The Death of Organic Reach: Resurrecting Your Social Media Strategy
As organic reach continues to decline, it’s becoming more difficult to connect with your target audience and achieve desired results without investing in paid social media advertising.
In other words, it’s getting tougher to get your message out there without shelling out some cash for ads.
You might even be asking, “What’s even the point of posting on my Page anymore?”
At TrafficSoda, we’re here to help you navigate this new reality and make the most of your social media marketing efforts, organic and paid. So, let’s roll up our sleeves and dive into the tips and insights that’ll help your brand stay strong in this social media jungle.
- The Rise and Fall of Organic Reach on Facebook, Instagram & More
- Why Exactly is Organic Reach Declining?
- TikTok: A Temporary Exception?
- How Small to Mid-Size Businesses Can Adapt to Declining Organic Reach
- The Necessity of Paid Promotion for Social Media Visibility
- Boosting Posts with a Purpose
- Finding Your Brand’s Optimal Posting Frequency
- Is Organic Social Still Relevent?
- Social Media is a Search Engine
- Your Customers Are Commenting
- Social Media Benefits SEO
- Social Media is Social Proof
The Rise and Fall of Organic Reach on Facebook, Instagram & More
Organic reach refers to the number of unique individuals who catch a glimpse of your posts on social platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or LinkedIn.
Reach is different from impressions, which count the total number of times your content is viewed, including multiple views by the same person. Organic reach only counts unique views.
Organic reach is one of those content KPIs that really matter when you’re trying to measure how well you’re really reaching your target audience. Reach affects all of your other engagement-related data such as likes, clicks, and follows — because if you want people to engage with your content, you have to reach them first.
Despite its importance, reach is a moving target.
For one, reach data has always been, at best, an estimate, because a post showing up on someone’s social media feed doesn’t guarantee they’ve seen it.
Plus, most major social media platforms use an algorithm to determine what shows up on any given user’s feed — and aren’t fully transparent about how, exactly, those algorithms work.
Above: Facebook’s official explanation of their ranking system. Not exactly an open book.
What we do have is historical data showing that, as early as 2013, organic reach has been dropping for businesses.
Back in 2017, researchers found that Facebook Page engagements dropped 20%, and by early 2018, more than half of marketers noticed their page’s organic reach going down the drain.
These days, the average organic reach for a post on a Facebook Page is about 5.20%. So, roughly one in every 19 fans will see your non-promoted content
For businesses that use Facebook as their go-to social platform, this decline in organic reach is alarming, because it means your posts aren’t showing up in your followers’ feeds as much as they used to.
But Why Exactly is Organic Reach Declining?
Simple: Platforms are constantly tinkering with their algorithms to try to increase user satisfaction and ROI.
For Facebook, that has meant making sure users see more posts from their friends and family, and less from people trying to sell them stuff (unless, of course, you’re paying Facebook to advertise!)
Over on Twitter, it means boosting paid subscribers and “suggested” Tweets.
Every platform is different, but the bottom line is essentially the same.
Social media platforms are just businesses, and their customers are advertisers. They’re all about making users happy, because that’s what keeps people logging in, which keeps advertisers happy.
In theory, that should help businesses, too — because if people are interacting with the content in their feed, they’ll be more likely to engage with posts from businesses too.
But it also means that, as a business, you will have a hard time getting your posts into their feeds in the first place.
TikTok as a Temporary Exception
In the ever-evolving world of social media, TikTok stands out as a temporary exception to the trend of declining organic reach.
The average organic reach for brands on TikTok is a staggering 118%, compared to Facebook’s 5.2%.
By investing your time in creating engaging content for your TikTok account, you can achieve decent brand exposure and visibility, even with a relatively small following.
But there’s a catch: recent bans of TikTok on U.S. government-owned devices, coupled with new legislation in Congress seeking to block the app, have fueled expectations that the popular Chinese-owned platform could soon face a nationwide ban.
The exact implementation of such a ban remains unclear, but if history is any guide, a prohibition is unlikely to take effect anytime soon. TikTok is likely to challenge any attempt to ban the app, as it was ultimately successful in quashing Trump’s effort to ban the app, but the uncertainty surrounding the future of the platform makes it a risky investment.
