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June 18, 2019

The Black Magic of Facebook’s Organic Reach Algorithm

Guest post by Jordan Garegnani, Project Manager and Online Community Manager

facebook-edgerankNotice how your Facebook posts are being shown to fewer and fewer of your followers? Yeah, we have too.

That has to do with a few things – including the new Organic Reach Algorithm. First off, before we get too detailed, let’s define the difference between organic and paid reach.

Organic Reach: How many people see your posts for free (chronologically, and/or shared with their friends)
Paid Reach: How many people see your posts based on your paid advertising

As marketers, we like getting the most bang for our buck and aim for high organic reach in our social media endeavors – it gives the most value to our customers. That’s why we were disappointed to find out that times they are a-changin’. Paid reach is now the only way to ensure followers see important information.

Facebook, according to their blog, says there are 2 main reasons for the decline of Organic Reach.

1. More and more content is being pushed into the same amount of digital space. More people and brands are joining Facebook every day and people like 50% more brand pages this year than last. Also, with the convenience of mobile and scheduled posting, those brands are posting more content. That’s a lot of competition and viewers can’t possibly see every single post by their friends or the brands they follow. This one is just a bummer, but fair enough – it’s a big wide world out there and may the best content win!

“Even if Facebook left the news feed code as it stood right now, organic reach was already on the decline. Social@Ogilvy tracked the drop earlier this year, from 16% of followers engaging with a brand page post in 2012, to 6% in February 2014 for smaller pages and just 2% for pages with over 500,000 followers.” – Ewan Spence, Forbes

The second reason is more of a bummer – I mean it’s hard enough to reach followers as it is. (see above)

2. Facebook adjusted the reach algorithm to decide which 300 stories of around 1500 potential stories will show up in followers’ news feeds. That’s a one-in-five chance your post will be seen by any given follower.  These changes are strategized to show people content that is relevant/interesting to your followers (based on individual Facebook interactions). Their goal with this is to reduce low-quality posts and spam, so marketers, even more so now, have to put out good content just to be seen by current followers.

“Organic content still has value on Facebook, and Pages that publish great content — content that teaches people something, entertains them, makes them think, or in some other way adds value to their lives — can still reach people in News Feed.” – Brian Boland, Facebook

TechCrunch has a good visual way of explaining the mythical Facebook algorithm.

facebook-news-feed-edgerank-algorithm

Facebook’s Conclusion: Curating the newsfeed and feed “health” is the goal. Clearly this makes sense if Facebook wants to stick around long-term. If people aren’t interested in reading what’s on their newsfeed, they won’t use Facebook and there goes another digital marketing channel. (RIP Myspace)

To air a bit of grievance, we do feel justified in this statement in TechCrunch:

“What was truly disingenuous was that Facebook told companies to buy Likes as a long-term investment, when it likely could already see or at least predict that reach to those fans would decline, devaluing the investment. It’s like telling someone to save their money in a time of rapid inflation.”  – Josh Constine, TechCrunch 

1351612838_2844_facebook2Our conclusion: Creating meaningful interactions with true “brand ambassadors” will soon be the only free way to spread your content around. Your followers just became even more valuable – they will help decide how far your content goes, improve auction price for your ads and lend your brand credibility as brand advocates.  It does seem as though Facebook is taking a stance of “for the greater good” while being unapologetic to brands on their platform. But we’ve come this far, looks like we’re along for the ride!