Since we originally wrote this post in 2015, Facebook has made some changes that impact the odds that anyone actually sees your Facebook post.
You remember in 2018 when the announced a huge algorithm change? You can read about that here.
Since then, many small businesses and entrepreneurs have had questions about Facebook’s reach and how Facebook determines who will see your post.
This post shares some insights into how Facebook determines reach and when your Facebook posts show up.
The data below is originally from 2015 but we’re keeping it here for those interested in historical Facebook data or is curious about promoted posts.
However, we wanted to take the time to remind you that no matter what changes occur on social media platforms, the best thing you can do is listen to your audience and create valuable content they will enjoy and learn from! Creating high-quality content and building relationships with your followers by engaging with them will always be the best way to reach people with your social media posts.
Everyone who’s ever written a status update for a Facebook Page has asked themselves the same question:
“Is anyone actually gonna see this thing?”
It’s a natural thing to wonder! With organic reach being so unpredictable (and yet predictably low), putting effort into updates can feel a little like a lost cause. After all, what are the odds that it shows up in someone’s feed? How many Page updates does anyone ever see at all?
Turns out, there’s an answer.
The analytics super geniuses over at Socialbakers crunched some serious numbers in late 2015, and came to a few startling conclusions about how Pages fare on Facebook. You can check out all their findings on their blog, but here are a few highlights, and what important lessons you can learn from them:
You’re fighting for limited space
Imagine: it’s Tuesday evening. You’re at the computer. You’re a little groggy from Taco Night, you’ve spent the past 40 minutes going down the Wikipedia rabbit hole, and you’re ready for a pick-me-up – maybe someone you know has posted a cute dog picture on Facebook!
How many posts do you actually look at in your News Feed before navigating away?
Statistically, probably not that many.
In about half of all desktop Facebook sessions, users see 4 or fewer posts before they split. In fact, the median number of posts viewed in a single session is only five.
Not only that, but typically, as few as 24% of News Feed posts are those from Pages – meaning it’s extremely likely that a Facebook user only sees ONE Page post per session.
That’s not ideal – especially because who knows if that one post is going to be one of yours.
The lesson? Don’t be surprised when your reach seems low – like, WAY low.
But here’s the good news: while it’s not necessarily your fault that the cards are so stacked against Page posts, there ARE a few things you can do about it.
Don’t underestimate promoted posts
Part of Facebook’s appeal has always been that it’s free – and technically, it is. A brand can promote itself there without spending a cent!
If you want to promote yourself as effectively as possible, though, you’ll probably have to spend at least a few cents.
(Kind of the way it goes with most free things, really – from social marketing to Candy Crush.)
Socialbakers found that if the second post in a user’s News Feed is from a Page, there’s a 46% chance it was promoted – meaning, somebody paid for the privilege of showing up there.
When you consider the earlier statistic about how few Page posts a user sees in a single session, this is pretty big news.
Paying to promote a post obviously isn’t the only way to end up in someone’s News Feed – it isn’t even the only way to end up near the top. But it’s an option clearly worth taking seriously, especially if you’ve hesitated to shell out for reach in the past. (Here’s a useful primer for the uninitiated.)
If you’re determined to save your shekels, though, have heart – promoted posts aren’t necessarily as popular among Pages as you think.
Don’t OVERestimate promoted posts, either
Of the Page posts that show up in someone’s News Feed, only about 10% are promoted – meaning that for Pages, organic posts are still king. Nine out of the 10 times you see a Page post in your News Feed, it wasn’t paid for.
Paying to promote a post can influence its position in the News Feed (whether it’s near the bottom or the top), which certainly makes an impact, considering those stats from earlier about how few posts a typical user sees per session.
Hitting the ol’ Boost Post button isn’t exactly the same as performing a magic spell, though – in fact, depending on the type of update, it might not make a difference at all.
Experimenting with promoted posts can have huge benefits, but most of the Page posts in a person’s feed are organic. In fact, the more Pages a person likes overall, the likelier it is that the Page posts they see are organic ones. (Socialbakers found that people who have liked fewer Pages see a higher ratio of promoted posts.)
If you’re going to focus your energy on organic posts, though, there’s one big thing to keep in mind.
Brands have to work harder
And a lot of these Pages get better engagement than brands.
Socialbakers found that Facebook users don’t interact with brands nearly as much as they do with other types of Pages, coming in fourth behind media, community, and celebrity Pages.
Meaning? Your Facebook updates are going to have to work a lot harder. Because there’s a lot of branded content out there that just isn’t resonating with users.
Understanding the Facebook algorithms that determine reach is one part of the solution. So is engaging live with your followers, instead of just throwing content at them. Understand why people follow a page in the first place, and why they unfollow it, too.
Facebook is one of those things where the more you put in, the more you get out – just constantly feeding it content won’t work.
(On the other hand, once you know something works, you can always use it more than once.)
Spend time analyzing the types of posts that perform best for your page specifically, and work out a system for writing more of them – ultimately, the stuff you should be posting depends entirely on your specific audience, and what it responds to!
On the one hand, that means it can take a long time to find your groove and feel as though it’s actually working. On the other, though, it means that it’s just as tricky for the other brands out there as it is for you – so don’t feel discouraged when you hit a bump in the road!