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Which Social Media Platforms Offer The Greatest Organic Reach?

Posted on January 7, 2016 by in Resources | 23 comments

Which Social Media Platforms Offer The Greatest Organic Reach?

Organic reach is one of the treasures brands seek when they go in search of social media visibility across various platforms.

With more than 1.5 billion monthly users on Facebook and 316 million monthly users on Twitter, brands do not want to miss an opportunity to communicate with a huge audience, potentially for free.

But free reach on social media platforms is gradually declining.

Why?

The social media space is becoming crowded giving rise to a stiff competition for attention. The Facebook News Feed these days is a tussle for attention as more content is being shared. Also, social media companies want businesses to pay up if they want to reach more people.

Is it the end of free use of social media to reach consumers? No, different social networks come with their own unique opportunities and challenges, as well as audiences, calling for a diversified mix of accounts to reach consumers.

But which platforms offer the greatest organic reach?

Let’s find out.

Facebook

In November 2014, Facebook announced that it will reduce overly promotional page posts in the News Feed. Below is an example of an overly promotional page post:

Facebook stopped overly promotional posts in 2014

Image source: Facebook newsroom

This meant that brands could no longer have the same level of organic reach. Thereafter, organic reach dropped drastically while the company smiled to the bank.

With a decline in organic reach and increase in paid promotion, Facebook's stock price increased

Image source: Convince and Convert

A study conducted by Locowise revealed that Facebook pages with over a million likes have 2.27% average organic reach.

The study found that the higher the page likes the less the organic reach and this is expected to near zero by year end.

For example, posts by Beyonce on her Facebook page with over 63.5 million likes can only reach just around 1.4 million fans if there’s no sponsored content. Beyonce would have to pay to be seen by more than 2.5 percent of her fans on Facebook.

Organic reach of Beyonce's Facebook page is quite low

Image source: Facebook

However, there are ways to perform better in terms of organic reach. By publishing content that fascinates the audience (trust me, average is no longer adequate), posting when your target audience is the most active, and posting videos, you can improve your organic reach.

HubSpot has a great list of tips on how to improve organic reach on Facebook.

Twitter

Twitter is one of the major social media platforms brands use to engage with consumers. A survey of the top 50 global brands by Forrester revealed that top brands post more frequently on Twitter than on any other social media platform:

Of the top 50 global brands, most use Twitter to post each week

Image source: Forrester

The study cited an average of 18.3 posts per week on Twitter.

However, these brands can only reach about 3.61% of their followers with a tweet. Twitter reports this as impressions – the number of times followers see a tweet.

For instance, a brand like Forbes with around 7.8 million followers can only reach just about 281,580 of its followers per tweet.

Twitter's organic reach is low

Image source: Twitter

Also, average interactions on the micro-blogging site are at 0.03%. This means that for every one million Twitter followers there are 300 interactions, according to this Forrester study.

To increase your Twitter organic reach, leverage real-time events or trending conversations, co-create tweets with influencers, and include auto-expanded photos & videos. These have been proven to drive organic reach on Twitter according to a survey of 200 brands.

Google+

Google+ was first introduced back in 2011 to compete with other social media platforms. But since then, it has failed to gain traction. Google recently removed most of the functions from the platform, including Hangouts. Now only few features are left: Collections and Communities being the main ones.

While there are no stats available on the organic reach of the revamped Google+, the previous version of the platform suffered from declining reach. Organic reach on the platform may slide further as Google+ links and reviews are no longer included in search results.

Also, interaction or engagement with posts on the platform is 0.09% of a brand’s follower count.

To increase your organic reach on this platform, expand your Google+ circles, get active within your brand’s community as well as other communities, and have a regular posting schedule.

But going ahead, it would be unrealistic to label Google+ as a major social network considering that it is gradually being killed by Google.

LinkedIn

There are about 400 million LinkedIn members across 200 countries and territories of the world. Among the cumulative, 100 million people actively use the platform on a monthly basis.

Although LinkedIn has similar functioning as other social networks on the list, your status updates and posts can record a 20% organic reach. This figure can rise to 60% if you post at least 20 times a month.

For example, the enterprise cloud computing company Salesforce wanted to engage followers, drive event attendance, avoid message oversaturation and reach regional audiences with localized content. They used LinkedIn targeted status updates to reach the desired audience.

