audience in a more thoughtful way instead of spamming your fans by trying to make something “go viral” that’s of lower quality and lesser interest to them. Even so, some Facebook users and page administrators have continued to vent that organic reach decline primarily hurts small businesses and non-profits.

In effort to address these valid concerns while still answering to their shareholders, Facebook rolled out a few important changes this week that will be hugely beneficial to all Facebook users and page administrators. Facebook hasn’t stated publicly if these platform changes will significantly address organic reach in a positive way, but we think they’re very much on the right track:

  1. Interest Targeting: Page administrators can now reach a specific subset of page fans with unpaid content. Starting this week, you can layer in interest targets–the same interest targeting on paid Facebook advertising–to ensure that the most relevant fans see specific pieces of content. Let’s say you own an e-commerce business specializing in jewelry and high-end lifestyle products. You draft a Facebook post about winter fashion tips and now you can show that post not only to page fans, but also to page fans who like Tory Burch, Michael Kors, or David Yurman. Highly specific interest targeting is now possible, even on unpaid posts. This practice ensures that page administrators can target ideal audiences for various pieces of content, thus your post organically reaches fans who are more likely to purchase whatever you’re sharing or highlighting.
  2. Post End Date: Perhaps you publish a very time-sensitive post (such as a 24 hour flash sale) and you don’t want that post to continue to live on indefinitely in the News Feed. It’s now possible to set a post end date, thus ensuring your message timing is air-tight. Another bonus: non-relevant information won’t continue to be shown or shared to your ideal audiences.
  3. Improved URL Insights: Every page administrator routinely asks “Why did X post get so much more traffic/likes/engagement than Y post?” We hear ya and Facebook hears you, too. Facebook is now offering more of a comprehensive reason WHY some posts fare better than others with improved URL insights. Facebook defines this new feature as  “URL-level reporting [that] shows when other pages and influencers share a post you’ve made to Facebook. For example, if a celebrity shares one of your URLs, you’ll know why that URL may have reached more people than other URLs. We also made the interface more intuitive and provide a way to segment data for specific time ranges, including hourly.” Here, page administrators previously had to look at each post individually to see the number of shares. Now post shares can be more easily viewed, tracked, and compared through reporting insights.
  4. Smart Publishing: While it is currently only available to a handful of media outlets, smart publishing now allows for an easier, more predictable way of sharing popular website content with page fans. Facebook explains “once you enable the setting, frequently shared links to your website can appear in the News Feed for people who like your Page. Those posts will not appear on your Page, but you’ll have access a new dashboard in Insights to see analytics, moderate comments, and choose which you want to post to your Page.” Facebook is hoping to roll out smart publishing to a wider grouping of publishers in coming months.

Page administrators and content publishers: keep talking. Facebook is listening.

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