A Step-By-Step Guide to Determine Your Facebook Reach

When we first wrote this post in early 2015, the average Facebook reach was about 4.11% of total Page likes. Meaning for every 100 people who liked a Page, only four of them actually saw a post in their News Feed. In January 2017, the average reach was 8.92% – more than double! – which you’d think would be SUPER exciting news.

Despite Facebook inching ever closer to the 2 billion users mark, overall engagement (meaning, people reacting, commenting, clicking, or sharing) on Facebook Pages has plummeted: from 15.58% in April 2015 all the way down to 4.32% this January. What happened?

In short: the algorithm. Changes in how Facebook sorts updates to users’ News Feeds means reach is in a steep (albeit natural) decline. The new News Feed algorithm prioritizes user sharing, and aggregates multiple shares. This means that each user share = more competition for business shares. (Bummer.) 

The good news? These fluctuations can occur on a month-to-month basis, depending on when Facebook implements new changes (they typically roll out new features gradually). This means you can (and should) review your Facebook metrics and adjust your Facebook marketing tactics on a regular basis.

Yet one constant remains: Writing quality content that people WANT to engage with – while varying that content and posting it on a regular schedule (thanks to your easy Facebook scheduler) – has literally never been more important!

This update to a classic post talks about what is a “good” reach on Facebook and how to think about reach in the brave new world of the latest algorithm updates. 

Everybody wonders it sometimes.

You peek at the organic reach for every Facebook update you post, and the numbers aren’t what you’d hoped. They aren’t even what you expected. You’ve seen people with higher bowling scores. And you can’t help but wonder:

Does my Facebook Page suck?

How Good Is Your Facebook Reach Really?

It’s frustrating when it feels like nobody is seeing your posts. Sometimes it seems like you’re the only person who doesn’t have the whole thing figured out – like there must be one simple, glaring thing you’re doing wrong and just need to fix, like plugging the hole in a sinking rowboat.

That’s when it’s time to get a little perspective on your Facebook reach – and here’s a step-by-step guide on how you can do it.

How does your Facebook reach compare to other Pages?

Want to know how your Facebook Page is really doing? You can’t just look at your own stats – you need to have something to compare them to.

Today, we’ll use these findings from February 2017. The social media analytics experts at Locowise compiled the statistics for thousands of Facebook Pages, and came up with results you can use to contextualize your own. (Hint: If you need a refresher on how to access Facebook data beyond what you get on your Insights tab, this shows you what to do.)

Here’s an example.

According to their study, the average reach for a Facebook post in January was about 8.92% of total Page likes – down from 9.53% in December. Here’s how you can see how your Page stacked up.

Facebook engagement summary

Source: Locowise

First, use the Post Data spreadsheet you can download directly from Facebook (again, here’s how) to add the reach for every update you post to your Page over the last month. (Remember to look at organic reach, not total!) Let’s say your total organic reach for the month is 50,000 users. Divide that by the number of updates you posted (let’s say 20 updates), and you’ll get an organic reach of 2,500 users per post.

Because your Page’s number of likes is probably different at the end of the month than it is at the beginning (let’s say yours grew by more than 2,000), again, make sure you average your Page’s likes over January’s 31 days. Add up the numbers in your “Lifetime Total Likes” column (in the Page Data spreadsheet) and divide by 31 to get your average.

Divide the average number of users reached per post by the average number of total Page likes, and you’ll have your average reach. Don’t be discouraged if you get a result below the average of 8.92%!

You could look at a disappointing post reach and feel disheartened, but engagement is the lowest it’s been since Locowise began doing their studies – so there’s more to the dip than simple mathematics, and there are many reasons why:

Facebook’s algorithm famously (and drastically) changed over the summer of 2016, affecting reach in ways that are still being felt by anyone with a business Page. While the change is pushing more businesses towards paid advertising, the upside is that Facebook is planning a LOT of changes for 2017 that don’t require any spending, including a continued focus on video, CTA buttons just for business Pages, prioritization of messaging for businesses, and new features meant specifically for mobile.

In short, there are a ton of opportunities for your Page – and Facebook’s prioritization of quality content has remained consistent for over four years!

There’s more to life than Facebook reach

So now you know how your reach compares to the average – but reach isn’t the only thing that matters, either. Not by a long shot.

It means people seeing what you post and actually taking action, instead of scrolling on past without a second thought. And it’s easy to measure your own.

On your spreadsheet, look at the Lifetime engaged users column. This gives you the engagement for each individual post. Add them up (hint: use the sum function instead of doing it manually) to get your total engagement for the month, then divide that number by your total number of people reached to get your engagement rate.

Spreadsheet Sum Function

Enter a sum formula into a blank cell to calculate a total. For example, if you want to add every number in a column between cells B3 and B50, you would enter =SUM(B3:B50) into an empty cell.

According to the study, the average engagement rate in January was 4.32% of a Page’s reach – so again, you can compare your own engagement rate to the average.

And what if yours is really low? How can you get a better engagement rate?

Well, that’s the other nice thing about spreadsheets like this – they make it easy to identify what’s working and what isn’t. For example, you can sort all of the updates in your sheet in order of engagement rate, so you can easily pick out patterns in what people liked the best, the least, and so on. Pay attention to factors like:

  • Type of update
  • Time of post
  • Day of the week
  • Message phrasing (A question? A statement? Funny? Serious?)

Don’t be discouraged if you don’t recognize any immediate patterns – especially if you’re looking at a relatively small period of time, like a single month. Try going back to your Insights page and exporting data for a broader range, like several months, and you may notice things that weren’t apparent in a smaller data set.

Now see how you’re performing

That’s all there is to it – now you know how to figure out your own average organic reach, as well as your average engagement. So download your data from your Facebook Insights tab, compare it to the average, and see exactly how you’re doing compared to the other Pages out there!