Facebook Organic Reach Rapidly Approaching Zero


The organic reach of brand content in Facebook posts is rapidly dwindling, to the point you can expect it to peter out to nothing in the coming months.

Facebook began restricting the organic reach of Page content in 2012 and has since seemingly given up on telling marketers they aren't going to have to pay to play. In fact, Ogilvy cites anonymous "Facebook sources" as telling community managers they can expect Facebook organic reach to plunge to absolutely nothing in the foreseeable future.

facebook organic reach

In their analysis of more than 100 brand pages in February 2014, Social@Ogilvy found that Facebook’s organic reach is just 6%, with large pages over 500,000 followers seeing just 2% reach. (Meaning, the bigger your brand, the more you're being pressured toward paid content.) These numbers are rapidly in decline, having dropped almost 50% since October.

It's pretty abysmal, right? But what can a marketer do about it?

NEW: Hacking the Facebook Newsfeed Algorithm: 5 Ways to Recover Organic Reach

How to Combat Your Diminishing Facebook Reach

It's time to come to terms with the fact this is the new reality for Facebook marketers. In December 2013, AdAge obtained a deck Facebook had sent to partners, in which they found the following statement from Facebook:

"We expect organic distribution of an individual page's posts to gradually decline over time as we continually work to make sure people have a meaningful experience on the site."

It was a complete about-face by the network, who just a year earlier denied the reach of organic Facebook Page content was declining, in light of research at that time by Group M Next.

A November 2012 statement from Facebook read:

"Based on a recent quality check, we made an adjustment to the news feed algorithm to respond to the negative feedback signals of spam and people hiding posts. Current signals show the adjustment has been successful. Median reach of Facebook pages has remained the same, while spam complaints and stories hidden by users have fallen significantly."

Late in 2012, Group M Next had looked into pages operated by 25 brands and found the share of Facebook users seeing organic posts from a brand they "Liked" was down 38% in the five weeks after Sept. 20, from 15.56% (consistent with the average 16% Facebook reported at the time) to 9.62%.

organic facebook reach

If you haven't already, it's time to get comfortable with Facebook Ads. Whereas Facebook once assured marketers and brands their Page building efforts wouldn't be for naught, it's clear now that you're going to have to pay to get fans, then pay to reach them again.

Facebook has worked long and hard at ensuring that fans acquired through their network are kept within the Facebook platform while engaging with brands. Smart marketers are going to have to get creative enticing fans off the platform and onto other brand properties and channels, where getting a message across doesn't cost another paid click and ongoing engagement is earned, not bought. This makes a unified, integrated effort across social, website, email and other touchpoints more important than ever.

The free ride on the world's largest social network is almost over, as marketers continue to question Facebook, "How low can you go?"

What have you done to ease the transition from Facebook as a word of mouth powerhouse to a pay-to-play platform only?

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Lisa Van Eck
Mar 27, 2014

This is nothing but bull shit, to charge these pages to entertain us, I'd f$&@ up. This is supposed to be FREE! You at Facebook have always said "Facebook has always been free and will always be free" now is that a lie, are you lying to us, just to lire us in.. Leave these people alone and let them have there pages and entertain the public without you cutting there viewing number, and charging them. You make enough money from stock sales, and advertisement on each page, the people on Facebook are not rich, some people do these pages to earn extra money to support there family's, and you rich mother f$&@ers want to charge them for doing that, you suck. Instead of picking on page owners you should spend your time fixing the problems Facebook is having, and getting your shit straight.

Renaud Gagne
Apr 01, 2014

How can Facebook expect us the deliver our fans free quality contents if we can't reach our audience without paying?The only sensible thing to do for us marketers is to do lead generation ads on facebookand then deliver our content through other platforms.I don't think that it will improve the user experience with fanpages in any way, shape or form.

Apr 05, 2014

I knew something was up when my post views significantly dropped from views in the hundreds to less than 50 views and now even less. 

Apr 08, 2014

This whole thing about paying to get our content seen doesn't surprise me at all.  When FB started out, it was purely a way to interact with friends all around the world, merely a social site.   Now it has become a huge platform for businesses and FB wants to cash in on that.  It may seem unfair, but I do understand where they're coming from.  Things change - we either tag along or move on.  It's their business now to make money off of their members.  It's our choice to either go along with it or find another avenue for advertising our businesses and sharing our social lives. 

Zeki E.
Dec 15, 2015

Spot on article, I have seen these numbers on my own business Facebook account, I personally experienced the fall month by month. I was shocked to see how my organic reach was constantly falling and eventually started getting around %6 reach. This in return forced me to actually start boosting my own posts so that they reach to my target audience (people who liked my page).

If you Google the issue you will see people advising you to create engaging and fun content but so far I couldn't managed to do that, whatever I did didn't changed the situation. Its actually very discouraging to see stupid funny cat images and companies using silly looking mascots reaching millions of people where your post that actually makes sense is completely invisible.

I started to believe you need low quality, mindless, low IQ posts so that people actually engage with them.

Victor Sandiego
Nov 18, 2017

I'm about done with Facebook for my brand Subprimal Poetry Art. Paying for ads can make sense if you're selling something and you can expect - or at least hope for - some ROI.

However, here at Subprimal, we're paying authors and artists, putting in time and energy soliciting, curating, creating, and publishing content, and all of the content is available free of charge.

Yep, it's a labor of love and I'd like to reach more people, but Facebook (even though we've got a decent number of likes, about 1000) barely shows a post to anybody - unless we pay. And paying them doesn't make a lot of financial sense.

So Facebook has basically lost me. It's turned into a giant version of paid classified ads.

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