If you want to look at it a certain way, Facebook has almost played the perfect game. Convince businesses to buy adverts to build likes, then pull the rug out from underneath their organic reach meaning your posts will reach a very small portion unless you pay to get to more.
Now, putting your pitch forks away, there are some very real and well-meaning reasons why organic reach is declining. Facebook doesn’t want to overload users with brand messages, and once they had encouraged businesses to hoover up likes they faced a dilemma – so many posts to serve, but not enough space in the news feed to show it in.
So “organic” reach declined. You rarely reached 100% anyway, as Facebook’s rules on time decay meant every single one of your likes would have to be logged in within 48 hours to make it relevant. But within the past year to 18 months the decline has been rapid.
Around the same time, Facebook pushed “boost posts” on users. These enabled people to pay to reach a defined portion of their audience, at a cost, and a group of their friends. Again, this depends on how you want to look at it – in theory, if *every* brand wanted to boost post at the same time then Facebook would have the same issue. But many forms of economics work like this – it won’t happen so why worry about it?
But what does this mean for me? Good question – the answer in part lies in where your page is at. If you’ve already got a decent number of likes (say over 1,000) I would say you’d be better off using any spend to reach that audience rather than trying to grow it further. Organic reach really doesn’t seem to scale – i.e. reaching 10% of 1,000 per post probably doesn’t mean you’re going to reach 10% of 10,000.
The value of Facebook now comes with an asterisk. Without regular spend it’s an incredibly tough game to play, but it’s still by far the most rewarding if you’re happy to play ball and spend a little. It still has a massive audience, it still knows more about that audience than almost any other public database in history – and it’s still where thousands of potential new customers of yours are waiting.