Any brand using social media will have discovered that it's becoming harder to get noticed on platforms like Facebook and Instagram.
That's because organic reach has been plummeting, which has left many companies feeling they have no choice but to resort to ad spend for marketing their products.
So is organic reach really dead, and can anything be done to claw back views?
What is organic reach and why is it declining?
Organic reach is defined as the number of accounts that see a piece of content on a social media platform that isn't backed by advertising dollars.
As sites such as Instagram grow, they’re managing more content and so space on users' screens is at a premium. Because they strive to display content that’s relevant - as opposed to simply new - the chronological feeds we were familiar with gave way to posts deemed important by each site's algorithm.
Unfortunately, that can lead to your brand's content no longer being prioritized, which means fewer clicks, shares, comments and, ultimately, conversions.
Recent research from Ignite found that the average organic reach per post on Facebook is now around 2.2% of page followers. Last year, We Are Social discovered an organic post on a Facebook page had a reach of around 5.2%, or the equivalent of one in every 19 fans.
It’s already been argued that because social media platforms want brands to pay to reach their audiences, there’s now no option but to ditch organic in favor of paid ads.
What can be done to recover your organic social media reach?
Paid advertising won't always be an option for some businesses. Besides, good marketers know that organic campaigns have always been the foundation of paid ad strategies. Rather than abandoning organic altogether, why not start building a new strategy that focuses on meaningful content instead?
1. Know your platforms
A good grasp of social media demographics is vital for you to accurately target customers, as not everyone will be on every social media platform. Hootsuite recently published a useful breakdown on user statistics, which could prevent you wasting time and energy creating content your target audience won't see.
Once you know your platforms inside out, you can start to tweak your profiles for maximum engagement and learn what's best to post and when.
For example, Twitter points out that tweets with videos achieve ten times more engagement, while posting at non-peak times might prevent your content being swamped during busier periods.
Remember that what works on Instagram is unlikely to work on TikTok - don't recycle content across your platforms, but use posts that have been specifically designed for each one.
2. Perfect content creation
Once you know where and when you're posting, you'll need to perfect the technicalities of your content. Do some research on how to create captions for Instagram Stories, and learn how to style a LinkedIn video.
Remember to add those all-important finishing touches, too - for instance, you might have created a video for Facebook, but did you know that adding closed captions could boost your viewing time by 12%?
Tricks like this are worth applying because when users spend time reading longer captions, they are ultimately spending more time on the post - and that drives organic engagement.
However, consider that you can't just push out sales-based posts all the time and expect users to respond. Instead, aim for 80% of your content to be useful, brand-building and helpful, and leave the remaining 20% to promote products.
3. Plan it out
Even when you think you've mastered content creation, it's vital to implement a proper plan. Posting haphazardly whenever you remember can actually reduce reach, whereas scheduled content appeals to those all-important algorithms.
Remember too that quality should always eclipse quantity; your goal is to gain as much interaction with viewers as possible, not to spam their feeds with as many posts as you can cram in.
To keep your strategy sustainable, use a calendar each month to lay out your posts and work out topics and themes, then check each one off as they're done.
4. Show your value and personality
The most important thing to remember about organic content is that it should show who you are and what you're about, so aim to give your audience something of value when you post.
If you create saveable and shareable content, you're showcasing your brand as an expert in its field and improving the reach of your name organically. For example, in the world of papercrafts, The Happy Planner posts lifestyle and wellness content that shows its own products being used.
Giveaways are another great technique, as people will like, comment and share widely if there’s a chance to get something in return, all the while boosting your brand up their news feeds.
Get your employees involved too, as behind-the-scenes videos can boost trust and engagement with your whole community, as can rapid responses to social media comments. Indeed, Twitter has found that customers spend up to 20% more with brands that respond to their tweets, showing a direct link to revenue.
Ultimately, while competition for organic social media reach is high, that doesn't mean it's not a worthwhile endeavor. By optimizing your strategy, considering user experience at all stages and publishing consistent, high-quality content, you can ensure your brand appeals to the algorithms - and keeps its place on social channels.