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Why is organic reach declining?

Over the past few months, I’ve read articles and answered questions from many people who are concerned about declines in organic reach for their Facebook Pages. Organic reach refers to how many people you can reach for free on Facebook by posting to your Page.
My colleagues and I at Facebook understand that this has been a pain point for many businesses, and we’re committed to helping you understand what’s driving this change so your business can succeed on Facebook.  To that end, today I’d like to answer some questions we’ve been hearing.
Why is organic reach declining?  There are two main reasons.
The first reason involves a simple fact: More and more content is being created and shared every day.  Today, thanks to devices like smartphones, many people can share this content with just a few swipes of the finger or taps of a button.
On average, there are 1 500 stories that could appear in a person’s News Feed each time they log onto Facebook.  For people with lots of friends and Page likes, as many as 15 000 potential stories could appear any time they log on.
As a result, competition in News Feed – the place on Facebook where people view content from their family and friends, as well as businesses – is increasing.
In addition to the growth in content, people are also liking more Pages.  The total number of Pages liked by the typical Facebook user grew more than 50% last year.  With each new Page like, competition in News Feed increases even further.
The second reason involves how News Feed works.  Of the 1 500+ stories a person might see whenever they log onto Facebook, News Feed displays approximately 300. To choose which stories to show, News Feed ranks each possible story (from more to less important) by looking at thousands of factors relative to each person.
Over the past year, we’ve made some key changes to improve how News Feed chooses content:

  • We’ve gotten better at showing high quality content
  • And we’ve cleaned up News Feed spam

As a result of these changes, News Feed is becoming more engaging, even as the amount of content being shared on Facebook continues to grow.
Why not just show everything – every piece of content from every friend and Page – and let people decide what they want to see?
In our tests, we’ve always found that the News Feed ranking system offers people a better, more engaging experience on Facebook.
Is organic reach dropping because Facebook is trying to make more money?
No. Our goal is always to provide the best experience for the people that use Facebook.  We believe that delivering the best experiences for people also benefits the businesses that use Facebook. If people are more active and engaged with stories that appear in News Feed, they are also more likely to be active and engaged with content from businesses.
Ok, there’s more content now.  But what’s the value of having more people like my Page?  I paid good money for my fans on Facebook, and now I can’t reach as many of them. Fans absolutely have value. 
  • Fans make your ads more effective.  When an ad has social context — in other words, when a person sees their friend likes your business – your ads drive, on average, 50% more recall and 35% higher online sales lift.
  •  Fans also make the ads you run on Facebook more efficient in our ads auction.
  •  You can use insights about your fans to inform decisions about reaching your current and prospective customers.
  •  Fans can give your business credibility.
Fans may represent your best customers, but it’s important to note that they don’t represent all of your customers or potential customers.  Fans can help you achieve your business objectives on Facebook, but having fans should not be thought of as an end unto itself.
How to use Facebook for your business
Organic content still has value on Facebook, and Pages that publish great content can still reach people in News Feed.  However, anticipating organic reach can be unpredictable, and having a piece of content ‘go viral’ rarely corresponds to a business’s core goals.
Your business will see much greater value if you use Facebook to achieve specific business objectives, like driving in-store sales or boosting app downloads.
Like TV, search, newspapers, radio and virtually every other marketing platform, Facebook is far more effective when businesses use paid media to help meet their goals. Your business won’t always appear on the first page of a search result unless you’re paying to be part of that space.
Similarly, paid media on Facebook allows businesses to reach broader audiences more predictably, and with much greater accuracy than organic content.
How do I know things won’t keep changing?
We’ll always innovate on behalf of the people who use Facebook.  And we must be more transparent with and helpful to the businesses that market on Facebook.  We’re working hard to improve our communications about upcoming product changes.  We’re committed to helping your business grow and making sure you get the most from your investment in Facebook.
This is an adaptation of an article written by Brian Boland, who leads the Ads Product Marketing team at Facebook. You can read the full article here.


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