When Facebook launched in 2004, it was lauded for its ability to connect brands with their followers for little or no cost. All you had to do was post content on your page, and everyone who liked your page would see it.
Unfortunately for Facebook (and for users), this wasn’t an effective method of generating profit. Facebook held its initial public offering (IPO) in May of 2012, and a few short months later, organic reach tanked by up to 80%.
The organic reach of Facebook posts has been on the decline since its IPO. It now sits at a measly 6%, which leaves social media marketers, large corporations, and small business and organizations struggling to reach their audience.
What is Organic Reach?
On Facebook, “organic reach” indicates how many people will see your post without paid promotion or help from the Facebook algorithm.
Facebook’s News Feed algorithm is based on three factors:
User affinity is based on the one-way relationship between the viewing user and the post creator. It’s calculated by analyzing the user’s repeat interactions with a brand’s posts.
The more a person comments, likes, or shares a post, or the more you communicate with each other via Messenger, the higher your affinity will be. The higher your affinity, the more likely it is that a user will see your posts.
Facebook determines the weight of your content using a value system. There are two types of weight:
- Post weight indicates the weight assigned to different types of posts. For example, videos uploaded to Facebook weigh more than a simple text-only post.
- Interaction weight describes the value associated with different actions and types of engagement. For example, comments weigh more than a simple like because they require more work from the user. Shares and comments weigh the most, while likes and clicks weigh the least.
The older a post is, the less valuable it is, and therefore the less likely it is to show up in your followers’ News Feeds. However, if you posted something three days ago and your audience is still liking, commenting on, and sharing your post, that post will continue to rank highly (because of the Weight factor).
The time decay factor helps keep News Feeds fresh with new content. Recent research indicates that the average Facebook post expires within two to five hours, so it’s important to re-share your content if you want it to remain visible.
Why is Organic Reach Declining?
This video does a fantastic job of explaining why your organic Facebook reach is declining. Check it out:
Basically, organic reach is declining because Facebook doesn’t make money unless you pay for ads or to promote a post. Whether you agree with this policy or not, chances are you’ll have to live with it. The good news is that it’s still very possible for your posts to go viral for free – if you create great content.
Nolan Wilson is a Freelance writer in Toronto that specializes in SEO writing and blogging. He has a Master’s Degree in Library and Information Science and is a professional member of the PWAC. Connect with him on Google + and Twitter.