We recommend investing in TikTok only for short-term campaigns at this point, but avoiding hinging too much of your social media marketing funnel on it.
In the meantime, keep an eye on the situation and adapt your strategies accordingly, all while maintaining a candid, genuine, and occasionally funny approach that resonates with your audience.
How Small to Mid-Size Businesses Can Adapt to Declining Organic Reach
As organic reach keeps shrinking, it’s getting harder to have your content seen by your target audience.
That means fewer likes, comments, and shares — and yeah, that’s a bummer for visibility. Especially if you’ve put in a ton of time and effort crafting awesome content for social media, only to have it reach fewer people.
The truth is, the decline in organic reach isn’t merely a rough patch – it’s a deliberate design that shows no signs of reversing.
Sure, organic posts give your page a pulse, but expecting significant reach, likes, or follows without investing in paid promotion is nigh impossible.
As marketers, we all have to face the reality and adjust their expectations accordingly.
- Want more eyeballs on your content? Pay for views via boosted posts and celebrate the reach.
- Looking for clicks to your website? That’s a separate goal requiring a different paid campaign.
- The same goes for form fills, page likes, and any other objectives. You won’t get meaningful results from organic posting alone.
Yes, social channels remain an excellent arena for businesses to engage with customers and prospects—and it’s crucial to maintain a presence on these platforms to receive and respond to user communications. However, the era of free, widespread distribution of your content on platforms like Facebook and Instagram is long gone (with TikTok being a temporary exception while it remains in the “honeymoon” phase.)
The outdated “post-it and they will come” approach is no longer effective unless you’re willing to pay for your content to be seen.
a) The Necessity of Paid Promotion for Social Media Visibility
To make the most of your social media efforts, invest in paid social media with clearly defined goals and measurable outcomes. This strategy will not only save you time but also save you from having to bombard your followers with “free” organic posts that yield little to no results.
Unlike disruptive display ads, pop-ups, and video commercials, social media ads are crafted to integrate seamlessly with the platform, often resembling organic posts. The ads are quick to launch and start getting attention right away, so you can see results just as quickly.
While it may seem easy to set up, using social media ads effectively takes a strategic approach. Don’t let the complexity of this task hold you back from reaching your desired audience and generating leads. Partner with our expert agency and take your social media campaigns to the next level.
b) Boosting Posts with a Purpose
If you want to gets started with social media ads right away, boosted posts are the fastest way to do it.
A boosted post is a post from your Page’s timeline that you can promote in order to reach a wider audience. It lets you quickly transform an existing, organic piece of content into a paid ad, extending your reach beyond your current audience.
Once it’s done, you can manage and see results for boosted posts in Ads Manager just like other ads. You shouldn’t think of them as a separate thing—boosted posts are really just ads that you make from your Page instead of the advertising tool.
With that in mind, you’ll want to put the same forethought behind boosted posts as you do other social media ads. Don’t put money behind a post just because Facebook suggests it! Facebook just wants you to boost as many posts as possible. Stick to your strategy.
To make the most of your advertising budget, you need to boost posts strategically as part of a broader social media strategy. Our team of experts can help you develop a social media strategy that ensures that every boost counts towards your overall goals.
c) Finding Your Brand’s Optimal Posting Frequency
While posting at a specific time of day isn’t as important as it used to be (because social media feeds rarely operate chronologically), how often you post can have an impact. And as organic reach continues to drop, every bit counts.
One study found that 74% of consumers believe that the ideal posting frequency for brands is 1-2 times per day. However, each platform’s algorithm is different, so more frequent posting might not necessarily be detrimental.
The key to striking the right balance is to focus on creating high-quality content that supports your overall social media marketing strategy. Instead of overwhelming your audience with a large volume of low-quality posts, invest in crafting engaging and relevant content that resonates with your target audience.
Is Organic Social Still Relevant?
In light of declining reach, organic social media isn’t entirely dead–but it plays a different role now.
Here’s the truth: even with the decline in reach, maintaining organic social media posting still makes sense for many businesses.
