Facebook Reach: Everything You Need to Know

Written by Nicholas Garofalo

On June 16, 2016
Facebook reach establishes an audience

Welcome to Edgar Learn, where we share the strategies that helped us find success! This is Part Two of our series on Facebook Marketing, where we’ll give away some of the Facebook marketing tips we follow ourselves. Click here to read Part One!

There are a lot of metrics you can use to judge the effectiveness of your marketing efforts on Facebook. And while the amount of traffic being driven to your own website is probably your ultimate measure of success, it’s by no means the only one you should be monitoring. In fact, before you worry about conversions, you should become familiar with reach.

Facebook reach – that is, the number of people who are seeing your content – is perhaps the most basic measurement of posting success. After all, if no one is seeing your content in the first place, it’s going to be pretty hard to get them to interact with you in any way!

Facebook reach is also incredibly easy to boost – throwing even a few dollars into a post can put it in front of hundreds of new faces. This makes it a good place to start if you’re new to Facebook marketing, as it’s easy to see results. Of course, there’s also plenty you can do to boost your organic (unpaid) reach, and we’ll be sharing some pointers for that as well!

Understanding Facebook Reach

As we said above, your reach is simply the number of people who see what you’ve published. But there are some other important numbers you need to understand before you can really start making sense of whether or not your reach is effective.

The first thing to understand about reach is that it’s not a measurement of how many people actually read or otherwise interact with your content. Likes, shares, and other clicks are a much better indication of that. We’re going to lump those all together into a catch-all stat called engagement. And we’ll talk more about engagement in a future Edgar Learn post.

Reach means that your content appeared in someone’s News Feed and passed in front of their eyeballs. Maybe they stopped to read it, or maybe they scrolled right by and barely registered its existence. And that’s okay! Not everyone will read every one of your posts, and as long as you’re building your reach you’re building your potential pool for engagement and conversion.

Facebook reach gets meta

The reach of a post about reach, in a post about reach…

The other main thing to keep in mind is that the typical Facebook post reaches a tiny sliver of your audience. In fact, the most recent numbers indicate that only around 11% of your followers will see a particular one of your posts (which is actually good news, because it used to be closer to 4%). So don’t get discouraged by seemingly low reach! Chances are you’re right in line with the norm.

Building your organic reach

Now that you understand the basics of what reach means, let’s talk about what you should be doing to reach a wider audience – without spending a dime!

Organic reach is determined by Facebook’s algorithms, which are shrouded in mystery and constantly changing. In general, it’s best not to worry about the particulars of the algorithms, and to just focus on creating quality content that people will want to read (because that’s what the algorithms are trying to promote anyway), but there are a few exceptions.

It's best not to worry about the particulars of the algorithms, and to just focus on creating quality content Click to Tweet

Facebook’s newest fascination is live video. So your live video content is going to get a bump over traditional, non-live content. But running a Facebook feed consisting purely of live video would be wildly impractical (although probably in a fun, semi-insane sort of way). Instead, just be aware that live video should be an important part of your toolkit, and use it as needed.

Remember when we said that your reach helps drive engagement? Well your engagement also helps drive reach. That is to say, the more people you have clicking and liking and sharing your post, the more people your post will reach. It’s a built-in snowball effect, but again it’s all aimed at giving Facebook users content that is interesting and useful to them, instead of just cat memes and pictures of babies.

Facebook reach via cat

Not a great way to get Facebook reach.

Knowing that, here are two key ways to boost your organic reach (without getting too bogged down in the details):

  1. Repeat content. We talk about this a lot here, but repeating content should be a key part of your strategy. Simply put – you know that the average reach of a post is now around 11% of your audience. That means roughly nine out of ten followers will miss what you post. Why not give them another chance to see it?
  2. Do more of what works. Think of your posts in categories, and keep an eye on what categories reach more people. You’ll probably find that your audience responds well to posts from a certain category, so just give them more of what they like!

We can get into more specifics (and indeed already have), but for this post we still need to talk about…

Paying for a bigger reach

Let’s get this out of the way first: spending money on Facebook is always completely optional! In fact, at Edgar we recommend that promoting posts and paying for reach be the exception, not the rule.

So in general, while it’s easy to spend a few bucks to increase your reach, it should only be used in a few specific cases. Those cases are:

  1. You’re promoting a contest or event. Especially on a relatively short timeline, where repeated posts would become annoying or tedious for your audience.
  2. You have a particularly successful organic post. If one of your organic posts has really taken off, it’s probably pretty good content! It makes sense to throw a couple dollars into it to reach more people can make sense.

In each case, the most important part of boosting your post is to stay within your budget! Spending just $5 to $10 per post is a great way to get the hang of things, and Facebook’s Ads Manager is full of helpful guides to get you started.

Speaking of getting started – this post should give you what you need to know to understand the basics of Facebook reach. Follow the links from this article to learn more, and stay tuned for our next post, where we’ll get into more specific strategies for crafting catchy posts!

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