At the beginning of the year, Mark Zuckerberg announced that Facebook was changing its newsfeed algorithm. Users could expect to see more content from friends and family. And less for organizations and pages. Businesses started panicking.

Facebook was already a play to pay environment – on average, only 2.6 percent of your audience was seeing your organic posts. So, once the new algorithm was introduced, marketers expected a catastrophic decline in organic reach. Some even speculated it was the end of Facebook for businesses.

Speculation is great and all. But now it’s been a few months since the change. So I wanted to know…what really happened?


Here’s what I did

I don’t know exactly when the new algorithm was introduced. But since Zuckerberg made the announcement in January, we can assume they flipped the switch that month.

I wanted to look at the average organic reach for my clients before and after the switch. So I pulled numbers from three months before January and three months after for six of my clients.


Here’s what I found

Well, I wouldn’t call it the end of the world. But almost all of my clients – regardless of how big their following- took a hit.

Average reach before Average reach after Change in reach
Client 1 478 163 -65%
Client 2 11,790 8,413 -28%
Client 3 279 238 -14%
Client 4 11,350 10,100 -11%
Client 5 19,205 17,283* -10%
Client 6 340 943 177%

*For client 5 I removed one outlying post from this sample. This one post had 8 times the average organic reach and due to the very small sample size (less than 20 posts) it was skewing the data.

“Wait! What about client 6? They did significantly better after.” Keep in mind that the algorithm change isn’t the only variable in the mix. Client 6 has been focused on revamping and improving their social strategy for the last 6 months or so. It’s safe to assume that they made enough optimizations to mitigate the effects of the algorithm change.


What you should do about it

Did you see a drop in your organization’s organic reach as well? Don’t abandon Facebook just yet. Here are a couple tactics to help you get your numbers back up.


It’s Time to Try Video

The new algorithm prioritizes content that results in “meaningful” engagement. This means that liking is no longer enough – you want your users to be commenting and sharing.

We know that video is Facebook’s most engaging content. If you haven’t used it before, now is the time. (I know that video can be intimidating, but there are a lot of tools out there that make it easy.)

In Zuckerberg’s announcement, he noted that Facebook Live is even better for engagement, “Live videos often lead to discussion among viewers on Facebook—in fact, live videos on average get six times as many interactions as regular videos.”


Boost Your Top Posts

I’m not one to simply recommend throwing money at a problem. But Facebook advertising is relatively inexpensive and it’s a great way to make sure more of your followers see your content.

Client 2’s average reach is almost 8,500. But we’ve used Facebook ads to boost the occasional post and, when we did, increased our reach by 300 percent. A small investment of one or two hundred dollars can make a big difference.

If you want to maximize your results, keep an eye on Facebook Insights. When you see a recent post has a higher-than-average engagement rate, put a few dollars behind it.


Consider Facebook Groups

In Zuckerberg’s announcement, he doesn’t just say you’ll see more content from friends and family. You’ll also see more from groups.

Groups have seen a bit of a resurgence in the last few years. Perhaps the most famous is Pantsuit Nation – a group that made headlines during the 2016 election. With groups, all content comes from individuals instead of organizations. This can inspire passionate community building.

There are a lot of opportunities for an organization to create a Group. If you’re a nonprofit, you can have a group for volunteers. If you’re a trade association, you can have a group for members. Hootsuite has a few other ideas.


What’s Next

It’s possible that my advice will be completely obsolete in a year or two. Facebook makes changes and improvements every day. And there is no way to predict what will come next.

What’s important is to know when <“what’s next” comes about. And be prepared to make major shifts to your strategy based off what you hear.

This wasn’t the first change to the algorithm. And it certainly won’t be the last.

About the Author
Katie Fulton
Katie Fulton is Director of Account Management and Marketing at Brick Factory. She works with a diverse roster of nonprofits and has extensive experience in content creation, email marketing, and digital advertising. She also won an episode of Jeopardy!