Social Media Tools, Facebook

This Chart Explains the Reachpocalypse and Why Facebook is Laughing All the Way to the Bank

facebook reachpocalypseJay Baer Blog PostFacebook is the largest voluntary, non-religious organization in the history of the world. They are not dumb.

Facebook organic reach for business pages is plummeting, and will drop even further because Facebook is a public company that has fiduciary responsibilities to their shareholders to maximize returns.

Fundamentally, Facebook cares about THEIR business, not about YOUR business. (click to tweet)


This chart we made shows Facebook’s declining organic reach (according to a widely cited study from Social@Ogilvy) charted against Facebook’s stock price during the same period. As organic reach dropped from approximately 12% to 6% (and now often at 1%), Facebook’s stock price moved from nearly $50 to nearly $70, adding billions of dollars in market capitalization.

Yes, Facebook encouraged businesses to build and reach audiences for “free” on their platform (until that free ride ended), and that should be no surprise whatsoever. Clear-eyed business observers have been raising the alarm about building your house on rented land for years, but Facebook has still been able to pull off the greatest Gillette scam ever (you give away the razor, and then sell the blades).

History Repeats

One of my favorite recent articles about this engagement decline is  “Facebook’s Declining Organic Reach a Real Nightmare for Marketers” from CIO Magazine online. It includes this quote from an agency media strategist: “It’s become a real nightmare because your fans and likes can’t even find you in some cases. When I post to Instagram I have a much better idea of how many people I’m going to reach.”

Let’s remember that Facebook OWNS Instagram, and if you think they aren’t going to eventually pull the EXACT same move on Instagram you are naive. 

4 Things You Can Do About Your Facebook Problem

You have 4 options at this point:

1. Stop using Facebook as your key social media hub

Google + is looking better and better, right?

2. Pay for the reach you used to enjoy at no cost

How much is that engagement really worth to your business? The side benefit of this Reachpocalypse is that it may force more social media people to really study the impact of social on business outcomes. Great job by Chris Penn from Shift putting together this handy “what will Facebook cost me?” tool.

3. Get better at Facebook

It’s not as though it’s now IMPOSSIBLE to be good at Facebook. It’s just a lot, lot harder. If you want free reach, you need to do extraordinary, useful things. Every week we document an amazing social media case study here on the blog, and another one in the Social Pros podcast in the “Holy Social!” segment. There are great ideas in there.

In social media marketing, average is no longer adequate. (please click to tweet)

4. Change the messenger

You can’t fully replace your corporate Facebook program with this approach, but with reach evaporating for business pages, aren’t your employees and current customers and advocates now the very best way for you to distribute your message on Facebook? I delivered a presentation about this at the recent Social Media Marketing World conference, and I’ll be writing a blog post about it (possibly with an accompanying BlogShare) that provides details and how-tos.


So what’s your plan? Are you going to abandon ship, or work harder and smarter? Either way, why don’t we stop bitching about Facebook, realize that they snookered the business community, and get back to work? 

Facebook Comments


  1. Stephen Smith says

    Jay you know I love your stuff, with that said I still think part of this is wrong. (Or at least it’s not as bad as it’s being made out to be.)

    I’ve been carefully monitoring the reach of a variety of the Pages I work with and I can tell you that while numbers fluctuating is to be expected, from the point of view of a small business page manager I have yet to see a big decline in reach yet. Now this could be for a number of reasons, and as someone who believes in taking a scientific approach to my strategy I have to accept that my strategy might just suck and that what I thought was good Reach was in fact crumby reach. Or (this is my suspicion) Facebook is “ending the free ride” for the big boys. I still think the organic power of smaller Pages is alive and kicking for the most part.

    (Other factors to consider that I can’t confirm or deny might be playing a role in my observations- Most of the Pages I manage are smaller businesses with less than 1000 Likes. – Most of those Pages are located in smaller towns/cities with less competition for fan attention. – And there’s more… but you get the point.)

    I’m anxiously waiting to see what happens in the long run with all of this. And I think you’re right about Instagram…… which saddens me since I love that platform. So my thoughts summed up, little pages take advantage of the gap while you can. The door is opened just enough to cash in. And if you’re a developer here’s your chance to create “the next Facebook” because there’s going to be some angry users out there looking for a different platform to get their message out to consumers.

