The truth about organic reach on Facebook in 2014

A little over a month ago, this article from TIME caused an uproar in digital marketing offices worldwide, “The Free-Marketing Gravy Train Is Over on Facebook.” Facebook said that the organic reach of business pages would diminish and that brands should pay to boost their posts. Now that we’ve been working under this new organic reach algorithm for a little more than a month, what’s the real impact?

In late 2007, Facebook launched Business Pages. For the first time, businesses were able to connect with their customers on social media. This was a breakthrough in business marketing. As users devoted more time to social media, businesses were able to connect with users in a way that felt more personal. And the best part about Facebook Pages was that they were free to create and update. It almost seemed too good to be true.

As Facebook has continued to grow and become the most visited website in the world, they must make changes to stay relevant. They are always tweaking the algorithm that determines which posts appear on a user’s newsfeed. Their research that they have released indicates that the more relevant posts a user sees, the longer they stay on Facebook. And longer Facebook activity often translates into more clicks on advertising and sponsored posts.

Now that we are over a month in, we can see what’s really happening. Nike has said that their organic reach has dropped to 1-2% of their 17million page audience. But with an organic reach of at least 170,000, Nike’s posts are still seen by more people than “like” the average business page. So what has the impact been on small to mid-sized businesses that typically have audiences of less than 50,000?

After analyzing post stats from the past month, there are a couple of trends that are obvious:
1. Pages with fewer than 10,000 are seeing an organic reach of about 10%
2. The more likes a post receives, the greater its organic reach. Posts that have likes from 2% of the page’s audience have reached over 50% of the page.
3. Photos and links with header photos are receiving more engagement than they did before.
4. Pages that post daily have a more active audience and see greater organic reach.

These results are incredible news for small to mid-sized businesses that rely on Facebook for marketing. We now know that the sky is not falling and that posts are still seen by people who are most involved with the page.

While the days of being able to post a simple snippet like “Come see the new items we have in our store” are gone. Today’s Facebook user is more attached to the brands they connect with. This connection can lead to increased sales and increased word of mouth advertising. So the few extra minutes you spend crafting your Facebook posts today can pay increased dividends.

This is the first part in our Facebook for Small to Mid-Sized businesses series. Future posts will cover paid advertising options, growing your Facebook audience, Facebook contests, and more.