Has Facebook been inflating organic reach?

Facebook has changed the way they’re reporting organic reach. Don’t panic – this is a good thing! Although it does mean that to date, it’s likely your organic reach numbers have been higher than they should have been.

Why? Until now, Facebook has defined organic reach as your post being loaded into someone’s newsfeed but, it turns out, this didn’t actually mean your post made it into the viewable part of their screen. So a percentage of the people Facebook said you’d reached actually never saw your content.

From 12th February onwards, organic reach will be based on ‘viewable impressions’ – so Facebook will only count someone as being reached when your content ‘enters the person’s screen’.

Facebook signalled last year that this change was coming, so this isn’t related to the recent changes to how content is prioritised in newsfeed. But it will mean you’ll start to see lower organic reach numbers in your Insights report. It doesn’t mean you’re actually reaching fewer people, so while your organic reach is lower, you shouldn’t see the same drop in the number of interactions (reactions, comments, shares etc) you are getting.

The Good News

  1. If you calculate your engagement rates using interactions as a percentage of reach, then your engagement rates will look pretty good! While your organic reach number is likely to drop, you shouldn’t see any decrease in interactions.
  2. If you’re using interactions as a percentage of impressions to calculate your engagement rate, then you shouldn’t notice much change either upwards or downwards.
  3. Facebook will now be reporting organic reach the same way they have always reported paid reach – and when it comes to reporting consistency is a good thing as it makes data more robust.
  4. Your insights will show you the ‘old’ and ‘new’ numbers so you can determine the impact this change has had on your numbers.

The Not-So-Good News

  1. It seems there’s been a fair bit of double counting going on when it comes to organic reach. If reach is a key reporting metric for you, it’s frustrating to know that the numbers you’ve been working with up to now haven’t been accurate.
  2. This change along with the recent algorithm update means your organic reach numbers are going to take a double hit. However it’s only one metric, and if you are benchmarking correctly, you’ll be basing your success on a few different metrics so should still have some good, healthy results to report.

Reach the full blog post from Facebook.

If you’d like help with benchmarking or auditing your own social media results, feel free to get in touch!

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