What is your Reach on Facebook? (Any why you shouldn’t care)

A client contacted me this morning, upset because her “reach” seems to be  seriously declining on Facebook. For some reason Facebook chooses Reach to be the metric graphed on the insights page, and it’s little understood, so here’s the long and the short of it.

Facebook Reach

 Here’s how Facebook defines reach
“The reach chart shows how many people have seen any content about your Page, and where applicable, whether these people were reached through an organic, paid or viral channel. People might see your content through more than one of these channels. As a result, the sum of your organic, paid and viral reach might be larger than your total Page reach.

  • Organic reach is the number of unique people, fans or non-fans, who saw any content about your Page in their News Feed, Ticker or on your Page.
  •  Paid reach is the number of unique people who saw an ad or Sponsored Story that pointed to your Page.
  •  Viral reach is the number of unique people who saw this post from a story published by a friend.”

The problem is, the “reach” graph in your Facebook Insights combines all 3, Paid, Viral and Organic reach. So let’s say you run some “story” ads. The reach from those ads is included in your overall reach. When your ads reach your set funds limit or you quit running ads, your reach may drop significantly.

Another consideration is how the metrics of each individual fan affects the reach too
For example; if you have 10 fans who each have 100 friends then their reach is considerably lower than another page with 3 fans who each have 1,000 fans. So basically if you want to inflate your “reach” you just have to attract fans with big friends lists. Even if they don’t engage, your reach goes up. How bogus is that?

 Basically reach doesn’t have a whole lot to do with how effective you are at engaging your fans 
As you can see from the chart above, not only are they getting more engagement on this page, and the page reach (5,636,087) is increasing slightly AND the “people talking about this” is awesome, all the client sees at first glance is that downhill slump of the reach. To me it seems like a marketing ploy to put the reach as the one big graph in your “insights” tab and not the “people talking about” tab.

Why am I suspicious?
Isn’t it interesting that so many people are complaining about their reach dropping and Facebook coes out with the “Reach Generator”? This little tool is available only to “qualified accounts” who are then guaranteed that their content will be seen by 75% of their fan base. Not the paltry 16% that most pages get on a good day, but 75%!!

Wow. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could all get that?

This is from the Facebook doc on the reach generator. Download it here.

Benefit of Reach generator

Unless you’re a big brand I’m guessing you can’t afford to pay to have this much showing, so you’d better think about how to really engage people.

Bottom line?
Quit worrying about reach and worry instead about engagement. I’ll be writing a post about how to get real engagement from your fan base later this week, so stay tuned for that, but really, forget about reach. It means very little.

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  • http://www.rosemcgrory.co.uk/ Kate, RM Social Media

    Great analysis, and absolutely spot on I reckon! This one’s going in next week’s “great content” tweet list…

  • Anonymous

    Thank you for sharing this (though it is probably ironic that I liked this on FB). I really had no understanding of that board. Now I don’t have numbers anything like your example but it is still good to better appreciate what I’m looking at.

  • http://www.rackmountsales.com/Cat5_KVM_Switches_s/56.htm KVM Switches

    Seriously this post gave me some great ideas that I can
    implement right away. I especially like the idea of creating a facebook landing
    page and asking for a like in return for a free gift. I am going to feature
    this post


  • http://twitter.com/berlinbonez Mercurius

    Still think FB isn´t being fair here – you pay to get likes on a page and then have to pay again to get seen by your own fans – with the content that you are providing (at more than a slight cost in terms of time/money) for free??? Kinda makes me unhappy :(

  • http://www.facebook.com/bgualta Robert Gualta

    Great article! My suspicions were right. I also share the belief that Facebook wants page admins to try their paid services.

    Recently, I adjusted our post content and looking at the trend, I was so concerned because our page reach is declining despite the fact that our PTAT, Engaged Users, Page Consumption and Fans has increased tremendously, versus the previous month. Even our negative feedback has gone down.

    With your article, I think we are heading in the direction.

    Thank you so much!

  • http://janetfouts.com Janet Fouts

    More on brand visibility on Facebook from a study found on AdAge http://adage.com/article/digital/study-reach-organic-facebook-posts-engagement/238365/

  • http://www.facebook.com/christophercben Christopher Chris Benoit

    Great stuff discussed here and even have motivated me to work more better on fb. I don’t understand much about the facebook reach and likes. But now I am bit good and have understand the thing. Thanks for sharing this and eagerly waiting for your latest updates.

  • pallab

    many thanks for the details as it gave me the answers I was so desperately looking for with relate to understand the drip in “Reach” –

  • Pain in the behind

    I am so confused. I just want to see how many hits my page gets. I am a total nerd but “Help” refers to things that I do not see on my page.