    :) Cheers

  2. April Dawne says

    I’m always trying to make it work FOR my clients, regardless of the roadblocks FB tries to create.

  3. says

    GREAT post! Captures the reality of what FB has done and the frustration we all feel as a result. Also the “don’t build your house on rented land” is HUGE advice that we all need to remember. Brian Clark and Copyblogger say that all the time too. Your website/blog/email list should ALWAYS be your main focus and your home base for your best content, etc., because building your entire platform on somebody else’s channel is just too risky.

    Although I’ve been on it forever I don’t see G+ as a thriving community right now – of course I’m not putting in the time there either.

    I am finding massive success on LinkedIn, especially now with its new publishing platform, but I’m sure the same “pay for play” exposure game will be coming there soon too.

    Anyway great post Jay – thank you for sharing it!

  4. kerryrego says

    I’ve noticed a few percentage points of drop in visibility in my posts, nothing like what everyone is reporting. I think two things – 1) It’s my job to be good at Facebook so I have an advantage there 2) Rates have dropped in some cases to 1% because these people were lazy about content, taking the easy way out, not posting enough, or are simply using it wrong. I’m not sad for them but it’s hard to say to people, “The reason your reach has gone down is because of you. The “market” corrected itself and stopped serving poor content.” It’s a great wake up call to those that bet the farm on Facebook and hopefully they will start paying attention to properties that they control and that benefit them in the long run.

  5. says

    There’s always Twitter :-) Thanks for an insightful post Jay! What’s fascinating for me as that one of my clients has enjoyed increased reach in the past couple of months. All he’s doing is posting images of his work (which happens to be pools he’s building) once a day and the results have been magic.

    • says

      Google+ is the second largest social media site in the English speaking world. Bigger than Twitter, and gives far more site hits. Your taunts are antiquated.

  6. Ádám Csillag says

    Google+ is the way to go if you want any social channels at all. I have 50000 likes on one of my FB pages, the problem is Facebook doesn’t help in SEO, peoples on FB doesn’t click on links they forget to share or like – so no money from that. I work with really large numbers and the problem is that I’m in a country where the language isn’t English this means 1-3 Million people, the so called “content is king” mantra simply doesn’t work here. No Twitter, Google+ and other channels as well (Youtube is good cos the lack of competition but also harder to make content). My best organic reach was around 7000 (from 50.000!) people so far, (after the FB changes) the post was about the weather :D, but those people not interested in any product, same with the share/like games – they just there to win something. Why Google+ then? cos the +1 can really help in the Search Engines, and that’s what counts (forget the links I’m not talking about that – they all rel=nofollow anyway). Ofc I’m really not interested in selling anything in any social platforms – it just doesn’t worth the time compared to linkbuilding / content generation / blogging. Make another website link it to the main – much better than anything that these channels can offer – and it will be yours alone, the people who you get from Google Search are converting muchmuchmuch better – they want something that’s why they searched the term (those numbers are REAL – not a fake “paid reach 36.000 people bullshit which gets lost in the newsfeed”). Google+ have some real advantage when you connect it with Map / Blog / Site / Youtube – because you offer every time the google+ button then the poor man clicks on it, and BOOM every content/product etc will jump to the first page when he/she makes a normal search afterwards, cos Google will give an advantage for the whole site in his/her browser (assumed he/she still logged in with his/her Google Account – which is pretty automatic so we can count on that). So the job: build large content on the main site, integrate google+ buttons, get +1 by any means necessary and you will have the user forever, not through your channel(forget the whole social media thingy) but from the Google search itself what can be more satisfying than that? – even when his/her friends making a search you will have improved visibility. And +1’s will gives you higher Authority which means better visibility and ranking when you blogging etc. In short: don’t think you can make business in a single social channel use it to enchance your site ranking in the Google search. (ofc there are exceptions but when you selling in large numbers FB just doesn’t cut it – if you simply posting jokes then it can be okey, but still a one way street, G+ offers more because of the SEO advantage it gives you.)

    • Ádám Csillag says

      OFC this is true in my country, here you can win in Google pretty easy, and you can’t have that many people in social channels – no numbers, no money. I meant about Youtube is good because if you want to put product videos on your site (which helps) at least you can embed your own ones, but if you have any commercial plans forget that as well.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *