When it comes to organic reach on social media, the golden days are definitely over. With algorithms changing by the minute, and a constant decline in organic reach on most big platforms, the secret to reaching your target audience on social media without using paid ads is now a bigger dilemma than ever.
Why has organic reach on social media declined?
Can you reach your followers organically nowadays?
Is it worth investing your resources in an organic strategy?
Instead of just lamenting about how much easier it once was to get more brand visibility, we wanted to address all these questions in detail, in the hopes that it’ll bring you closer to understanding how to reach your target audience on social media organically.
We’ll cover the basics, give you an overview of the situation with organic reach on social in 2019, and cover some pretty effective tactics you can use to improve your organic reach on social media.
Let’s dig in!
What Is Organic Social Media Reach?
Organic reach is essentially a metric used in social media marketing – it’s what we use to describe the number of unique social media accounts that have seen a particular piece of social media content once, without the use of any paid tools to boost its visibility.
Organic reach is intrinsically tied to the number of followers a social media page has, although there are other factors that can contribute to a larger organic reach – such as hashtags and targeting.
SEO and Organic Reach on Social Media Go Hand in Hand
Let’s make a very convenient analogy here – for social media, organic reach is what SEO is for Google, because the goal of “organic reach” is to basically get you to rank higher on people’s social media feeds.
In simple terms, organic reach equals exposure. It’s something that gets you in front of an audience, and the first step to actually getting your content out there. What comes after is the very difficult and particular task of drawing your audience in – with your branding, the quality of your content, and the value you provide to your customers.
The Benefits of Having Good Organic Reach on Social Media
Paid ads are an essential tool in social media marketing, but they should be built on the backbone of a sound organic content strategy. Having organic content on your social media pages has a number of benefits:
- It gives your brand more credibility.
- It gives your users more content to browse when they reach your social media page which allows them to familiarize themselves with your brand.
- It leads to more B2C engagement.
- Organic content has higher click-through rates (CTR).
- With organic content, your brand seems less promotional.
- Relying only on paid advertising is unlikely to get you optimal exposure.
So naturally, the question that follows is:
What’s the current situation with organic reach on the biggest platforms?
Well, there’s been a steady and well-documented decline of organic reach on social, and that’s what we’re going to discuss next.
Why Has Organic Reach Plummeted on Social?
There are many positive changes in social media that can impact your marketing in 2019, but organic reach is not one of them – it’s been on the decline for quite some time now.
So if yours has dropped notably as well, let’s try to understand why this happened so we know how to fix it.
Of course, the first thing to consider is the fact that social media platforms are essentially businesses, and businesses want to turn a profit. And they make it by creating an environment where brands on social invest more and more in paid ads.
So that part is indisputable – but there’s more to it. While we’ll never be able to fully gauge the dominant motivations behind algorithm changes on social, we can at least acknowledge that they’re more complex than just “making money”.
According to Social Flow, brands on Facebook experienced a 42% drop in organic reach per post in the first half of 2016, one of the sharpest drops ever, which of course, coincided with a big change in Facebook’s algorithm.
In June 2016, Facebook announced their algorithm change designed to give priority to posts from friends and family, in an attempt to connect users to the “people, places, and things” they “want to be connected to”. At the time, this came as a hit – but it was not unanticipated, as organic reach decline had been steady since 2012. While it’s obvious that this development led more and more marketers turn to paid (and forced them to up their game when it comes to content quality), Facebook’s motivations were not only monetary – they also wanted to make their platform a more positive experience for users.
The algorithm changes that we’ve seen in recent years are all designed to improve social media user experience. And what’s the primary factor that shows a particular piece of content is a positive experience for users? Engagement.
What the algorithm does is it first showcases your posts to a small pool of followers. If they find it interesting and engage with the posts, then the algorithm will introduce it to a larger audience – giving your posts more reach.
The more engaging your content is – the more people will see it.
If it’s not, it quickly gets drowned in the sea of alternative social media content.
Algorithms are not the only culprit behind the decrease in organic reach on social media. Even if we still had the chronological feeds social media networks first started out with, it would have still been possible for your content to never see the light of day, as a result of the growth of social media networks and the sheer number of posts on social.
This concept is very simple – too many pages producing tons and tons of content results in News Feed competition for visibility that is through the roof.
How Do You Increase Organic Social Media Reach?
So social reach has declined, yes, however, that’s not to say that there’s absolutely nothing you can do about it. On the contrary, it’s important to stay informed and adjust your organic social reach campaigns accordingly.
