Matt Navarra: Organic Reach Isn’t Dead. Here’s Why...

Learn how to boost your organic social media reach despite of the algorithms.
TJ Kiely
TJ Kiely
September 4, 2018 - 4 min. read

Did you know every time you log on to Facebook there are 1,500 stories competing to appear in your News Feed? And, only 300 of those stories actually make the cut? The competition for space in the Facebook News Feed is getting tougher everyday as more and more content is produced, published and shared.

And as many brands know, the growing scarcity of space in the Facebook News Feed has lead to a serious decline in organic reach across social networks. From January to June 2017, the average number of engagements with branded content on Facebook fell more than 20%.

Although this paints a gloomy picture for brands trying to organically engage their audiences on social media, Matt Navarra, Social Media Consultant, believes there’s still hope.

Ahead of his presentation at Spark on how to extend your reach in a pay-to-play world, Matt gave us some tips for marketers looking to increase their organic reach on Facebook….

Social media oganic reach

Q: Organic reach has been declared “dead” by some for quite some time now. How would you describe its current status?

Matt: The ever increasingly algorithmic world of social media news feeds and the growth in demand for digital advertising means that the old world of organic reach is no longer the free ride it once was.

However, as always, content creators and brands that understand the mechanics of social platforms who also publish awesome content can still score viral hits with little to no spend. If you stay alert to what’s trending, know your audience, and stay agile, you can achieve impressive results.

If you are still hoping to post average content across multiple platforms with little creativity or strategy behind it… I wish you good luck!

Q: Both Facebook and Instagram have shaken things up this year with new features and algorithms. Which ones have been hardest on organic reach – and have any actually aided it?

Matt: The most discussed change this year was Facebook adjustments to its news feed algorithm. It now favours what it calls ‘meaningful engagement’. Asking your audience to ‘Tag a friend’ or ‘Comment below’ (amongst many other overused tactics) will now be punished by the algorithm and perform poorly. We have seen many ‘viral publishers’ hit hard by this change, and brands have had to switch up their strategy to drive more comments and keep eyeballs on their videos for longer periods of time.

Facebook organic reach

Source: Facebook

Instagram has also been busy this year with a never-ending stream of feature updates for Stories. With these enhanced creative tools, the ability for brands to create captivating and more elaborate content has been made a lot easier. The marketers that have embraced these new features and experimented the most seem to have made the most gains.

Q: What do you think brands’ most common mistakes or misconceptions are where reach is concerned?

Matt: Brand marketers too often hyper-focus on reach and forget that a broad audience of 100,000 having the potential to see their content (reach) is less important than targeted content that drives actions that deliver on their objectives (sales, account growth, engagement, brand awareness).

Reaching someone does not mean they actually engaged with the content, or took any actions from the post. Brands should focus more on understanding their audience, improving their targeting, creating awesome content, then monitoring KPIs that show meaningful responses to their efforts linked to their business goals.

Q: Is there an organic social media campaign or tactic that has caught your eye this year?

Matt: It caught my eye for all the wrong reasons, and wouldn’t suggest copying it, but there has been a rise in Facebook Pages still desperately trying to game the algorithm through short-lived ‘tricks’.

An examples of this was where Facebook Pages split up a meme into 4 pieces/images and making one part of the image a static looping video. The purpose being to obtain additional reach through Facebook treating the post as a video or containing video which often appears to be favoured by Facebook’s algorithm.

These cheap-looking tactics often deliver short-term gains and are quickly patched by Facebook to prevent spammy activity such as this being used widely. The time spent chasing the algorithm could be better spent focussing on creating great content and analysing what is working with your audience.

Q: At Spark, you’ll be talking about – among other things – how to extend organic reach in this increasingly pay-and-play world. Mind giving us a tip for how to do that as a teaser?

Matt: It’s more of reminder than a tip (and it’s been said time and time again!) BUT killer content is the key to success 9 times out of 10. If you create high-quality, topical, and engaging content, you have done the hardest part. The organic reach and achievement of other KPIs you are tracking will come a lot easier.

Facebook organic reach

Tools like Falcon’s Measure offer insights about your Instagram audience to help you plan your content strategy.

You can spend all the time in the world on tricks, hacks, loopholes, gimmicks etc. but if the content you are posting is dull, uninspiring, or does not match your audiences expectations, the time will have been wasted.

Key Takeaways:
With changes to the Facebook algorithm making it harder to reach your audience organically, success on social media today requires precision targeting and deep audience insights. Here’s a recap of the main points from our interview with Matt that you’ll want to remember:

  • Always make sure you know who your audience is!
  • There is no substitute for quality when it comes to content
  • Reaching a targeted audience is more beneficial than reaching a broader one
  • Try experimenting with the latest features as soon as they are released on a platform