Organic Reach: more than meets the eye

I often hear people complaining about low organic reach and how only the most engaged fans can be reached without using paid media support.

This isn’t quite true. Facebook defines organic reach as:

“People who visited your Page, or saw your Page or one of its posts in news feed or ticker. These can be people who have liked your Page and people who haven’t.”

So organic reach is your most engaged fans, but it is also so much more. Because it also include anyone who sees your content because it has been shared with them – most likely by one of your engaged fans.

This means organic reach is actually made up of two different audiences – your most engaged fans, and their friends – which puts a whole new perspective on how you define audiences on Facebook.

Your page actually has five different audiences, only two of which can be reached organically.

Organic audiences:

  • 1.  Engaged Fans: these are people who regularly engage with you.
  • 2.  Friends of Engaged Fans: people who frequently see your content, and interact with it, because it is shared with them by an engaged fan.

Paid audiences:

  • 3. Unengaged Fans: these people like your page but through lack of engagement no longer see any content from you.
  • 4. Unengaged Friends of Fans: these people have no connection with you, but ads with social context may predispose them to engage with you
  • 5. Everyone Else: this group may be in your target audience, but have no connection with your page.
FiveAudiencesDiagram

Five Audiences of Facebook – http://www.digitalprltd.wordpress.com 2014

Pages that use competitions to grow their fanbases often have a higher proportion of Unengaged Fans than those that build a following through the quality of their content .

Thinking about audiences in this way provides some useful insights into how and when to support posts with paid media:

  1. If your objective is engagement rate, there is no need to invest in paid media. Invest in great content that your engaged fans will share (intentionally or through the way they interact)
  2. If you are happy with your engagement rate but want more people to engage, then use paid media to extend reach to Fans and Friends of Fans.
  3. If you want to grow your fanbase, then:
    1. Leverage ads with social context by targeting Friends of Fans. Facebook tells you which of your friends already like that page regardless of how engaged they are with it.
    2. Target Everyone Else, but use targeting features to narrow it down to those most likely to engage with your page.

Supporting your page doesn’t have to cost a lot if you put some thought into which pieces of content to promote to which audience, and use some of the tips and tricks discussed in my last blog post to use the halo effect from paid advertising to your advantage.