Facebook Reach: Totally Worth It or Totally Worthless?

There is not a ton of information out there by various Facebook marketing experts when it concerns Facebook Reach and Facebook Insights.  The handful that have reviewed the workings of Facebook Reach certainly either have words of praise or words of condemnation.

Back in December and then again during February, there was a rather heated controversy around Facebook Reach, and how pages and posts were steadily and undeniably declining in organic exposure.  Many people were outraged, accusing Facebook of being greedy, money-hungry and underhanded, and some even left it for other social media platforms, declaring that it wasn’t worth the money anymore.

However, do not all social media platforms – and even Google – change their algorithms as a way to further monetize their businesses?  When the Hummingbird update was announced to include conversational searches, this certainly had to affect some business websites who relied on the old way of searching.  Even if their rankings did not change, many still panic and immediately pay for ads to stay in front of their target audience.  Others may try less expensive and less effective means, such as changing their IP address and switching content to a different domain, but the quickest fix is to pay for exposure.

But if a particular social media platform is where a lot of your target audience gathers, why abandon it?  Is it so bad to pay for valuable exposure and engagement?  As long as you are paying for the right kinds of content – i.e, not a re-post of that video with the ugly dog dancing “The Shuffle”– Facebook Reach can be a great tool.

Reach Results: Accurate, Worthless or Just Irrelevant?

There have been several back-and-forth blog posts from influential Facebook marketing experts about the quality, accuracy and dependability of Facebook Reach results.  A few bloggers and social media marketing experts claim that Facebook Reach results do not measure how many people saw your content, nor how many people were engaged by your content, but only the possible number of people it may have reached when posted, and the short period of time following.  Because of this assumption, one would be quick to write Facebook Reach results off as not being very useful, especially for paid posts and pages, when the marketing figures often must be accounted for to higher ups.

To put it in other terms, it is much like a radio station claiming your ad will reach 200,000 listeners, or a TV commercial reaching 2 million.  There is no real way to prove those claims, nor measure how many of those possible listeners or viewers were actually reached.

A contradicting guest blog declared Facebook Reach results as more accurately measured than on any other source of marketing or platform.  Unlike TV and radio or other measurements of “reach,” Facebook can very accurately measure if, and to how many, a piece of content has been displayed.  The difference may be in how those results are benchmarked and calculated.

How to Calculate Your Facebook Reach

It would make sense to most people to calculate your reach by taking the total number of people it was displayed to, according to Facebook Reach, and dividing it by the total number of fans, in order to calculate a percentage of fans a piece of content reached.  However, Facebook Insights can break down details that allow marketing campaigns to calculate their reach much more accurately.  For instance, if your content was shown to 300 out of 5,000 fans, most would calculate the reach as being 6%.  However, that is probably not the best way to calculate your actual reach.

Facebook Insights allows you to look at when most of your fans are online.  If you post the marketing content you wish to be seen during that time, and then divide the total number of people who saw the content by the total number of fans who were online at that time, you’ll get a much more accurate idea of how well-received your content is.  So for instance, if you discover 2400 of your 5000 fans are online at 6 p.m, and you post at that time, instead of your reach being 6%, it would be 300 out of 2400, or 12.5%.  Plus, as was mentioned before, the numbers will look a lot better to your boss.


This difference in calculating the reach of a piece of content could be one of the reasons those using Facebook Insights and Facebook Reach disagree about its usefulness.

While other social media platforms can be tools for marketing, no other social media provides the kind of metrics and analytics that Facebook does.  Those that do provide some basic analytics do not compare with the accuracy and comprehensiveness that Facebook Reach and Facebook Insights does.


There are many other components to these Facebook marketing tools.  As long as marketers use them thoroughly, and understand how to effectively measure the reach and effectiveness of their content, they can be indispensable social media marketing tools.

Image: Stuart Pilbrow


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