The Facebook reach debate

The Facebook reach debate

Facebook’s ever-changing algorithm and advertising guidelines are causing a stir again. This time, the debate centers on Facebook’s control over the number of people Pages reach.

Facebook Page managers have seen organic reach for their posts plummet over the past few months. Through last December, it was common for posts to reach a fraction – typically in the 12-20 percent range – of a Page’s audience due to Facebook’s News Feed algorithm. Now Page managers are reporting that as few as six percent of a Page’s audience see any given post. Page managers can pay to promote (or “boost” in Facebook lingo) posts to increase their reach.

New York Times columnist Nick Bilton asserts that while Facebook increases the reach of links he pays to promote, Facebook suppresses the reach of posts he doesn’t pay to boost.

Facebook denies claims that it suppresses organic distribution of posts and it is still finding the right balance for its algorithm. Furthermore, in a statement published on, Facebook said the News Feed algorithm is separate from the advertising algorithm.

How can Page managers combat the ever-declining reach of their posts? Here are five tips that can help:

1. Optimize your content. Likes and comments on posts can increase your reach, but now Facebook is placing weight on “shares” in its algorithm. Post content that people want to share and ask them to “share” it. A “share” is an implied endorsement and adds credibility to your Page, which can lead to more views and more Page likes.

2. Build your fan base and empower them to spread your message. Word of mouth remains a trusted source for information. Utilize tactics like a referral campaign or contest to increase your reach. Use a branded, conversational hashtag that will catch on among your fans. We had great success with fans and media using #ValsparChampionship for this year’s Valspar Championship PGA TOUR tournament.

3. Diversify your channels. Consider Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+, which are all growing faster than Facebook. Pinterest and Instagram might be good choices for your brand, especially if your organization is visually-oriented.

4. Monitor consistently and refresh as necessary. Review your content frequently to see which posts receive the most organic reach. Alter your content as necessary based on the content that gets the most interaction. Monitor engagement and respond to comments, like and comment on posts to your Page. Let people know you notice and appreciate their interaction.

5. Boost content when appropriate. Boost posts and run ads every once in a while. It is a relatively inexpensive marketing tool that can have strong ROI. Keep in mind that ads and boosted posts with images cannot contain more than 20 percent text in the image. Check how much text your images contain with this grid tool to see if your image has an allowable amount of text.

The bottom line – business owners and managers are at the mercy of the social media platform that they’re using. Stay on top of social media platform changes to have the ability to pivot your approach when needed. Your company website should remain at the center of your digital strategy as a platform you entirely control.