Facebook moves the goal posts again.

Facebook Organic Reach

In March this year we reported brands were experiencing much lower organic reach (the total number of people who see a brand’s content through unpaid distribution) on Facebook than before.  Facebook didn’t stop there. Recent attempts to deliver better quality content to users means brands are seeing even less organic reach.

The industry is reporting a 40% decrease in organic reach for brands YOY.  Facebook suggests this isn’t purely a result of changes to its edgerank (the algorithm that determines what content should be displayed in users’ News Feeds). They argue this is also a result of the large increase in content on Facebook, coupled with an increase in the number of pages the average user likes. To make matters worse, brands have been increasing their post frequency in response to their decreased organic reach. The overall result: more competition than ever for News Feed real estate.

What can brands do?

Because organic reach is never guaranteed, Facebook suggests using content to support overall business objectives like driving customers in-store or encouraging App downloads rather than trying to get ‘viral’ views of content.

However, if a piece of content doesn’t attract any organic reach in the first place, paid reach is the only way fans will see this content. This is disappointing for brands that have invested in growing an engaged community with the hope of benefiting from amplification of content through organic reach.

In spite of this, brands shouldn’t disregard the effect of organic reach completely. If a brand is willing to pay for reach, it can also ensure its content is optimised for Facebook’s edgerank to maximise its organic reach.  This will help deliver a brand’s content to more people overall.

What kinds of content should brands avoid?

Recent changes to Facebook’s edgerank deprioritise the following types of content:

Memes

Memes are often highly engaging, however some brands have been using memes irrelevant to their brand to increase their overall engagement.

Like-baiting

Any content that uses a call to action such as ‘like’, ‘comment’ or ‘share’ within posts will be penalised. This technique was considered best practice to get more engagement from fans until now.

Old/frequently circulated content:

Brands re-posting old content, sharing content from other pages will lose out to brands investing in bespoke content.

Implicit sharing

Facebook favours content that is shared explicitly (e.g. a user clicking on the ‘share’ button) over content that is shared implicitly (like Spotify’s automatic post from a user when using the product because they haven’t selected a ‘private’ session).

What content should brands use?

Fan-centric content with the following qualities is more likely to engage and deliver more organic reach:

– added value to fans’ lives
– entertaining
– thought provoking
– surprising/ delightful and educational.

Start a conversation

Ask your fanbase questions, encourage conversations between fans and directly mention fans within your content.  Fans a brand interacts with are 4.25x more likely to re-engage with that brand than the average fan.

And if you do this well, your fans will start these conversations themselves – making your job much easier!

What is the future for brands on Facebook?

Facebook will continue to refine its edgerank to prioritise content it considers more interesting for users. It’s likely that at some stage in the future, brands won’t be able to get their content into fans’ News Feeds at all without paying for it. Until then, brands can ensure they have processes in place to stay up-to-date with changes to edgerank and incorporate these into their content strategy to ensure their content reaches as many fans as possible.

Author: Virginia Bashford, Senior Account Manager