What Do You Need to Know About Organic Reach?


You hear about “organic reach” but do you really know what it is?

You probably know that paid-reach is when you pay to have your ad or your content put in front of the people you want to reach in search engine results or on social media platforms. Organic reach is when you reach these same people without having to pay. It’s kind of like winning the lottery or cheating the system…well, that is how it can feel. In reality, organic reach refers to methods used to obtain a high ranking on a search engine results page in unpaid, algorithm-driven results on a given platform--basically, you followed the rules so your content ranks higher than others.

Organic reach and paid reach became a part of regular business lingo with Google. In fact, it is still common to hear businesses say “I want to be on the first page of Google”. And Google regularly releases best practices or requirement updates for how they rank and display content. As social media has grown in popularity, social media platforms have adopted similar models because they too are search engines. But instead of searching the internet as a whole, they primarily (or only) search their platform. Though, while similar, there are differences in how content is sorted and displayed. What is consistent is each social media platform and each search engine is proactively making changes to tailor content results to the individual user.

So what does this mean for your business?

This means that not only do you need to be aware of the rules, but your results are also increasingly being driven by your next-best-customer. It’s about how THEY are using search engines and social media platforms. How they use them will determine what they see. When I give my presentations, I explain it like this: “Imagine each and every one of us were to open our device—phone, Surface, laptop, iPad, whatever you use and search the exact same phase on the exact same search engine or social media platform. Each one of us would get different results based on how we use that particular tool.” This explanation is generally the beginning of their ah-ha moment as to why they are not getting the results that they want and leads them to start asking different questions. Even if the question is now "well what should I be asking or doing?"

In the early days of social media, the theme was “more is better” with everything, but today…and tomorrow, not so much.  In early 2018, Facebook started making major changes to its algorithm to favor friends and family connections over businesses pushing their mainly impersonal content on its followers. To this day, Facebook still emphasizes one on one engagement over generic posts. 

Before, Facebook would boost your analytics if your business page post was in a users' news feed. Now it will only boost your analytics if it appears on the screen the user is looking at whether they see your post or not. Facebook then took it further by decreasing the post's visibility if it specifically targeting click-bait posts (posts that tell the viewer to “like this” or “share this” or “comment below” or “you won’t believe…”). Even today, if you try to run an ad with these phrases it will be rejected. 

Anyway, many companies believe or fear that Facebook is anti-business or that they are intentionally out to get small businesses. I doubt that as implementing these changes cost them $3.3B in revenue.

With LinkedIn, your content is prioritized based on your interaction with other LinkedIn users—the more you engage with them, the higher priority your content will receive when you post. They also took into account the people who only ‘like’ posts or always comment as “great article” or “great post”. That is not sincere nor intentional engagement, so those actions give you less credibility which means your posts will rank lower in the LinkedIn algorithm and fewer people will see your posts.

YouTube prioritizes content based on relevance, engagement, and quality. Relevance is all about the technical aspects of your title, description, and tags. Engagement is the length of time that people watch, like, and comment on your videos as well as how often they watch them. And, quality is about your channel's ability to 'prove' that you are a trusted authority by consistently meeting the previous two requirements. In addition to these, YouTube’s algorithm also draws on a user’s historical views and a video-specific assigned score, one that weighs both novelty and frequency of channel uploads.

Instagram appears to be the least optimized platform, but in reality, is probably the most direct. Keywords are hashtags on Instagram. Most users will likely discover you through a hashtag on a specific post. So do your research and identify your primary and secondary hashtags and be consistent with how you use them in posts, image alt text, and comments--the key is variety and relevance. 

SEO and SMO are long-term strategies. It can be frustrating when you don't see results right away. The lure of a quick-fix to see a boost in followers or organic reach can seem too good to pass up, but the results can be disastrous if you get caught. 

Gone are the days of quantity matters and here to stay are the days of quality wins. It’s time to stop focusing on the cheap fixes and asking the wrong questions. It’s time to actually get to know your clients, your prospective clients, and the market. Because while technically, Facebook is the largest country in the world, not everyone on the platform is in your market, is a prospective client, or would make a great next-best client.

Businesses favor automation because it’s easy and one less thing they need to do. Your next-best client and other consumers favor sincerity and being heard or valued. The algorithms are reflecting this and only the brands that make these modifications are going to thrive.

Organic reach is not dead, social media is still not free. It’s just different than what it was and generally more accurate than it’s ever been (there is still room for improvement). So don’t be discouraged. Start with really getting to know your target audience and client avatar. Then create content so when it is read or engaged with your market feels like it was created specifically for them. Focus on brand building and the sales will follow, not the other way around.

There’s Help Out There to Help You Get it Right

If you’re not sure how to achieve organic reach and your approach to marketing hasn’t been successful thus far, it’s important to get help. There are plenty of marketing agencies out there that can help you, and it’s best to choose an agency that understands your niche. For example, if you run a business focused on selling software, it makes the most sense to use SaaS marketing services. 

Omicle delivers brand clarity, marketing strategy, and operational efficiency to prepare leaders to scale their business. If you are ready to scale your business, contact us today to get started.

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