2014 was a year of complaints about Facebook, most notably about the indisputable fact that Facebook reach is on an unavoidable decline. Businesses that used to effortlessly reach 15-20% of their audiences now struggle to reach 6% without dumping money into boosting posts. Some decry the trend as yet another Facebook cash grab, while Facebook defends their actions as improving the news feed for everyone.
There are a number of reasons your reach may have dropped, whether it was a sudden drop or a long, gradual process. Here are the most common.
1. Facebook Updated Their Algorithm
This is perhaps the number one reason for lost reach on Facebook. It’s exactly the same as when your Google ranking drops because Google made a change in their algorithm. It’s not a penalty, it’s not a punishment, it’s an adjustment to better fit you in with the others in your niche. And, just like Google’s adjustments, there’s nothing you can do to get “your” rank back; it’s not your rank, not your reach. The drop is the new normal, and you’ll have to step up to gain more than you have now.
2. You’ve Been Too Promotional
Facebook wants to segregate advertising and natural posting. Their goal is for all promotional posting and advertising language to be limited to their sponsored post system, while organic posts provide organic value without advertising attached. This means that if you’re in the habit of being very promotional, you’re going to face a decline in reach. Specifically, the posts that Facebook deems overly promotional will be dropped in their exposure. Too many, and you’ll find dropping engagement numbers and a lowered reach across the board.
3. You Stopped Posting
One of the most important aspects of Facebook’s algorithm is timely posting. Users who want to see your posts want to see them regularly. If you’re not posting regularly, they won’t see your posts as often, and thus won’t have as many chances to interact with your brand. Less interaction means your posts are shown to fewer people, which is textbook declining reach.
To get around this, you’re probably going to want to schedule your posts on a consistent basis. As long as you interact with fans when posts are posted, you can schedule them for whenever you like.
4. Your Audience Left
This happens fairly often to certain types of brands and business pages. If you created a page for an event, for instance, you can do a lot to rack up fans and engagement on that page. Once the event is over, the date is passed, users will naturally stop caring. Even if it’s an annual event, you’ll see a drop in the number of people following your page, and a corresponding drop in reach. The same goes for businesses heavily affected by seasonality; no lawn care business in New England is going to see high engagement levels during midwinter, after all.
5. You Were Reported as Spam
A spam flag is going to hurt your posts in specific and your page in general. If you’ve received a spam label, you’ll end up with drastically lowered reach, if you’re not shut down entirely. If your site, rather than your page, is labeled spam, links to it will be censored. If your site is flagged as hosting malware, you’ll likewise serve up ominous warnings to your users rather than the content you wanted to post.
6. You Purchased Followers
Buying followers from a clickfarm is going to be detrimental simply from a mathematical point of view. See, clickfarm users follow your page, but they never care about your posts or engage with them in any way. When Facebook served up your page, they serve it up to an algorithmically chosen selection of your audience, typically the most engaged users. If you have a huge audience of worthless fake followers, the percentage you reach falls, thus giving you a lowered reach.
7. You Gave Up Targeting Ads
Facebook’s ad and post targeting options are great for showing your posts to a select subset of users. This helps you boost your reach, because your posts only show up for people who are likely to engage, which further circulates your posts. If you used to target, but you recently stopped – or your social managers stopped – you’ll see a corresponding drop in reach.
8. You’re Comparing Boosted Posts to Promoted Posts
Boosting a post is the same as promoting a post, except it’s less well targeted and it’s limited in the options you can set. If you’re comparing posts promoted using each method, the boosted post is likely going to have a lower reach. Either will probably have higher reach than a non-promoted post, but that’s just to be expected.
9. Your Competition Got Stronger
There are only so many posts consumed by users in a given day. You’re competing with their friends, their family, the other brands they like and advertisers for a space in that field of attention. If your competition gets stronger, it can elbow you out of a prime spot, decreasing your reach. It can also peel users away from your audience in favor of theirs.
10. You’re Blindly Promoting Valueless Contests
This goes hand in hand with Facebook cracking down on overly promotional posts. If you’re posting images that promote contests, particularly if those contests don’t have any relevant or legitimate value to the user, Facebook is going to frown your way, shake their finger and press the “Decrease reach” button they keep under a glass dome in their massive, Bond villain-style control room.
11. Your Posts are Identical to Ads
One more, a subtlety that can get your posts demoted; when the copy is more or less identical to what you post in your ads. Don’t think Facebook isn’t tracking all of that.
12. You Accidentally Published a Dark Post
Okay, so this is a pretty unlikely situation, but if you’re using Power Editor for your posting, you have the ability to publish a “dark post” that doesn’t appear in the news feed. The idea is to then use that post to target specific segments of your audience and split-test various content for various demographics. However, if you accidentally publish a dark post, and you forget to target and promote it properly, that post is going to have an inexplicably low reach. You know, since no one can see it.
13. You Violated a Facebook Rule
Break the rules and Facebook breaks you.
14. Users Don’t Engage with Your Content
One of the key elements in Facebook’s visibility algorithm is user engagement. When users engage with a post, Facebook assumes that the user wants to see more from that brand, and thus shows more of your posts to them. More engaged users means more reach.
Conversely, if your posts are not engaging, users will see less of them. This can spiral out of control; the see fewer posts, have fewer chances to engage, and thus engage less. Less engagement results in further declining reach.
15. Your Content is Stale
If you’re looking at Facebook’s trending sidebar, writing posts about those topics, and scheduling them for a week or a month in the future, you’re behind the times. You’re going to have lower reach because people just don’t care any more. Think about the “15 minutes of fame” phenomenon. If you’re trying to bring up the topic after the 30 minute mark, your users are just going to roll their eyes and tune you out.