Don't dismiss organic reach just yet...
Organic reach is dead—or so many marketing pros think. Some point to Facebook's 2015 algorithm changes, first reported by our own Ignite Social Media, as the death knell, because users now see less promotional content from brands in their News Feed. This is it: "Reachpocalypse." Others view the sudden rise of social ad spend (expected to top an eye-watering $41 billion next year) as the final nail in the coffin. In many ways, they're right. Organic reach isn't the marketing masterstroke it once was. And a lot of the time paid reach has overtaken it: paid posts on Facebook now reach more than five times as many people as organic posts, for example.
But: Organic Reach is Very Much Alive
This doesn't mean it's time to bury organic reach for good. It's still great for testing content, so marketers can see what works and what doesn't before they distribute posts more widely across the social sphere – and often pay big bucks to do so.
To make sure you’re getting the most from your organic reach in 2016/17, you should strive to do the following:
- Accept that not every piece of content will get the results you want.
- Use organic reach to organically test content before applying budget.
- Syndicate the content that performs best organically.
Not Every Piece of Content Will Get Results
Out of 100 pieces of content, only a few will resonate with readers. This is true for content creation in any niche. Take the New York Times' list of trending articles, for example, a concoction of the day's top stories, op-eds, and feature pieces. Top-performing content gets millions of visits. But there will be scores of articles that receive a tenth — perhaps even a fifth — of those page views. It's survival of the fittest.
Other content just never takes off. We have accepted that we can’t predict which of our influencer content is going to perform best – and you should too! But organic reach is the thing that gives you a built-in tool to make the most of your influencer marketing dollars.
This takes us neatly to our next recommendation:
Use Organic Reach to Test Content
As discussed, brands need to rethink organic reach. They should view it as a testing ground, a massive survey, a huge focus group ... one where marketers can test their content and see which posts perform best. We talked about this concept at Brand Innovators Content Marketing Atlanta in August, and we stick by it.
Our influencer marketing model utilizes organic reach and engagement to identify the pieces of content that show the most promise. We then optimize around those pieces. In essence, we use organic reach to A/B test our content in the wild before posts are distributed on a larger scale and have media budget applied.
If a piece of content performs well, move on to step three.
Only Syndicate Content That Performs Well
Companies often waste money on paid posts. Usually, they're unsure how consumers will react to their content. They might get lucky if a piece goes viral, but the chances of this happening are slim. It's like throwing everything at the wall and seeing what sticks.
This is why more brands are working with companies like Carusele and still believe in the power of organic reach. We team up with influencers who create loads of content; then we test it; then we syndicate the best of the bunch. Content is also aggregated to produce results over time, unlike paid reach that only lasts for as long as a company pays for it.
Boosting bad content costs two to four times more per impression (or per engagement) than posting good content, so there’s a real financial benefit to letting organic reach tell you what’s going to work best.
So, despite popular belief, organic reach isn't dead—at least, not yet. We think it does something other marketing techniques can't: it lets companies test their content before distributing posts more widely across social channels. We do this every day for brands around the world. We produce loads of content, test it, and then we syndicate the pieces that perform best. It's a tried and tested method that delivers results – in a common-sense kind of way.