Facebook Organic Reach Down? Here Are 10 Things You Can Do.
Why did my Facebook reach suddenly drop?
You’re not alone. Almost across the board, the organizations we work with are noticing the same thing on Facebook: a steady decline in their organic reach. As of 2021, the average reach for an organic Facebook post is down to 5.2%—declining from 5.5% in 2019 and 7.7% in 2018. There is a range of factors that can be contributing to this—and there is a strong case to be made that Facebook is now a pay-to-play platform. First, it’s worth asking if Facebook is the best platform for your organization to have a social media presence on. It may be one of the biggest social media spaces, but that doesn’t always mean it’s the best for your organization.
Before you continue reading, you might want to consider whether your audience exists there and if the features and functionality of Facebook help you reach your social media and organizational goals. If the answer is yes, it’s a good idea to explore ways to expand your organic reach on Facebook.
Why is reach in decline?
First, it’s important to understand Facebook’s algorithm—which decides which posts people see and in what order they show up. Instead of presenting each post in chronological order, Facebook’s algorithm evaluates every post, scores it, and then customizes a descending order of posts for each individual user.
Over time, Facebook’s algorithm has evolved toward prioritizing posts that keep people engaged and encourage meaningful interactions (i.e. comments and conversations). So, the amount of comments and time spent on an organic post will matter in Facebook’s algorithm equation. The more meaningful interaction a post gets, the higher it will be prioritized in the algorithm (and the more people will see your post).
More recently—with the spread of misinformation coming out of election seasons and during the COVID-19 pandemic—Facebook has started allowing users to identify which posts they prefer to see (with the “Why Am I Seeing This?” feature). The most recent update in 2020 allows users to protect their privacy and personal data on the platform. While this is an ethically good move on Facebook’s part, it can also contribute to lower reach for your posts.
Second, Facebook continues to evolve more and more into a pay-to-play platform. Paid advertising and boosted posts will always outperform organic posts, and that prioritization makes organic posts less likely to be seen. The influx of boomers — an older demographic with theoretically more money to spend — on Facebook highlights why it’s such a prime place to run ads.
Although money talks — or “reaches” — on Facebook, it’s important to remember that organic social is foundational to your ad strategy. Paid ad campaigns are more successful when there is a consistent and engaging organic social media presence on the platform.
How can you increase post reach on Facebook?
#1 — Generate Conversation
The Facebook algorithm prioritizes meaningful conversation over likes. Create posts that will build community by encouraging conversation. You can drive these interactions by posting engaging content, asking questions in your copy, or by weighing in via comments. The more people interact with your content and engage in conversation, the more Facebook will register that people find your posts and your Facebook content interesting.
#2 — Check In
While you want to avoid engagement bait — which are manipulative actions or spammy requests in posts — it is wise to take a moment to authentically engage with your audience by checking in and asking questions.
This goes beyond just engaging in the comments. This is a suggestion to thoughtfully and authentically ask your audience how they are feeling about something or what they want to see from you.
One of our clients, the Natural Resource Defense Council, saw a 1300% increase in impressions and 77% increase in engagement rate on their Facebook page when asking what their supporters wanted to see, and then following through, in the early days of the pandemic:
#3 — Optimize Link Posts
Link posts are a popular post format on Facebook, but some links will be prioritized in the algorithm over others. First, be sure that the article or third-party content is recent, as recency of content is prioritized in the algorithm over old or outdated news.
Additionally, be sure that you are using high-quality links that drive to fast-loading landing pages. In fact, a few years ago Facebook announced that they would start prioritizing link posts that drive to fast-loading pages and would penalize posts that link to slow landing pages.
Other things that can negatively affect the reach of your link post is if it the headline is spammy or if it leads to a low-quality landing page with disruptive ads
#4 — Interact with your Audience
Facebook’s algorithm prioritizes posts from Pages that a user has interacted with in the past. This means interacting with users via comments or Messenger — and building an ongoing relationship and conversation — is key.
#5 — Hearts > Thumbs
In recent years, Facebook has weighted reaction buttons more heavily than likes in their algorithm scores. When creating posts, consider what messaging or creative will trigger emotional reactions—loving, sadness, etc.—over a simple like. This will rank your post higher in the algorithm and drive more reach throughout its lifetime.
#6 — Get Verified
Getting verified on Facebook—that is, getting the blue check mark next to your name—shows users that your Page is the official representation of your brand and maintains authenticity with your followers. Being verified also means that your page will rank above others when your organization’s name is searched. You can find instructions on how to get Facebook verified here.
#7 — Post Variety
If you tend to post the same format on Facebook all the time, try switching it up. You may find that other post formats gain more reach for your audience than others.
Take this a step further by testing out new features on the platform. Though it’s not proven, many social media marketers believe the algorithm gives preference to posts and pages that utilize new features, like Facebook Live, in order to promote them. From their vantage point, more people piloting new features will make others more likely to hop on board.
#8 — Facebook Groups
Niche communities are becoming more and more popular as people try to break through the noise and chaos on social media. When based on and built around the needs of a community, Facebook Groups can have extremely effective reach and engagement. Plus, the posts from a Facebook Group have a higher likelihood of being seen in an individual’s Facebook feed over regular Page posts.
#9 — Go Live
Facebook Live and Stories are a great way to drive reach on the platform. Aside from building community in real time, Facebook Live and Stories provides a sense of authenticity for the audience — in turn, creating meaningful interaction that Facebook prioritizes.
#10 — Try Ads
The sad reality: having a paid media budget is no longer an option when it comes to being seen and driving reach on Facebook. It doesn’t have to be thousands of dollars per month, but every organization should budget some kind of ad campaign moving forward if they want to expand their reach. We recommend at least $500 each month.
Still not sure where to start? Drop us a line. We’d be happy to help.