Facebook Reach & Engagement Are Becoming The Same Thing
I have been observing a Facebook wide trend where post reach is decreasing while engagement is increasing. This trend was once interesting but has recently become startling. You see, posts are only being seen by those who are most likely to interact with them. Eventually, Facebook will only show your content to people who are fairly sure to like, share or comment on it. The problem is these users represent a very small part of your audience.
The Back Story
Up until about a year ago, when a Facebook page made a post, a substantial portion of their audience saw it. How much of that audience was determined primarily by how engaging the post was, and how engaged the audience has historically been. Facebook’s Edgerank algorithm worked to juggle a number of complex variables in real time to determine who saw what content.
Same Ingredients – Different Portions
Fast forward to today and essentially the same thing is still going on, but with one big difference. Facebook is dialing back the amount of reach that every post receives, A LOT. More engaging content still gets more reach, but it’s drastically less than it once was.
Here is the thing though. Less people are seeing everything, but the percentage of people who like, comment, and share is steadily increasing. I didn’t say more people are engaging. I said the ratio of people who see a post vs. those who engage with it is increasing. Essentially all of the real numbers are going down, but the ratio between these declining metrics is on the rise.
So what does this mean?
The obvious answer is you need to pay to get more reach and engagement. But that is a dull take away. The insight here is that the only people who see your posts are the ones who interact with them all the time. Which means soon your reachable audience will be only users that are hyper-engaged. This requires a strategy shift.
Content plans will need to change. All organic content will need to be written to the 1% of your audience that are always active and always interested, basically your advocates. General or broad facing content will require paid promotion to reach your audience. So essentially, you will need to juggle two kinds of content for every page.
Theory To Practice
There are some challenges with this approach though. General posts which are promoted to a large audience still need to engage and captivate you hyper engaged 1% users, or Facebook will slowly stop showing them your content as well. In short, this requires a lot more thought and subtly than many page manages have put into Facebook posts historically.
In my experience though, the things that are most effective on Facebook are subtle and long term. The best pages, posts, and communities have been cultivated over months and years by doing the same small effective things.
The best thing we can do is stay ahead of the curve. Always innovate early. If you are working to overcome tomorrow’s challenges today then you are almost always working from a more favorable position.
How do these insights match up with your experiences?