Facebook Fanpages: Why We’re All Wrong About Organic Reach

Recently Jon Loomer published a great post about organic reach on Facebook. In this post he carefully explains why organic reach of Facebook Pages is NOT dead. Never was.

Facebook is concentrating on giving your content to the people most likely to enjoy it and interact with it. Jon explains the relation between organic reach and content in a lot of detail and I urge you to read his original post – it’s a brilliant post. But anyway, here are my two cents.

Jon is right of course – but maybe he doesn’t go far enough. When we are talking about organic reach on Facebook, isn’t it a slightly limited point of view to just talk about Fanpages?

Facebook is in many ways a condensed version of what the real world society is like. Word of mouth marketing existed long before Facebook and long before Social Media in general. But word of mouth marketing back then didn’t happen in the store of a brand. It happened when you showed off your shiny new iPod to your friends.

With organic reach it’s the same thing: It doesn’t just exist on Fanpages. It happens everywhere on Facebook.

Let me give you an example of what I mean: Maybe you decide to share this post on Facebook. A couple of your friends will click on the post and read it. That is organic reach how I see it.

When we are complaining about declining organic reach on Facebook we assume that the primary goal of Fanpages for companies is to drive traffic. But we drive a lot of traffic through Facebook already.

For Me This Changes Everything!

When you look at it this way, you might view Facebook Fanpages in a slightly different light.

Facebook already is a place where people can talk about your content. If someone does like this article, the fanpage of The Social Ms doesn’t simply provide us a way to fire a constant stream of more content at him. Instead, it gives him a way to stay in touch with us.

A Facebook Fanpage is the digital equivalent of the cafe inside a shopping mall: If people like the shops in the mall, a nice and cosy cafe will give them another reason to go there. If you don’t need or want to go to the shops you won’t go to the cafe either.

When you look at the performance of your Facebook Fanpage you should keep that in mind. When your Facebook Fanpage isn’t driving traffic to your site, maybe what you should look at first is whether you are getting traffic to your page from Facebook at all?

Because when you are not getting traffic from Facebook anyway, why should you get more traffic from your Fanpage. When your Facebook audience doesn’t like your content why should they see it?

Facebook isn’t a one-stop-solution for all your traffic and conversion problems. It was never intended to be. Facebook doesn’t owe you traffic – but they are pretty damn willing to give you traffic when your content interacts with your audience.

Who Needs a Facebook Fanpage Anyway?

Does every business need a Facebook presence? Maybe not.

When you decide to go the Facebook route you need to optimize your content for Facebook and even more important for your audience on Facebook. And by optimization, I don’t mean a simple optimization like posting images.

What you need is content that relates to your target audience.

And actually I don’t think that the form of the content matters as much as people like to believe: When your article works well with your target audience, you will drive traffic from Facebook – whether you post the link next to an image or not. Of course, the amount of traffic will vary – and I won’t claim the form of the post doesn’t matter at all. But it doesn’t matter as much as you think.

That also means that real optimization on Facebook is a lot harder to achieve than many people claim. Because creating quality content that really relates to your audience is a lot harder to achieve.

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So whether you decide to go the Facebook route or not is entirely up to you. But when you want to achieve success on Facebook you also need to go the optimization route.

Facebook Fanpages are not the fast way to success. But they can be worth it.

So, What’s the Takeaway from this Post?

Ok, maybe this post didn’t have that much actionable insight until now. Sorry. But let me try to turn this into advice you can use – here is what I hope you will learn from this post:

  • Facebook Fanpages are not the only source of traffic from Facebook
  • When your content doesn’t drive traffic from Facebook at all, why should it drive traffic from a Fanpage?
  • You should measure your content performance on Facebook in general, not Fanpage specific
  • Your Facebook Fanpage is not equivalent to a newsletter
  • Not every business absolutely needs a Fanpage – but when you want a Fanpage to perform well – you need your content to relate to your audience on Facebook!

What do you think? Does this make sense – or do you believe that Facebook owes you to reach all your fans with every post on your Fanpage?

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When we are complaining about declining organic reach on Facebook Fanpages we misunderstand the concept of organic reach. facebook marketing

  • http://www.browsermedia.co.uk/ Libby Bearman

    Recently had a similar discussion in the office after seeing that an unsigned band has a petition to abolish the rising costs of reaching out to fans and followers on Facebook (goo.gl/RlQvDM). If the plan for Facebook was always to monetise, I’m not sure how much of an argument the band has, but as far as user experience goes, I can’t think of anything that would put me off a Fanpage quicker than for them to “fire a constant stream of content” at me! As you say, I’d rather think of it as a way to stay in touch.

    Ultimately, there’s still a strong argument for businesses to use a Facebook Fanpage. It’s always been a great way to reach out, but now it costs money to reach further. If content is being shown ‘organically’ to people most likely to engage, surely that’s a positive? it encourages brands, bands and businesses to spend time ensuring what they’re posting is worthwhile.

  • There are different reasons for using FB fan pages. Don’t forget you need not have to sell right away your product. You can engage really good content that gets tons of reach related to your niche. For example I’m currently running smo on a clients site about nootropics (Cognitive Enhancers) supplements.

    I’m posting interesting facts about the mind and brain and use “social triggers” to entice them. Then use the 80/20 post 20 percent promotion 80 percent promoting other stuff. Try also going to other pages in your niche with tons of likes. Find a post that got tons of shares and post something to complement that post. I was able to get 20 -23 likes on an average in a few days for a brand new business page. This doesn’t include funneling people from the profile account, other channels or any paid FB ads. Still a noob at social media marketing still testing and FB is a tough cookie that’s teeth shattering. Anyways nice read!

  • http://brothertonyo.com/ Brother Tony O

    With the massive amount of content being pumped through social media, one of the biggest challenges companies like Facebook have to deal with is ensuring the best possible experience for the overall community. There are definitely some serious flaws with how Facebook determines what to show me but with “optimizers” continually looking for shortcuts to cash in on beating the system, tough choices have to be made.

    The truth is that serious businesses budget for marketing and expect to pay for it. So, no matter how annoyed I am that I have to pay to get my message shown to people who have essentially “opted-in” by liking my page, there really isn’t much else that can be done due to those who want to cheapen user experience and lessen genuine engagement through automated tools and chasing gimmicks. Bottom line, we need to encourage page administrators to “be real”… integrity is attractive.

  • Rob James

    We have had success in increasing the volume of traffic that comes to our site via Facebook, despite having a limited reach and little to no interaction with our content via the Fan Page. Simply by interacting with others within the industry we have increased traffic and sales too.

    • Justin Rifica Douglas

      Good advice

  • http://www.chuckbartok.com Chuck Bartok

    All of our effective pages on Facebook receive huge organic engagement.
    This week one post, on page of 3,300 likes) had 8,750 Organic like, 270 shares and the post elicited 69 comment all within 24 hours.
    The previous post enjoyed 14,256 Organic reach 471 shares, and comments were 95.
    One before, that last week, 27,580 Organic, 1,000 shares and had 356 comments.
    From the Facebook page website enjoyed 46,740 page views in past 7 days.
    WE attribute the results to quality content targeted to narrow niche.
    We also modestly Boost Posts…no exotic ads