By @TheMarkDalton

Overall organic reach on Facebook has been falling over the past number of months, so if you are running a business page and you have noticed less activity since the start of the year then don’t worry. You are not alone.

Anyone who has run a Facebook Page will know that organic reach of posts is one of the hardest metrics to handle and improve. You see, Facebook is a complicated beast. Their priority is the user, the consumers. Facebook doesn’t care about your sales or your click through ratio. They are not out to make the metrics look better for you and cater to your business.

As a result, Facebook uses something called EdgeRank. This is the complicated algorithm which determines what you get shown and when you get shown it. The basic idea in a nutshell is that Facebook learns what you like through how you interact and then tries to pre-determine what you want to be shown first when you open up the app.

Where things get hard for marketers and businesses is that Facebook continues to tweak and change the algorithm in an attempt to find the best results for the end user. So Facebook could be set up that a comment carries more weight than a like because if you take the time to comment then you must be more into what is being posted.

Next week Facebook could change their mind and decide that likes mean more than comments and adjust the algorithm accordingly to reflect that so all of a sudden a like has a more important value then what it did the previous week. So if you have a page where your posts have more comments then likes then the algorithm will alter your organic reach.

Facebook constantly tweaks the algorithm and trying to stay on top of what you should be doing is the hardest part. A recent study from SocialFlow shows that publishers have seen a dramatic drop in reach since the start of the year.

Interestingly, the number of posts created has actually gone up more than 30%, so logically you would think that more posts should equal more reach. However, despite the number of posts rising, the organic reach has gone the opposite direction and fallen 42%.

The only explanation for such a dramatic fall in reach is that Facebook must have altered the algorithm again. Towards the end of the fourth quarter and at the start of January last year, media companies were doing well.

It could all boil down to the fact that Facebook is becoming a link sharing site. Earlier in the year it was revealed that personal sharing on the network is down and that people are using Facebook more to share external links to publications and news sites.

Facebook wants you to share as much information about your personal life as possible, however personal sharing now is taking place more on Snapchat which could be an indication as to why Mark Zuckerberg wanted to buy Snapchat so bad some time ago.

As a result, Facebook has been trialling some new methods to get people sharing personal content again and not just links. For example, a recent initiative has been to provide a live score at the top of your feed during a game and encourage you to post about it. I had a live score banner at the top of my Facebook feed for the Sox game last week. It didn’t encourage me to say anything about the Sox game on Facebook (I actually posted about it on Twitter instead) but still…a nice touch!

So what can you actually do about your organic reach? Honestly, not a whole lot. Facebook holds the cards and they decide what is deemed good or not. The Facebook algorithm is somewhat of a dark art, you can’t control it and 95% of the time it is hard to tell what way it is going.

Is a like worth more than a comment? Is a share worth more than both of them? Honestly it changes so much now that it can be hard to tell what you need to prioritise on obtaining.

All you can really do is keep an eye on the metrics, see what your organic reach is doing with each post, then tweak it and see what happens. Of course we know by now that paid reach will gain more traction on Facebook then organic but just be careful. You always want to use paid reach when you are linking back to your own content, not somebody else’s content.

A mistake I have seen people make recently is that they are boosting Facebook posts which don’t even link to their own website or content. When I am posting to Facebook there are something things I always do which I know can produce the optimum effect.

1. Use a high quality photo if you are attaching a link
2. Put your brand logo on the photo
3. Keep the copy clean and easy to read

Three little things you should always do no matter what the algorithm is telling you. If you produce content which people want to share then good things will happen with time. Be prepared to spend some money on Facebook ads if you want to optimise your exposure.

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