- Social media is not only a billboard, but also a search engine, with 82% of consumers preferring searching on social media over Google.
- Being active on social media and responding to customers and potential clients builds relationships, fosters trust and loyalty, and generates more leads, sales, and revenue.
- Embracing social media can greatly enhance your SEO efforts by making a brand more visible in search results and dominating branded keywords.
- Social media comments and reviews are a powerful form of social proof, with 54% of users researching products and brands on social media.
Let’s quickly delve into organic social’s new life in the post-reach world.
1. Social Media is a Search Engine
Social media is no longer just for posting pictures of your lunch or sharing memes; it’s become a search engine for millions of consumers looking for products and services like yours.
In fact, an online survey recently found that 82% of consumers prefer social media for searching over traditional search engines. Of those, 55% cite Instagram as their top platform for social media searches, followed by YouTube (54%), Facebook (51%), and Twitter (44%).
Even TikTok, while ranking last in popularity as a search engine (42%), is attracting a core user base of young, affluent consumers (so if that’s your target audience, you should be there!)
When people search for your business on social media, they want to see an active and vibrant presence. Think of your social media profile like a storefront — if it looks neglected and uninviting, potential customers will just keep walking. Having a dead social profile is like papering over your store window.
So, keep your social media up-to-date and alive with organic posts to show customers that your business is alive and kicking! Otherwise, you’ll lose out on business from searchers who might otherwise give you a phone call.
2. Your Customers Are Calling (and DMing)
More and more customers prefer to communicate through social media rather than traditional channels like phone or email. If your business has a social media presence, customers will expect you to be reachable and responsive, and ignoring them could lead to negative consequences.
If you’re already swamped with leads and customers, social media may not be your top concern. However, if you want to attract more business, you don’t want to leave customers hanging on social media.
When you engage with your audience on social media by responding to their queries and feedback, you show them that you care about their opinion and are open to communication. This builds a sense of trust and loyalty, ultimately leading to more leads, sales, and revenue for your business.
So, it’s not just about being active on social media, but being responsive. That’s what builds meaningful connections, and connections turn strangers into customers.
3. Social Media Benefits SEO
When people search for your business on Google or other search engines, having a strong social media presence can make all the difference.
Social media profiles often appear right below your website in search results for branded keywords, giving you the chance to capture even more attention and dominate the first page.
Plus, with Google indexing tweets and other social media posts, your content can show up in search results for relevant queries, driving even more free traffic to your website.
Your social media profiles can also have an impact on local SEO. Google checks your social media accounts to confirm your business’s legitimacy through your name, address, and phone number. This information must be accurate, since Google examines all listings to verify that contact details are correct.
If the information is inconsistent, it may hurt your visibility in local searches, so keep your profiles up to date!
4. Social Media is Social Proof
Social proof is key in building trust with your audience, especially if you’re offering high-value products or services (and that includes all you B2B firms.)
In fact, a staggering 54% of social media users research products and brands on social platforms, highlighting the importance of showcasing your brand’s credibility through reviews, testimonials, statistics, and awards.
And it’s not just about what you offer. Many customers also want to know about your company’s values and practices — things like how you treat your employees and customers, your stance on social issues, and your contributions to your community can all impact their decision to do business with you.
Sharing posts about your community involvement, sustainable practices, and employee testimonials will help you build a compelling narrative.
Social media also offers an excellent platform for showcasing social proof through user-generated content, reviews, and testimonials. Sharing your customers’ positive experiences and tagging your business can amplify their positive feedback and foster a sense of community for your brand.
How to Bring Your Social Media Strategy Back to Life
Paid advertising allows you to reach your ideal audience at the right time, while organic social media remains relevant in fostering trust, loyalty, and stronger relationships with your audience.
It’s essential to strike a balance and get creative with your approach, making the most of every opportunity to engage your audience.
At TrafficSoda, we’re committed to helping you navigate these changes and maximize the potential of your social media marketing efforts. If you’re looking for expert guidance on how to make your brand stand out in this social media jungle, don’t hesitate to reach out to us. Together, we can create a winning social media strategy that drives results.