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Why Facebook Paid Social Builds Organic Reach – Here’s Why #122

Most Facebook Page owners complain about being forced to “pay to play” to get their content seen. But could it be a blessing in disguise?
In this episode of the popular Here’s Why digital marketing video series, Perficient Digital’s Mark Traphagen reveals a little-known extra benefit of regular use of Facebook paid promotion.

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Eric: Mark, it’s no secret that overall organic reach for Facebook pages has gone down over the past few years.
Mark: That’s right, Eric. As a matter of fact, as Facebook became the most popular social media platform, people found their news feeds overwhelmed by content. Facebook knows that people come to the platform primarily to be entertained and catch up with their family and friends. So they don’t necessarily want to see a lot of commercial content in their feeds.
Eric: And as a business, Facebook’s number one goal is to keep the users happy with using Facebook. So it’s understandable that they dialed back on the ability of Facebook pages to show their content in fans’ news feeds.
Mark: Maybe understandable from that perspective, but let’s be frank, it doesn’t hurt their bottom line, either. I mean, less organic reach means more page owners buying Facebook ads and boosted posts to try to get their reach back.
Eric: But, you don’t see that as all negative, right?
Mark: Right. As a marketer, I’m happy to pay. In fact, I will say, “Take my money, please, Facebook,” because doing so helps me accomplish at least two things I could never do, even if my content were seen by 100% of my page’s fans.
Eric: And what are those?
Mark: You know, first, the ability to reach people beyond my fans, and reach customers and people who might never have known my business existed. That’s always been one of the primary goals and best advantages of paid advertising, even long before Facebook. But on Facebook, that ability is even more powerful, because with paid promotion I can target exactly the audience I want for each post, something I can’t do with a TV ad or billboard.
Eric: Of course. Those advantages of paid Facebook advertising are well-known. But you wanted to share a lesser-known but very valuable advantage.
Mark: I sure do. So, it’s this. Regularly creating paid Facebook ads and boosted posts aimed at a well-targeted audience can be a rising tide that floats all the boats of your page. Now, what I mean by that is this. Along with some other Facebook experts like Dennis Yu, I’m seeing that our best-performing paid posts on Facebook also get bigger organic reach. And what’s more, as we’ve gotten better at our paid strategy, the organic reach of our whole page has improved significantly.
[Tweet “Can paid Facebook advertising actually help improve organic reach as well? Find out at”]
Eric: Right, and that’s amazing. But before we get into why you think that happens, explain the difference between organic and paid reach.
Mark: Organic reach is the number of people who see any of your posts naturally. I mean, without any paid promotion. At best, that’s typically limited to people who are fans of your page already, and maybe the people they share your posts with. Paid reach is how many people see posts or ads you pay to promote. Depending on your targeting, that can be a much larger number because you’re reaching beyond just your own fans.
Eric: Those sound like two different things. But you said that your paid reach could actually help your organic reach. How does that work?
Mark: Okay, my theory is that Facebook uses paid posts as a kind of trial balloon. Since you’re probably putting those posts in front of what should be an ideal audience, Facebook watches closely the engagement they get. Now if that audience really seems to like the content, I think Facebook figures it’s a safe bet it will be attractive to your friends as well and gives it more organic reach.
Eric: Obviously that has a lot of value. Paying to boost your posts can not only get them in front of new audiences, but help more of the people who already have some affinity for your brand to see them as well.
Mark: But as they say in late-night TV commercials, “Wait, there is more!”
Eric: Okay! What?
Mark: Well, we see evidence that this organic boost effect goes beyond the post with paid promotion. Facebook seems to take both your organic and paid metrics into account in assessing the overall value of your page, and so it looks like this paid strategy can cause all your posts to get more organic reach.
Eric: That’s pretty cool. Sounds like adding paid Facebook promotion into your social media mix is even smarter than we thought.
Mark: Let me throw in one more thing again. I don’t have the data to prove this one, but it makes sense to me, so I’ll share it. I believe that residual organic effect from your paid promotions will be most powerful for pages that have built their following legitimately. And by the legitimately, I mean they earned a following because the people who follow them are actually interested in what they do and share.
I think Facebook can assess how legit a page’s following is likely to be, and they aren’t going to waste time pushing more of your posts to people who never really cared about you in the first place. So I think all we’ve ever learned in the past about building a valuable social media following is as important now as it ever was.
Eric: Thanks, Mark.

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Mark Traphagen

Mark Traphagen was our Content Strategy Director for Perficient Digital until February of 2019. He has been named one of the most influential content and social media authors in numerous industry listings.

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