Paid ads are one thing, and we’ve talked about those on several occasions, both when it comes to Instagram and Facebook, the first two platforms that come up in conversation. But as we discussed above, there are many benefits to maintaining an organic strategy on social, and we’re here to show you exactly how to reap them.
So let’s see what tactics you can use if you want to reinforce your social media efforts with effective organic campaigns.
Strategies to Increase Your Social Media Reach
Focus Your Efforts on the Social Media Networks that Make Sense
We know that it’s tempting to just expand on every social media network but don’t let your ambitions get the better of you. Cross-channel marketing on multiple social media channels has its merits, but it’s important that you first try to create a strategy for those social media networks that make sense for your business.
How? Easy – just ask yourself a couple of key questions:
- What Are Your Competitors Doing?
It’s always helpful to look at the top brands in your niche and try to see what tactics they resort to. Which platforms do they use?
- Compare Engagement and Reach Counts
If you’re using social buttons everywhere (which you should be), then an easy and effective thing to do would be to compare how each social button is performing. Where do people share your content? It makes sense to focus your attention on the networks that already show traction.
By choosing the right platforms you’ll save yourself valuable energy, resources, and time and you can create a much more focused strategy on social.
- Where Is Your Target Audience?
This is hardly the first time we mention this – but it’s just crucial. Your ideal social media network is going to depend largely on your niche. If you’re about beauty, lifestyle or photography for example, it makes sense to go on Instagram, if you’re a brand persona, you should definitely consider Snapchat, if you’re in tech or media then Twitter for sure. It’s not possible for us to address every industry and niche out there – but you get the picture. When deciding on a network, just think about your ideal customer and where they like to hang out.
Stay Up-to-date With Social Media Algorithms
Keeping track of the changes in social media algorithms and whether the content you’re posting is in compliance with them is a major factor for better organic reach.
Active interactions (engagement) have a lot of weight in Facebook’s algorithm, so any post that gets more likes, shares, and comments will have an easier time making it to the top of people’s feeds.
Other things the algorithm pays attention to is the average time spent on a particular post, and multiple replies on comments.
When it comes to Twitter, the signals its algorithm values most are the presence of media cards (videos or images), engagement (of course) and whether a particular Twitter user has had interactions with your page before (so again, engagement).
So overall, we see that engagement is what truly counts – although all these things are always subject to change, which is why you should always, always keep track of updates in algorithms to make sure you’re staying relevant. If you want to read more about algorithm changes on social, check out this article.
Be Careful With Clickbait and Engagement Bait
While we’re on the subject of algorithms and organic reach, let’s just briefly discuss how important it actually is to comply with what a particular platform considers quality original content.
Due to the rise of clickbait and engagement bait empires that built their social media pages on the basis of sensationalism and overproduction, most social platforms have really tried to stimulate more quality content through algorithm changes.
If you’re traffic-hungry enough, then yes, there are shortcuts you can take. But in the long run, all a social media platform such as Facebook needs to do is tweak their algorithm again and that’s enough for businesses to start thanking left and right.
At the end of the day what will always matter is quality – and if you make sure that’s your content production goal it will always pay off in the end.
Less or More Posting?
We’ve talked about the best posting times on social media before, as well as the optimal numbers of posts per day for every social media platform. But this here is another matter. Should you follow those instructions blindly even if it means that you’ll be prioritizing quantity over quality?
We think that shouldn’t be the case. When it comes to how much content you should be producing for optimal organic reach on social media, it will always come down to your unique company and brand – its size, its digital marketing budget, and the resources you have at your disposal.
The competition in social media is so tough there’s always going to be a competitor who can produce more than you.
And if you can’t beat their production rate – beat their quality, it’s as simple as that.
Sign up to Amplifr to receive best posting time predictions and schedule your content to all your social media accounts from a single dashboard
User Generated Content (UGC)
We already mentioned that UGC is one of the biggest trends in 2019, and it’s only projected to grow. So, don’t forget to make space for it in your content strategy – it’s free, it will give you amazing reach, and it’s interactive – not to mention that the users you’ll be sharing (with appropriate credits) will like your brand even more. Check out our article on the biggest social media trends in 2019 for more tips on how you can use user-generated content to stimulate organic reach.
Manage Niche Groups
Nowadays, Facebook is all about building “communities” and what better way to do that than by maintaining a moderated Facebook group? Truth be told, this is a slightly under-researched field in social media marketing, but there’s plenty of anecdotal evidence that groups can work, given that you follow a few simple guidelines.
