28 Day Study of Reach After December 2nd, 2013

Around December 2, 2013 many Page admins reported a significant change in their Organic Reach. We analyzed the data and found a decrease for the typical Page. When we studied the data, we had a small sample size—a few days on either side of December 2nd. At that time we found that Organic Reach did drop for the typical Page from ~9.5% to about ~7.7%.

Enough time has passed to enable us to study a more substantial time frame. We’ve assembled a study examining the 28 days before and after December 2nd. We found that for the 28 days prior to December 2nd, Organic Reach was ~10.2%. The 28 days after December 2nd dropped to 7.8%. These numbers are very similar to the data we found just days after the change.

Organic-Reach-Change-Before-After-Dec2

How Was Each Content Type Impacted?

We looked at each individual content type as well. All of the content types decreased over this same time period. Each dropped off to roughly the same relative amount. Status Updates remain the clear favorite for pure Organic Reach, although we caution to only use content type for Reach. It’s most important to focus on the content types that drive the most engagement.

Organic-Reach-Change-Before-After-Dec2-Post-Type

What About Engagement Metrics?

Engagement per fan slightly decreased from 0.32% to 0.28%, however, this is within expected fluctuations. When Facebook makes a change that decreases average Reach, their goal is to maintain engagement. When Facebook maintains steady engagement it’s essentially a “win” from their perspective.

We also looked at Engagement Rate (Clicks + Likes + Comments + Shares / Organic Reach) for Links. Engagement Rate increased from 3.2% to 3.4%, which again is within expected fluctuations. We examined a wide variety of other metrics such as Viral Reach, Clicks per Person Reached, and Clicks per Fan – all of these metrics were within normal fluctuations. This implies that from an engagement perspective, numbers are holding steady.

Organic Reach Holding Steady Now

Examining how Organic Reach performed day over day illustrates a drop on or around December 2nd. After December 2nd, Reach tended to fluctuate around 7%. It appears that this number is holding relatively steady (aside from the dip around Christmas).

Organic-Reach-Change-Before-After-Dec2-Line-Chart

Conclusion

Organic Reach has decreased once again for Page admins. Now that we’ve studied the data with a more significant sample size, it appears that the drop in Reach may not be as severe as first thought. However, it does look like the drop is holding steady. It also appears that some brands were severely impacted, which we suspect is connected to a potential “quality score.” We’re still investigating how this score may be influenced.

Engagement maintained consistent ratios, which means overall Facebook should be happy with these changes. As usual, this continues to raise the bar for Facebook marketers and the news feed continues to be a more challenging place to get your content displayed.

How Was This Data Studied?

We examined ~100,000 posts over 11/4 -12/30 from approximately 1,000 Pages. For any general metrics, we averaged each Page’s metrics and looked at the median of all the Pages when examining aggregate data. Any data looking at “per fan” data examined the metric divided by the number of fans for that Page on the the day of posting.

15 Comments on “28 Day Study of Reach After December 2nd, 2013

  1. I manage large brands in the middle east and have seen a drop between 20% – 60% in reach on the pages, my question is how am I going to explain this to my clients who are spending through adverts on Facebook?

  2. Great article. Thanks for the terrific information! I have a couple of questions – 1) What formula are you using to determine Engagement? 2) When looking at Engagement Rate are you including both organic and paid results?

    • Chad Wittman

      1) Engagement is Likes + Comments + Shares. Sometimes we’ll include Clicks into the engagement metric for Links, but we always will note this inclusion.

      2) When looking at Engagement Rate, we only look organic results.

      • Berend

        @2 Can you distinguish organic engagement with paid engagement? I thought this was only possible for reach…

        • Chad Wittman

          Yes, you’re correct. We are only looking at posts without any Paid Media applied to them. Therefore, we are only looking at truly Organic Engagement.

  3. Good job!

    However I would recommend you to repeat the test considering a previous time of study. Our statistics show Facebook started to play with a lower reach much earlier, like a couple of weeks at least.

  4. Sean

    This might be a simple question but what type of post is a photo with a text status accompanying it considered. Same question for a photo with a link in the text status accompanying. Just trying to figure out these classifications so I know what to expect from engagement for each type of post.

    Thanks!

    • Chad Wittman

      It can be a bit confusing, but essentially a Photo exists in the post… it’s a Photo. The rest (description, link, etc) is essentially the description of the Photo. Hope that makes sense.

  5. What is the impact of using a 3rd party API to post with the new changes to Facebook? Does using Hootsuite, or other tools like Buffer, have a negative effect on Edgerank and/or engagement?

    • Chad Wittman

      We have not taken a look yet, but I would expect engagement to be lower than native publishing.

  6. We have seen a considerable drop in our Facebook strategy since I started using Hootsuit to build a social media plan for the Christmas break – I would say that the change to the algorithm and the fact I am no longer posting directly to Facebook has been a big factor in our downfall – organic reach dropped by around 75%

  7. Anthony

    What if I schedule my posts via Facebook’s scheduler. Does that negatively impact reach at all?

    • Paso

      This interests me as well. Does anyone know something about this?

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