  • http://michellerodriguezfan.com/ Mary McIntyre

    Question here: How does “reach” also affect the website being promoted in a post?

  • Rachel

    Thanks Janet – looking forward to hearing more detail around Engagement measurement and how to increase engagement!

  • Gob

    Well reach is very important let me tell you why. When i used to post anything on my page with my links i use to get 300 hits to the link and more than 1,000 likes per post. Now im getting less than 20 hits to the link per post and less than 100 likes. My page likes are over 30,000 now when i was having 300 clicks to link per post i used to have less than 12,000 fans. My reach has dropped from more than 100,000 per week to 40,000 so if you make the math you will see a direct relation between lower reach=lower audience. And it all started when facebook started pushing the new page design that make it harder for you to keep up with the people and easier to invest money. Its obvious, the fat cat want to get fatter. So i recommend people start using other means of promoting their small business because Facebook is no longer good for small business with less money. I recommend every one to start using google + its free and it is the same thing as facebook. Soon it will become very popular 2 so stop competing with companies that can spend thousands every day on facebook campaigns because you will lose a lot of money.

  • Alison

    I agree with Gob, we have almost 17,000 fans on page, our posts were reaching almost 3000 to 4000 users. Now this has dropped to around 300 to 400 which in turn has seriously affected our traffic into our website resulting in a decrease of sales. A 90% reduction so I don’t know how you can state that reach shouldn’t matter engagement does. How can you engage if you don’t get the reach. Facebook are there to generate profit at the expense of the small business, unless you are willing to boost your posts and increase revenue to them, this is not a medium now for having a business page. Boosting your post does not guarantee you anything other than the fact, Facebook can say they have sent your post to the number of fans you paid for, no way to verify this that these people have even seen your post.

    Google plus is probably the way to go in the future but it won’t be long before millions of small businesses around the world pull away from Facebook, only then will they realise that they should have looked after the small fish and helped them grow which would have generated more money for them in the long run, rather than make a quick buck in the short term.

  • BSM

    I have been experiencing the same issues expressed here. I just sent feedback to facebook on this, but I doubt anything will come out of it. Here is the exact wording:

    I am an up and coming musician trying to use my page to reach fans of my music. I have used paid advertising in the past, several times. Lately, I have been only reaching 3 to 50 out of 1740 fans of my music with my posts. I know you are trying to limit exposure of people to things they may not be interested in, but I would argue that these are people who voluntarily signed up to receive my updates, and updates with links to my music is very vital to my mission. I don’t spam, only update once a day or every other day, so this is becoming ridiculous. I know you guys would rather that I pay for this service, but if this continues, I may have to just find another service that would offer me better organic fan access. Why not let the fans themselves decide what they would like or not by voting with their likes instead of this heavy handed algorithm you have?

  • Pingback: Facebook’s Declining Organic Reach and What it Means | Penscriptive()

  • Leslie Siegel

    Why don’t they just do like Statcounter.com and show who and where the “organic stat” is coming from so I can see who it is, family or friends, or bullies, or whatever.

  • Leslie Siegel

    I can see what it’s about now see all the hits on some, and they may even be me hitting it from another site? https://www.facebook.com/LeslieSiegelWriter Am I right?

  • Jottar

    Reach for organic business and fan pages is an absolute shocker now on facebook and if everybody stood up to facebook and took their business elsewhere I’m they would have rethink things. Maybe its time to check out http://www.jottar.com who does not charge a cent for posts to reach their fans in the newsfeed.

  • kenmcentee

    Maybe I am still not getting it. My page has almost 8,000 Likes, many of
    which are the result of an ad that I paid Facebook to run. Yet my posts
    are getting “reaches” of 40 or less. When I built up my Likes, my
    intention was to reach everybody who likes my page with my posts.
    Otherwise, what’s the point? Reaching 40 people with a post when I have
    8,000 people Liking my page isn’t going to cut it. Am I misunderstanding

  • kenmcentee

    Let me clarify my last post. The “40” represents this new thing, apparently, that Facebook calls, “This post was served to….” Again, I invested with Facebook to build an audience of 8,000 for my page, and my posts are being “served” to 40 people?

  • Guillermo Lamphar

    You do not need to focus in reach but interaction. They way News Feed works is, everytime you publish something Facebook prints it in a base number of user’s NEws Feed, THEN and ONLY IF a user ‘interacts’ with your content Facebook declares your content meaningful for users and then prints it in several others News Feed and so on. You need people to interact with your content and make them share it themselves.
    I work doing this, if you need a service feel free to contact me.

  • mahmoud gamal

    actually i need your help in this

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