First, it’s of vital importance that you don’t abuse the group’s feed with promotional and brand-focused content . Rather, look at it as a community of individuals who are probably your ideal target audience, in the strictest sense of the word, and who you can pamper with resources and informational content.
It’s really easy for brands to fall into the trap of focusing on branded content that feels too salesy and promotional. And that’s a shame because you want to give your followers something that’s also fun or informational.
If you’re guilty as charged, try to think about producing content that’s of real value to your audience. If you offer them something that they already want, there’s a real chance that you’ll see more of them liking and interacting with your posts – and both things will boost your organic reach.
Organic Post Targeting
Targeting is one of the perks of modern-day marketing, and it has made all the difference. But do we use its full potential? With paid ads, we probably do – if not, we soon learn what works and what doesn’t through A/B testing. But some platforms allow you to target your organic posts (like for example Facebook) which allows you to get specific types of content in front of the audience who is likely to interact with it the most. Use this to your advantage.
Hashtags for Organic Reach on Social Media
On some networks, like Twitter and Instagram, using hashtags is a must – it’s basically part of these networks’ etiquette.
On Instagram for example, users have the ability to follow a particular hashtag feed – which can get your content in front of an audience that isn’t necessarily familiar with your brand, but an audience that’s most definitely in your target market.
However, it’s obvious when brands use hashtags just for the sake of it – so research, and use hashtags that are relevant and meaningful to your content output. If you want to learn more about it, head on over to our guide on how to use hashtags on social media.
Don’t Forget About Engagement
Big engagement rates will always go hand in hand with even more organic reach – as social algorithms view engagement as a good indicator for quality content.
If you manage to build the reputation of a business that takes care of and engages with its followers, you’ll notice more reach and you’ll have an easier time converting all that traffic into leads and ultimately customers.
You see, organic reach is not some abstract concept – it’s vital and it’s real and it has everything to do with getting followers to trust your brand and interact with it.
Organic reach is a step along the way, not the end goal. So respect and pamper your followers once you get them interested, and there will be some immediate benefits.
Facebook’s algorithm, for example, boosts your posts on the feeds of followers who you’ve interacted with – and that’s just one example on how big a factor engagement is for organic reach on social media.
If you want to learn more about the importance of social media engagement, check out our article on the subject.
How to Optimize for Social Media Search Bars
A little bit of extra SEO never hurt anybody – even on social media. In order to make it easier for social media users to find your page when they’re searching for a keyword related to your niche, it’s always a good idea to optimize your profile.
- The Facebook search bar ranks pages that have the desired keyword in their brand name or listed as a subcategory.
- On Twitter, you can mention brand-owned hashtags in your bio (but don’t include generic hashtags, as that will lead followers away from your page).
- Your page/bio descriptions should be keyword-rich but still sound natural – don’t stuff keywords!
Boost Your Best-Performing Content With Paid Ads
One of the most cost-effective ways of using ads is to use them to boost organic posts that have performed really well in the past. Don’t bother with posts that didn’t hit it with your audience in the first place – you’ll be wasting your money. Rather, sponsor only the best content so it can reach an even larger audience.
We’ve already established that going the influencer way can give you some serious exposure, not to mention that it can help potential leads warm up to your content, services or products.
Well, let us tell you, it makes a lot of sense for improving your organic visibility as well. Tagging/mentioning the people and brands you collaborate with is one amazing shortcut to more exposure, i.e. organic reach.
Produce Content Consistently
At the end of the day, no matter how great you are at producing quality content, consistency will always be one of the major factors in building a robust social media presence.
Don’t make your social posting an afterthought – do it with the attention and persistence it deserves. Maintain a social media content calendar, and learn how to schedule and repurpose your content to get the most out of it. Social media posting and scheduling tools like Amplifr can be a life-saver here, so explore how you can incorporate them in your current content production process.
Sign up to Amplifr to create a content schedule for all your social media accounts and receive stats on reach, impressions, and engagement
Over and Out!
Last but not least, don’t forget that social media are one of the most effective ways to drive organic traffic to your website. And if your website is the end of your funnel (well, and the products or services there) you should think about the big picture and focus on how to get a higher click-through rate once you do get people reaching your social page organically.
Let’s conclude with that and leave you to soak in all the information above and brainstorm ways you can fit them in your content marketing. We hope all the actionable tips will give you inspiration for your next organic social media campaigns.
Until then, stay tuned for more handy guides, and check out the other resources available on the Amplifr blog.