Apr 07 Social Media Organic Reach 2021: Who Actually Sees Your Content
How much value do you currently place on your organic content strategy?
What was once the sole focus of social media marketing has nearly become an afterthought as businesses allocate more and more of their budgets into social media advertising. And who can blame them when the networks have forced everyone into a “pay-to-play” world and regularly adjust their algorithms to downplay organic reach.
Within the following post, we’re breaking down insights and best practices based on our recent analysis of organic reach across Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn. Insights such as:
- A brand Facebook post, on average, reaches about 2.2% of page followers
- A brand post on Instagram has the most potential to reach audiences organically
- Evergreen content is the most ideal when it comes to your organic content strategy
- Hashtags are a helpful discoverability tool, but make sure you’re using them properly
See how organic reach has changed over the years, as well as what key tactics your social teams should have in place to ensure not only success of your organic content strategy but ensuring a cohesive strategy across paid media as well.
A Brief History of Organic Reach on Facebook
If you’re uncertain what organic reach exactly is and why it’s so important, it’s the number of people who see your content on social media without any paid distribution.
Over the years, the organic reach of branded content has varied from network to network. Facebook always received the most attention in this area as they’ve frequently made moves that slowly but surely diminished the organic reach of content.
Organic Reach in 2021
Now, our team at Ignite Social Media has run an analysis on not just Facebook’s current organic reach, but Instagram and LinkedIn as well, to help brands better understand how their organic content performance varies across channels. Our findings are representative of an analysis of the following data from January 2020-February 2021:
- Facebook: An analysis of over 7,100 posts across 20 Brand Pages
- Instagram: An analysis of over 550 posts across 4 Brand handles
- LinkedIn: An analysis of over 900 posts across 7 Brand accounts
We’ve found, as you can see in the chart above, that while Facebook’s average organic reach has not changed much since its initial decline (sitting at about 2.2% organic reach per post currently), depending on different variables (such as the size of your following) some brands can experience as low as 1% organic reach. Those that are lucky enough to have an enticing following could however garner up to 5% organic reach.
Now let that sink in – let’s say you have 150,000 followers on Facebook, on average only 3,300 of your followers will see an organic post.
When it comes to LinkedIn, organic reach increases slightly. Our findings show that the average organic reach sits at about 5% per post but could prove to be as high as 10% for some brands. Taking into consideration the same as before, theorizing you have 150,000 followers on your LinkedIn page, on average 7,950 followers will see your content.
Finally, Instagram. We can only speculate as to why Instagram’s proven to have the best organic reach of our analysis with an average benchmark of 9% per post. It could be the visual focus of the platform that has people seeing more content at a single time versus the need to stop and consume lengthier text-heavy content on other networks, but again, that’s just speculation. Some brands on Instagram could receive lower than this, but at the opposite end of the spectrum, 25% organic reach per post is still attainable on this platform.
Just to round out our example of having 150,000 Instagram followers, this analysis shows that only 14,100 of those followers will see an organic post within their Instagram feed.
Organic Content Best Practices
While organic reach rates on certain networks may have marketers questioning the need for an organic content strategy, it’s important to continue this type of content to keep your channels active and interesting. You want to make sure your pages have some fresh content for people that discover them, and hopefully, that will encourage them to follow your brand and start building affinity.
Some other key things to remember when implementing organic content are:
- Be where your audience is active. Make sure you’re on the right platforms to get the most out of your content. This means seeing where your target audience is active and focusing efforts there. You don’t want to spend a lot of time and money creating content that won’t be seen by your target audience. A great example of this is TikTok – which is very popular now and can be a great tool for marketers – but good TikTok content is not simple to create and spending time on content for this channel doesn’t make much sense if your audience isn’t there.
- Look at audience insights to post when they’re most active. Most channels offer some information about your audience and which days and times they’re online so this can be a valuable way to learn when to post your organic content and give it the best chance of being seen by more people. Of course, the algorithms don’t make this easy, but getting some better engagement initially may help your post get served more in the News Feed because of that initial interaction.
- Create a community. Your organic content should be less about pushing products in a salesy way and more about connecting and engaging with your audience. Simply asking them to respond with an emoji or for them to share UGC related to your brand is a great way to start creating a community. And don’t forget to answer them when they comment! This goes a long way in building affinity and creating loyal customers.
- Keep it evergreen. This applies more to Facebook and Instagram, but keeping your organic content more evergreen is better because even though you post it on a certain day, someone may not see it in their feed until one to three days later because of the algorithm. This isn’t to say you can’t post more real-time content, but just remember people may see it later and be confused. This also applies to any sales or promotions with end dates – if it’s a one-day sale, it’s probably best to promote for that day and then stop the ad.
- Post organic videos. Videos tend to be prioritized by algorithms, so post these when your time and assets allow.
- Hashtags are your friend on most channels. They can increase reach on your organic posts, making your posts more discoverable. For Twitter, we recommend 1-2 hashtags per tweet and for Instagram, 6-12 hashtags in the first comment (as opposed to the main caption). The jury is still out on the effectiveness of hashtags on Facebook (even though Facebook keeps trying to make them a thing), but an occasional campaign or holiday hashtag won’t hurt you there. Just don’t overdo it.
- Don’t burn out your team creating organic content. While organic content is important, it typically doesn’t get the ROI that paid posts do so make sure you’re not investing too much time and energy into content that will never be promoted or shared more broadly. Take the quality over quantity approach here to have enough content to keep your channels active without using up valuable resources that could be focusing their efforts on other important social media marketing tasks.
- Don’t forget about engagement. We previously mentioned utilizing your organic content to build a community, so don’t forget to engage with them! Even if you’re not publishing a piece of content that has CTA, people may still comment with their own personal stories or questions for your team. It’s important that your social media team is prepared to respond to relevant comments as needed and build a relationship with your audience/potential customers.
How to Use Paid & Organic Content Together
Organic reach declined for a reason – Facebook has intentionally made it a play-to-play atmosphere across the entire social media landscape. Since the networks themselves are free to all users, advertising is a huge source of income and they know brands are willing to pay big money to buy up ideal real-estate on the networks. In today’s social media marketing, it’s become essential for brands to have a paid media strategy in place, but it’s also important that it works cohesively with your organic strategy.
Our belief is that paid should drive your business objectives, first and foremost. It should be used to reach some of those specific audiences that are just going to be impossible to get in front of if you don’t have paid to support it.
Organic is still important though because it showcases your brand; your brand voice, key messaging and story arcs, and provides valuable engagement opportunities with your active audience. You usually can’t get this type of engagement in other digital spaces.
For these reasons, it’s important not to have completely separate strategies for your organic and paid activity because they do work together in some ways. You want all your content to reflect your brand messaging, visual identity, and values the same. Your ads shouldn’t look different from your organic content and vice versa. Organic content can also be very valuable in figuring out which pieces of content to boost. Think of them as a mini-focus group; you may notice one piece performing far better than other organic pieces, so you promote it and put your money behind something that clearly resonates with your audience to get the most bang for your buck. This can lead to huge efficiencies in your paid media spend.
Ultimately, consistency is key, collaboration is key, and both paid and organic need to be connected to drive meaningful results for your brand.
Moving Forward with Your Brand Strategy
If you’re wondering how to adjust your brand strategy given the information above, don’t worry. Connect with our team of experts today to see how we can take your strategy above and beyond with both organic and paid social media marketing.