The Decrease of Organic Brand Reach

January 2018 saw Facebook mogul Mark Zuckerberg announce a change to the social network’s algorithm. This modification had major implications for organic brand reach and caused widespread panic amongst those working in comms roles.

You can view Mark’s full comment here, but to summarise, the ‘new Facebook’ is now prioritising messages from friends and family over branded content.

“Recently we’ve gotten feedback from our community that public content — posts from businesses, brands and media — is crowding out the personal moments that lead us to connect more with each other… Based on this, we’re making a major change to how we build Facebook. I’m changing the goal I give our product teams from focusing on helping you find relevant content to help you have more meaningful social interactions.” Mark Zuckerberg

Reportedly this change in algorithm caused organic brand reach to slump to a dismal 2%.

If you think you’re out of the woods because your company doesn’t use Facebook to communicate with its audience, you’re wrong. Most other social networks have followed suit, or plan to. Take Instagram’s update, for example.

It comes as no surprise that the news of organic brand reach dropping to 2% was received as a major kick in the teeth for professionals working so hard to create good quality content. I mean, what good is quality content if visibility is non-existent?

The decrease of organic brand reach

What do we mean by organic brand reach?

Facebook defines organic brand reach as “the number of people who had an unpaid post from your page enter their screen”.

With this in mind, some argue that we’ve entered a “pay to play” world. That we need to place our hands in our pockets in order for our audience to place their eyes on our content. To some extent, I agree, but who has time to cry over spilt milk? My goals remain the same either way, but how I go about achieving them has to change. I’m sure this is the case for many comms professionals.

Increasing your organic brand reach without increasing your budget

So how do you increase brand visibility if you can’t really afford to “pay to play”? A section of Zuckerberg’s quotes hints at the best course of action.

“As we roll this out, you’ll see less public content, like posts from businesses, brands, and media. And the public content you see more will be held to the same standard – it should encourage meaningful interactions between people.”

In short, the answer is engagement.

Social network algorithms deem posts with high engagement as more popular, as such; the algorithm thinks others would benefit from seeing the posts too. The result? Better post placement in timelines, newsfeeds, Explore pages etc.

The Dialogue Marketing Cycle

It’s a common misconception shared by many companies that the first step towards increasing engagement and organic brand reach is to simply start engaging. In reality, if you’re to work smart you must listen first.

By listening to the conversations taking place on social media you can analyse the context of the current situation. Only once you have a good understanding of what your audience cares about should you engage.

The Dialogue Marketing Cycle is an easy framework to follow to help structure your comms and improve organic brand reach at the same time.

Let’s walk through each step.


There are billions of conversations taking place online every minute, especially on social media. We’re talking 500 million tweets sent per day, which is equivalent to 200 billion tweets a year according to Live Internet Stats.

Finding conversations that are applicable to you can be tricky without the use of appropriate social listening tools to help find what’s relevant amongst the digital noise. Fortunately, Meltwater’s media intelligence tool can help you gain that superhuman edge; learn more about our sophisticated Boolean search capabilities here.

Businesses that follow and listen to the relevant conversations, or how we like to describe them, “digital breadcrumbs”, are better placed to make more informed decisions around their social media communication plan. To quote the wise words of the great Dalai Lama,

“When you talk, you’re only repeating what you already know. But if you listen, you may learn something new.”

Social media conversations are enriched with valuable insights if you know what to listen out for. It’s worth keeping in mind that the types of conversations that you listen to should be linked with your objectives. With that being said, here are a few topic suggestions to start monitoring on social media, using Coca-Cola as an example.

Social media keyword tracking example:

  • Your brand name
    g. Coca-Cola
  • Your marketing/ PR/ social media campaign’s hashtag
  • Your senior employees e.g. the C-Suite
    CEO of Coca-Cola, “James Quincey”
  • Your product line
    “Diet Coke” “Sprite” “Fanta”
  • Your sponsors/ brand advocates/ campaigns you’re sponsoring
    “Olympic Games”
  • Competitor’s brand name
  • Wider industry keywords
    “FMCG” “retail” “sugar tax” “plastic” “grocery”


Having the ability to track conversations is useless if we can’t make sense of them.

Comms pros need more insights, not more data.

Following the above suggestions, you should now have a better idea of what to listen out for on social. The next step is to enrich the conversations with metrics in order to understand anomalies and patterns. Similarly to keywords, the metrics you use are determined by your objective and KPIs. Learn more about setting the right KPIs and metrics here.

You’ll find the metrics below are offered by most online social media monitoring tools, including Meltwater’s.

Find insights using the below metrics

  • Media exposure – tracks coverage volume over time
  • Social Reach vs. Social Volume – insight into the relationship between the number of potential viewers that have been exposed to a message and the amount of media coverage
  • Top sources – breaks down social media buzz by channel
  • Google Analytics widget – provides a clearer picture of what types of posts generated website traffic
  • Share of voice – compares coverage volume for two or more topics/ competitors
  • Sentiment – assesses the tone of a brand’s coverage over time
  • Trending themes – uncovers conversational patterns surrounding a topic
  • Top locations –  identifies the top markets discussing a brand or event
  • Top social posts – explains the social content with the highest social reach value within a given date range
  • Social reach – sheds light on the potential viewers that have been exposed to a particular post

The keyword analysis is presented in an easy-to-understand, live and interactive dashboard, like the one shown below. You can mix up the metrics you choose to include in the dashboard depending on who wants the insights. For example, your CEO will most likely be interested in the share-of-voice metric as this competitive comparison is linked to market share. Your research team will be more interested in spotting developing industry trends. A PR Manager would want to track the sentiment of their campaign by keeping tabs on its hashtag, and so on.

Let’s take the Coca-Cola example above and break some of the suggested keywords down using relevant metrics to aid analysis.
Increase organic visibility through keyword listening Engage:

Using your analysis guide engagement is the smartest way to improve organic brand reach as you can do more of what’s working and less of what’s not.

Here’s an example of how to implement insights into your content marketing strategy.

Improve organic reach through analysis

Meltwater offers an engagement tool that helps users manage all of their social media channels from one place, whether that’s Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or LinkedIn. One of the beauties of Meltwater Engage is that you can schedule posts and select the days and times when your community is most active, increasing your chance of organic brand reach.

Other ways to improve organic brand reach through engagement

Video content
Scheduling posts
Social media influencers
Instagram stories
User-generated content
Optimising image sizes

Now that you have a good idea of what to post, be sure to structure your thoughts in a content calendar. You should find one integrated into your engagement tool, and if not, you can learn how to build one in 7 simple steps here!