LinkedIn has better organic reach, b2b brands love it

Image source: LinkedIn

The result was a 30% increase in engagement and reach. It’s critical to note that companies with at least 100 LinkedIn followers can share targeted updates.

Compared to other platforms, LinkedIn emerged as the clear front-runner sending at least 64% of traffic to businesses from social media sites.

In another study, it sent 7000 visitors more than any other platform.

More so, Hubspot studied over 4500 businesses and found that LinkedIn referral traffic converts at 2.74% on the average compared to Facebook referral traffic and Twitter referral traffic, which converted at 0.77% and 0.69% respectively.

To increase organic reach on LinkedIn, share relevant and engaging content like case studies, participate in LinkedIn groups, and post at the right times.

Pinterest

While there are still so many brands yet to take advantage of this social network, 93 out of the world’s top 100 brands have accounts on Pinterest.

Organic reach on Pinterest is higher than that of Facebook and Twitter because the number of people who see your pins is often greater than the number of your followers.

Every tweet on Twitter lasts 24 minutes and a Facebook post will get you 90 minutes of visibility in the News Feed. However, a pin can last 151,200 minutes, according to WebpageFX.

Another study noted that Pinterest pins are worth more than Facebook likes. On brand’s interactions with their fans as a percentage of their followers, Pinterest came second only to Instagram.

Omnichannel Marketing cited the case of Townhouse, a premier cracker brand. Townhouse enjoyed exponential reach on Pinterest without any monetary spend. Not only it became the top cracker brand on the platform, but received 1.5 million impressions per month.

The source reported that 63 percent of followers viewed at least one pin from the brand on a monthly basis. If this example is anything to go by, Pinterest is ripe for brands looking to organically reach their target audience.

To increase organic reach on Pinterest, add the Pin It button to your blog, leverage group boards, and cross promote your pins on your other platforms.

Instagram

Instagram recorded over 300 million monthly active users in just a few years after its inception. 20% of the globe’s internet users are registered on Instagram, with 47% of users accessing the app on their phone and 53% on their tablet.

The platform has a 20% organic reach. Big brands like Christian Louboutin are taking advantage of the organic reach potential of the platform while it lasts.

In the past three years, Christian Louboutin has been able rely on organic posts to grow its Instagram following and the platform has been a major driver of organic traffic since organic reach plummeted on Facebook.

Instagram drives the most interactions for Christian Louboutin

Image source: L2inc

According to TrackMaven, Instagram has the highest percentage of content going viral. Not only does it outperform all other social networks, it blows them away with 49% of photos and 60% of videos reaching 250+ interactions.

To increase your reach on the platform organically, experiment with different types of content (visuals, quotes, etc.), use relevant hashtags, and engage with your audience by responding to their comments or commenting on their profiles.

Social Media Examiner has useful tips on how to increase Instagram visibility.

Note: The content you post on Instagram can also be used on your Facebook page. This can be done by using the auto-post feature, and doing so will save you time and resources spent on creating separate content for your Facebook page. Also, you can increase the diversity and reach of your Facebook page by using your Instagram follower’s post (make sure to seek their permission and give credit).

Bottom line

The implication of the analysis is that Facebook and Twitter are clearly pay-to-play platforms. On the other hand, the bane of Google+ is the drop in active users and the restriction on its links and reviews appearing on search result pages. However, Pinterest, LinkedIn and Instagram are doing well in terms of organic reach.

In the end, the social media platforms with the most organic reach in descending order are Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Twitter and Facebook. That said, the choice of platforms to promote your brand depends on your marketing goals and the demography of active users you want to reach on the platform.

Article thumbnail image by igor kisselev / shutterstock.com

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23 Comments

  1. Interesting subject. So, if I have a new business and I want to show them to the local people, Facebook ads is still the best answer?

    • Before paying for an ad, I would suggest to clearly define who you want to reach with your marketing actions. It is important to know your target audience, their behaviour on social media and the platforms they use most to be up-to-date.

      Great article by the way, very informative 🙂

  2. I think that you should also have included Reddit as it can drive a ton of organic traffic to your site.

  3. I’m not a natural instagrammer, twitter makes much more sense to me and I feel like it’s more my style maybe I’m old. But after reading this post, I decided to give it another try. I have only 50 followers on Instagram and close to 3k on twitter and got the same amount of likes for the same photo.

