What factors affect organic Facebook reach?

As I’m sure most people are all too aware of, achieving organic Facebook reach for your business is now harder than ever. There are many rumours surrounding the subject, but are they all true? I’ve looked at examples from 2 client’s Facebook pages to find out how different factors can affect organic reach.

Automated posting tools

There has been a stigma surrounding automated posting tools (e.g. Buffer, Hootsuite) since users experienced issues with reach back in 2011. Clearly the tools have been updated and improved since then, but does Facebook still penalise you for using them?

Usually I schedule all of my posts using Buffer, but I’ve made a few direct posts over the last few weeks to see if it had any effect on reach. The posts are very similar to one another and were posted at similar times of day.

Test one: Posted direct to Facebook (below):

Screenshot of Facebook post reaching 198 people.

Test one: Posted via Buffer (below):

Screenshot of Facebook post reaching 284 people.

Test two: Posted direct to Facebook:

Screenshot of Facebook post reaching 272 people.

Test two: Posted via Buffer:

Screenshot of Facebook post reaching 233 people.

As you can see from the examples, the use of Buffer seemed to have very little effect on reach. With the Buffered post from test one actually gaining higher reach than the direct post.

Links

You may be aware that Facebook’s most recent algorithm change brought in a rule that penalised click baiting. Here is a definition from Facebook:

Click-baiting is when a publisher posts a link with a headline that encourages people to click to see more, without telling them much information about what they will see.

This basically means something like this:

Screenshot of a Facebook click baiting post.

Facebook measures the amount of time a user spends on the linked page, and if they don’t stay for a reasonable period of time the page is assumed to contain poor quality content and is therefore penalised. This is also the case if a link has a lot of clicks, but the post gets no engagement.

Link in caption (below):

Facebook post showing link as part of caption (186 people reached)

No link (Below):

Screenshot of Facebook post without link (265 people reached)

As you can see, the post with no link performed significantly better in terms of both reach and overall engagement. All posts followed pretty much the same trend. I took the reach and engagement levels of the last five links and non-link posts and generated an average:

Table showing avg. 177.6 organic reach for links, and avg. 262 reach for non-linked posts.

The figures speak for themselves. Posts with no links are clearly better performers on average.

Now this doesn’t mean you should stop posting links altogether. They are a great way of sharing content with your audience, and of course driving traffic to your site. According to Facebook, they are now giving more weight to links posted in the proper format, rather than just in a caption or status update, as they give the user more information about the link before they click it. Below is an example of the correct way to share a link:

Screenshot showing Facebook post with image and customised headline.

The new link tool allows you to upload a custom image and edit the headline text, so you get just as much versatility as you would using an image caption. It is important to be aware when using automated tools such as Buffer that the image is pulled directly from the page you are linking, so unless there is a good quality relevant image on the page then it may be a better option to post directly to Facebook and upload your own.

Time of Day

Facebook analytics have a fantastic tool which tells you at what times your fans are online, but should you post at ‘peak’ times? Does the timing of your posts make a difference to organic reach?

Peak Time (below):

Screenshot of Facebook post, posted at 4:00pm reaching 116 people.

Non-Peak Time (below):

Screenshot of Facebook post, posted at 10:00pm reaching 265 people.

It may surprise you to see that the post made at the non-peak time performed a lot better. But why is this? A lot of pages will be making posts during ‘peak’ times; meaning competition to be seen in the newsfeed is high. If you make a post during a ‘non-peak’ time, although there are less people online, the ones who are much more likely to see, and subsequently engage with your posts. These engagements give the post more weighting when it reaches peak time, therefore generating higher reach overall.

Concluding thoughts

It definitely seems there is a lot to think about when trying to maximise organic reach, but a common theme here is the importance of making high-quality, engaging posts that will interest your audience. It is a known fact that engagement creates reach, so this should always be at the forefront of your mind when creating posts. There’s no denying that organic reach has taken a plummet in the last few years, however Facebook is far from dead. It just means marketers now need to put a little more thought into their strategies in order to stay afloat and stand out from the crowd.

This post was written by Georgina Makings

This post was written by Georgina Makings

Digital Marketing Internship

Enjoying a busy and full internship supporting our account managers in all aspects of delivery.

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