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May 5, 2017

Facebook’s Organic Reach is Waning: How to Adapt

If you’ve been a Facebook devotee for years, you may have noticed something alarming in recent months: Its organic reach is declining.

While your Facebook posts used to earn you a huge number of shares and interactions, they now are faltering and you’re not sure how to keep up.

The fact is, this decline isn’t new. Most experts report the decline in organic reach hit its peak in 2014. This was when marketers started voicing concern about the situation.

The bad news is that there’s not much you can do to reverse the trend on Facebook itself. The good news is that you can adapt. You just have to learn how.

Why is Facebook’s Reach Declining?

The decline in Facebook’s organic reach owes to several things. The first, however, is that there is so much content being published on Facebook right now that it’s virtually overwhelming the system. Right now, there are more than 1.86 billion people using Facebook, and each of them is publishing and sharing content.

As you can imagine, this makes gaining visibility in the news feed a difficult thing.

Beyond that, Facebook changed its ranking algorithm in 2015. This change threw out chronological arrangement of posts and updates, and started ranking posts according to the level of interest Facebook assumed specific readers would have in it. While this was great (theoretically) for customization and personalization, it was awful for marketers.

And that situation has only gotten worse since then. Even before Facebook updated its algorithm in 2015, a study found that the organic reach for average Facebook pages had plummeted from 6.5 percent to 16 percent.

Kurt Gessler, deputy editor of the digital news department at the Chicago Tribune, published a Medium article on April 17 that broke the news that Facebook wasn’t surfacing a full one-third of posts.

How Can You Adapt?

Dismayed by the findings here? Don’t panic. There are smart ways to deal with the reality of declining organic reach, and they don’t require you to break the bank or reinvent the wheel.

Here are a few tips:

1. Choose Your Posts More Carefully

Before the algorithm changed, marketers could take the “spray and pray” approach – sending out dozens of untargeted, largely useless posts and enjoying large organic reach nonetheless. Today, that’s not true. Instead, you need to make each post you publish as targeted as possible.

While most marketers know this is true for sponsored posts, it’s also true for general posts. Targeting them efficiently will help ensure your audience finds them, and that the content is interesting and relevant when they do.

2. Help Your Fans Update Their Settings

Sometimes, the problem with your organic reach isn’t that your content is poor, it’s simply that the algorithm isn’t letting your audience see it. While the algorithm update was meant to help users enjoy more relevant content, it’s not foolproof.

With this in mind, HubSpot recommends reminding your fans that they can update the notification settings pertaining to your content in their profile settings. By switching their preferences to see your content first, they can “hack” the system to take it back to a more chronological approach, and ensure they never miss another one of your posts again.

3. Ask for Engagement

The more engagement your posts get, the more preference the algorithm will give them. That said, ask your readers to interact with your content. A simple like, share, or comment can go a long way to ensure your readers get more of your material, and that your organic reach remains where it should be.

4. Take to Live Videos

Live videos are one effective way to get around Facebook’s declining organic reach problem. Today, surveys show that Facebook users spend three times as much time watching Live videos as they do traditional videos, so broadcasting via Facebook Live could be an effective way to engage your audience and generate buzz.

5. Start Focusing on Your Own Content

While you can take a series of approaches to improving your Facebook reach, it’s also smart to focus on the platforms you can fully control. Namely, your own blog. While Facebook will always be valuable, your organic site content is your own real estate and, when done correctly, can pay off more than Facebook ever would have.

Focus on creating quality content on your own site. You won’t have to worry about algorithms damaging your engagement. For best results, hire professional writers to help make your content as quality as possible.

To learn more about why publishing your own content is so important, check out this post on the topic.

6. Kick Up Your Advertising

Many a marketer is wary about Facebook advertising because they’ve put money into it without seeing any results. While advertising can be a smart idea, you’ve got to do it the right way. This means tracking the actions users take on your ads, targeting a customized audience and using your audience insights to learn about your customers.

A Bright Future Awaits Your Content

While Facebook’s declining organic reach can be troubling, there are smart steps you can take address this issue. By doing simple things like targeting your advertising if you’re going to run it, helping your fans update their display settings, and publishing more organic content, you can improve your organic reach across the board.

Remember, though: while Facebook will always be a valuable platform, the best thing you can do for your company is the creation of custom content. Not only are you fully in control of this content, you can also target and adjust it to fit your audience, no matter how much it grows or shifts over the years.


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Julia McCoy is a top 30 content marketer and has been named an industry thought leader by several publications. She enjoys making the gray areas of content marketing clear with practical training, teaching, and systems. Her career in content marketing was completely self-taught. In 2011, she dropped out of college to follow her passion in writing, and since then grew her content agency, Express Writers, to thousands of worldwide clients from scratch. Julia is the author of two bestselling books on content marketing and copywriting, and is the host of The Write Podcast. Julia writes as a columnist on leading publications and certifies content strategists in her training course, The Content Strategy & Marketing Course. Julia lives in Austin, Texas with her daughter, husband, and one fur baby.

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