    I wonder how I can turn this potential to traffic.

  4. I’d really like to hear the author’s thoughts on how where SnapChat fits into that.

    • Snapchat is probably the single best real time interactive social tool out there. I also believe it to be the best real time viral social tool. It is even better than WhatsApp if your trying to reach Tweens and College students.

      The best way to gain access is to first develop relationships with Snapchat influencers. Unfortunately you can’t use Snapchat to find them. So where do you find them? Youtube, Facebook. Twitter. Use those tools to identify 12-25 year old users with large follower accounts. They typically have a ton of Snapchat connections.

      Once you have the right partners the rest is just a standard marketing exercise of generating and testing your offers and paying your partners when you’re successful. It takes a bit of effort to establish a network, but as your success grows so do your connections. In time you will have your own network.

      Snapchat is all about REAL TIME.

  5. If you want to reach your audiences on Social Media, don’t use organic search. That makes sense considering that the way Social Media platforms make money is not based on organic search. They set up such that they have a lot of users and audiences. If you want to promote to these users, you have to pay for ads.

    Whereas Google loves organic search bc they makes most of their money off ads in the search results. The higher quality content you provide, the better for Google users to find the right info, the more likely these users will come back, the more likely these ads (in search results) will be click.

  6. Excellent and extremely informative article, Dan. Congratulations.
    Please, keep on providing this kind of well documented information.

  7. Thank you for such viable information with organic reach and looking for the top media platforms was good to read. Also Social Bookmarking is another trend of the future while it’s still free. Thanks for reading.

  8. Social media marketing has nothing to do with posting endless crap about your company in a social stream. Defining an interaction as someone having seen your post is complete crap as well.

    If you believe that people seeing a post counts as an interaction then you are going to be very disappointed when thousands of viral views do not yield a single transaction in your cart.

    One of the most common lies so called social media experts tout is that organic reach matters. Worse yet is the flawed definition of an interaction they promote.

    A true interaction, and the only one that counts in my book, is when you have a DIRECT one on one exchange with someone who then carries out a TRANSACTION in response to the exchange.

    That is the only type of interaction that counts. Everything else is just a number on a report that your social marketing expert uses to justify services that don’t do squat.

    The social media platform you choose should not be based on its organic reach at all. It should be based on the tools it provides that allow you to accomplish three critical steps.

    1. Does its search function allow you to identify people who are self referencing a need?

    In Twitter you can search the live stream for people within 10 miles of your restaurant who tweet “I’m Hungry”. If you retweet that comment and add a coupon discount for lunch, you will be shocked by the effectiveness of this use of social media.

    2. Does the social platform allow you to directly communicate one on one with people in real time?

    At some point your link bait needs to result in people seeking you out for a chat. Real INTERACTIONS are what drive TRANSACTIONS. It is essential that the platform support real time communications.

    3. Does the platform provide you rich methods of pinning INTERACTIVE OFFERS in a highly visible location?

    We don’t give a hoot about feeding content junkies. The purpose of the profile is to drive visitors to INTERACT. The most important content you provide your visitor is how they can INTERACT NOW in RESPONSE TO YOUR OFFERS.

    Some platforms are better suited to this goal than others.

    Remember this: REAL INTERACTIONS CREATE TRANSACTIONS.

    A POST VIEW IS NOT A TRUE INTERACTION…

    Every single social marketing dollar you spend should be a total focus on REAL INTERACTIONS that result in REAL TRANSACTIONS.

    2 Centavos Deposited.

    • I find this a true valuable addition to the article! Thanks

    • Good 2 Centavos Jerry. Thanks for your comments. Made this article even more valuable.

    • I agree that organic reach shouldn’t be the most important metric in the short-term but you can’t just say organic reach doesn’t matter since you don’t see results immediately.

      Building brands take time and effort. Post views matter, likes matter, comments matter. Even if they don’t turn into transactions immediately, they help to create potential customers.

      1) There’re some people who are ready to buy your product/service (Around 5-15%. Of course, this figure is different for everyone. I’m just giving a rough average)
      2) There’re some who needs to warm-up to that idea first
      3) There’re some who wouldn’t buy it no matter what you do. (Around 15-25%)

      If you PUSH INTERACTIONS with the second group, there’s a big risk that they’d take it as a hard sell and you can easily push them to the third group. A smart marketing strategy for the second group is to let them see and like what you’re doing first. (And organic reach matters here.) And not only once but several times so that their perception will change and they’ll be ready to buy your products.

