The End of Organic Social Reach

 

Fall is in the air, and that means two things:

  1. There is no escaping the angelic wonder that is commonly known as “Pumpkin Spice”
  2. It’s time for another Facebook algorithm change

Like clockwork, every 6 months or so, Facebook makes a change to their algorithm that impacts how often a non-promoted brand’s post will be shown to the brand’s audience on Facebook. For the past 7 years, Facebook has slowly been scaling back a brand’s organic reach a little at a time, leaving brands and publishers gnashing their teeth.

Facebook has now started conducting tests that would eliminate organic reach completely. Instead of a branded post being shown in an individual’s news feed, brand posts would now be shown under the Explore feed - unless the brand pays to promote the post.

Right now, the tests are only being conducted in:

  • Sri Lanka
  • Bolivia
  • Slovakia
  • Serbia
  • Guatemala
  • Cambodia

Though Facebook officials say they have “no current plans to roll this out globally,” many brands and publishers (including ourselves), feel these tests are just the first step to an inevitable 0% organic reach rating.

giphy_14.gif

 

The History of Organic Decline

Fire up your time machine and pop in that “Umbrella” CD. To understand why Facebook has been steadily moving towards a 0% organic reach, let’s look at some of their historic algorithm changes. 

  • 2007 - Publishers and brands were allowed create pages, grow an audience and post content to the Newsfeed
  • 2010 - Facebook dials organic reach down from 90% to 30%
  • 2012 - Organic reach falls to 16%
  • 2014 - Organic shrinks again, this time to 6.5%
  • Current - Most brands enjoy an organic reach of 1-2%

giphy_1_7.gif

 

How to Live in a 0% Organic Reach World

The question isn’t, will organic reach drop to 0% on Facebook; the question is when will we see this drop. Any brand or publisher relying on Facebook for sales and web traffic needs to put together a plan for the inevitable end of organic reach.

Focus More on Creating Great Content
Your audience size doesn’t play as significant of a role in a 0% organic reach world. Whether you have 1,000 Facebook fans or 100,000, zero reach means that none of your fans will see your content in their Newsfeeds, period. Instead, they’ll be shown your brand post in their Explore feed when they feel like seeing some branded content.

What this means for you as the brand, is that more than ever, you need to make sure that you’re only publishing quality content. The goal of every content piece should be focused on Shares and Comments, as those actions will help to take your post out of Explore and into a person’s Timeline where it will be viewable to their social audience.

giphy_2_4.gif

Pay to Play
Realize that if you’re going to get your content out there, you might need to start investing in more promoted posts. As with all marketing expenses, the more capital you put into a channel, the greater the need to make a strong ROI on the spend. To help maximize the return on your new promoted posts expense, be sure that your brand uses all the advertising tools Facebook has created including:

  • Custom audience
  • Conversion tracking
  • Retargeting
  • Audience Insights

Build an Advocacy Marketing Program
While brands continue to see their organic reach decline with these algorithm changes, personal Timelines get spared. What this means is that your fans are still reaching a strong percentage of their social network every time they post to Facebook. This holds true whether it’s a picture of their least favorite cat or a link to some awesome brand content. If it’s going on their Timeline, it’s going to hit most of their friends’ Newfeeds.

This increased visibility is one of the top reasons for your brand to consider building an advocacy marketing program. You can find out more about starting an advocacy marketing program here, but in general, here are the highlights:

  • Your Superfans and brand advocates sign up to join your advocacy marketing program
  • Once signed up, you email your latest content to them to share to their social networks
  • They share your content to their Facebook feed
  • Their friends and family see your awesome brand content and engage with it
  • The Superfan earns points or rewards for sharing your content
  • Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

Focus On Your Owned Platforms and Audiences
As Facebook continues to scale back reach, it’s important for brands themselves to invest in creating and managing their owned marketing assets, platforms, and channels. That is, cultivate audiences that you can reach outside of your Facebook page. This means focusing on:

  • Building your email list
  • Investing in your website or mobile app
  • Growing your advocates and influencer audiences
  • Publishing great content to your website – and making sure it’s SEO-friendly

The more 100% ownable your audience and traffic driving, the less reliant your brand needs to be on Facebook. By taking the time to invest in these audiences today, you can better be prepared for the inevitable shift to 0% reach.

source_6.gif

 

Want to learn more about how an advocacy marketing program can help increase your content reach and visibility? Schedule a free demo of the SocialToaster platform with one of our senior team members today.