Is Facebook’s Organic Reach ‘Bug’ as Bad as Everyone is Saying?

4 min read by tom 7 Dec 2016

Organic Reach Bug

For a few weeks now, social media managers and commentators have been up in arms about Facebook’s reveal of a ‘bug’ that has meant Facebook’s organic reach has been overestimated for some time. The issue, as described by the Wall Street Journal, is as follows:

Facebook found it had been overcounting how many people were exposed to marketers’ organic posts, meaning regular posts that weren’t paid ads, because it was adding up the daily reach over certain periods without accounting for repeat visitors. The corrected metric on average will be about 33% lower for the seven-day period and 55% lower for the 28-day period, Facebook said.

Cue world-ending chaos across social media. However, amongst the outrage and worry, it is important to ask… Is it as bad as we all think?

Is Reach a Valuable Metric?

Let’s be honest, we’ve all known for some time that organic performance on Facebook was going to take a bit of a hit. Facebook’s algorithm naturally favours paid content, as you’d expect from a business trying to make money, so the revelation that organic doesn’t generally perform all that well isn’t exactly a great shock.

The other question to consider is how useful and valuable a metric social reach really is? The very nature of social content is typically quite throwaway, with the sheer volume that people consume, so as a metric, reach only tells us that people have scrolled past it on their burgeoning news feed. As marketers, we should be judging how people are engaging with pages and specific content, and how this connects to business goals.

How Can Marketers Make Use of Organic?

What the news does highlight is that marketers need to consider how they approach organic engagement, or take the plunge into paid campaigns. Whilst organic social is now more of a challenge, there are a number of staple social tactics that businesses should consider.

  • Competitions – Competitions remain a popular and effective tactic on social media, with no shortage of people looking for free stuff. Competitions only need one or two people to see and engage with them to light the fuse of engagement. The key rules to follow are to make the prize accessible and the competition easy to enter.
  • Review Platform – Many people forget that Facebook is also a review platform for businesses, which as an organic tool is particularly useful for a brand. Direct your customers onto Facebook regularly and make sure that all reviews – good or bad – receive a reply from the brand.
  • Use of Video – Video content naturally stands out in the typical Facebook news feed, more so than links, photos and general content. It also encourages the highest amount of engagement, which is vital to boosting organic reach. Use video where possible and take the time to form a detailed video strategy each month.
  • Offline Campaigns – If your business is producing offline content, such as posters, articles and adverts, always take the opportunity to feature Facebook URLs, and where possible some form of incentive to follow company pages – whether that is exclusive content or a donation to a charitable organisation based on a certain number of followers. If you work in a customer-facing industry, such as a restaurant, directly ask customers to follow your page.

Moving forward, it will become more difficult to get your organic content seen, and many businesses will need to consider how paid Facebook spend can fit into their strategies, as well as how much budget they can afford to put behind such a plan.

However, Facebook’s admission is not as bad as it seems, with very little actual change to the status quo of things. Marketers and businesses will naturally need to be vigilant with regards to the effectiveness of their campaigns, but on the whole, a more accurate representation of a page’s reach can only be a good thing.

If you would like to discuss your social media strategy, get in touch with the StrategiQ team today.

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