      I’m sorry but saying organic reach doesn’t matter is just an easy way out and short-sighted.

      • It really depends on your market and nature of your business.

        For promoting complicated services, like a niche consultancy area for example, content that helps build awareness and curiosity about the topic do lead to actual interaction and consequently business, but it takes time. As the previous poster said, they need to warm up to the idea.

      • Blah, Blah, Blah. You clearly do not make your living selling transaction driven marketing services. I checked out your site. You sell DESIGN SERVICES. Designers are focused on branding. They think the site design creates transactions. They are wrong.

        As someone who actually sells marketing services, the clients we serve demand immediate results every single day. Failure to create transactions is a quick way to terminate a marketing contract.

        The idea that Likes matter is laughable. I have spent years running Facebook campaigns, boosted post, and Like campaigns. We have carefully tracked real customers who have liked our pages, or followed us on Twitter, or interacted in Instagram, Snapchat, and a range of lesser channels.

        The type of posting you describe doesn’t move the needle on customer transactions short term or long term. In some cases it actually causes customers to ignore your brand.

        On the other hand when you run a campaign designed to create real time interactions based on prospects self referencing a need in a status post or a tweet, right now, that works extremely well. It increases the number of new customers significantly.

        Once you have a customer in the fold, email marketing and customer service interaction is the BEST METHOD of obtaining repeat business from these customers.

        And if you do it right, they appreciate it.

        Using your statistics if you spend $1000 a month in online marketing and focus entirely on just the 5-15% who are ready to buy (this is wrong by the way, its 1-2% and I can prove it), you can get as much as a 3:1 return on your marketing dollar.

        Spend that same amount on the other two groups posting content for organic reach purposes (and you will because you can’t really identify them) you will get a negative ROI.

        Selling organic reach as some sort of panacea for your marketing dollars is ridiculous. It is best treated as a necessary evil to prove your company has a pulse, but don’t waste more than $50 bucks a month on feeding the content junkies.

        Focus on people who tell you what they need right now and your small business can be competitive. Don’t worry about them being offended by making them an offer.

        We all like it when someone makes the right suggestion at the right moment. Done correctly, people actually spread the word on your behalf.

        Don’t waste real money on this silly idea that brand building works for the majority of businesses. It doesn’t. Organic reach is a dead end.

        • “Designers are focused on branding. They think the site design creates transactions. They are wrong.”

          Site design is a contributing factor to the sales, I don’t even know how someone can argue against it. If it wasn’t you would get the same results for all the A/B tests.

          “As someone who actually sells marketing services, the clients we serve demand immediate results every single day.”

          This explains the difference in our thinking. I never said I sell marketing services to someone else and I was thinking about my own brand’s social media, not someone else’s. And I’ve already said it’s a long-term effort and you shouldn’t expect results immediately.

          “Don’t waste real money on this silly idea that brand building works for the majority of businesses.”

          I think you’re focused too much on small businesses overall. If a small business wants to stay small reaching out to those people who are ready to buy may be enough, but building a brand is actually what makes the difference between staying small and growing.

          If a “marketing expert” told me that brand building is futile, I’d just run away from him and that’s what I’m going to do after submitting this comment 😉 Good luck with your marketing business.

  9. Thank you for this article. I will use these tips to drive more traffic to my site.

  10. And his me thinking that social media was that to be social. Makes me think some should start a Facebook again, but with a promise of NO advitising or paid stuff.

  11. Great overview – love the graph of Facebook share price vs organic reach. We’re now using BUFFER at our web design agency – it’s got great insight reporting and at $10 a month to reach the “big 5” (excludes Instagram), it’s effective and time efficient so you can do what you say is key – devising amazing content.

  12. Rather than Twitter I prefer to use Facebook as well as G+. As genuinely say, Twitter is a place of bots.

    • Sorry friend, what you mean “boots”?

  13. Thanks Dan! Its a well written article for reference.

  14. Excellent information, thank you. The cool thing about Google+ is often when I post a link to my newest site on Google+, my post shows up in the Google search results before my website is even fully indexed

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