Declining Organic Reach on Facebook? Try Email Instead

declining facebook organic reach

This week, brands and publishers everywhere received an early Halloween fright when they thought of the declining organic reach that might come from Facebook’s new, publisher-free newsfeed.

Fortunately for social media marketers all over the world (and their collective sanity), Facebook quickly clarified that it’s just a temporary test in a few smaller countries. But once those marketers regained consciousness, they were hit again, this time with a dose of reality.

What would happen if Facebook rolled this out globally? Would this make our organic reach even lower? Is it possible to have negative organic reach?

Facebook tweaks are nothing new, but for marketers in six countries, October 2017 marks the (temporary) literal death of organic reach in the news feed. It’s yet another grim reminder of the perils of platforms. When you’re dependent on social media traffic for clicks and revenue, your marketing efforts rest at the whims of the platform. A single update or algorithm tweak could destabilize your entire program.

That’s why brands are building up their email lists. Email is the best way to reach your audiences, build lasting relationships with them, and protect your business model from the double-edged duopoly sword.

Email connects you with your audience, no matter how low your declining organic reach falls.

With organic reach at nearly zero and Facebook clutter at nearly a bazillion, expecting audiences to see your posts is like expecting them to find the hay in a needle stack. They’re not going to find it. They’re not even going to try. Why would you ask them to do that, you monster?

When you get your reader’s email address, you get a direct link to that reader. In fact, it’s essentially an invitation to the inbox. In many cases, the reader is saying, “Hey, please send me your newsletter.” Once you establish that connection, you have a guaranteed (assuming you have no deliverability issues!) way to reach your audience with 1:1 messaging at any time.

This could probably be why email is 40 times more effective at converting leads than social media. That, or people just prefer brand communication via email. Either way, you’ve got a direct connection with people who care what you have to say.

Email delivers your content to an engaged audience.

Of course, it’s not enough to simply open that connection. Collecting the email address is a value exchange. Your reader graciously handed over an email address; now you have to hold up your end of the bargain by providing quality content.

Lucky for you, you have an easy way to make sure audiences see that content, remember?

(It’s email, just in case you’re still recovering from that Facebook shock.)

Publishers typically count their email subscribers as their most engaged audiences. Like the physical delivery of print publications, email allows you to put content directly on the reader’s digital doorstep. This regular delivery can replicate the habit-forming nature of print, ensuring readers routinely engage with your content.

Email puts your audience back in your hands.

Before algorithms began eating into organic reach, Facebook pages built up their platform audiences, knowing they could rely on them to drive near-infinite clicks. It was a boon for ad-driven publishers…until it wasn’t. That’s when companies decided, “Well, at least social media is good for brand awareness.”

Unfortunately, that might not be the case for all companies, especially for publishers. Less than half of visitors to news from social media can recall what publisher created the content. Some visitors may not even realize they’ve left the social media platform at all. Facebook’s Instant Articles, among other efforts to keep users inside the platform, will only blur this relationship even more.

When you build your audience on social, you’re building a wall between you and those audiences. You’re building your audience on borrowed land. Whatever metaphor you prefer, if you get the email address, you get the ability to own your audience again.

Email builds lasting audience relationships.

Email is both a constant connection to your audience and a channel for delivering content. Those powers combine to create an optimal way for brands to nurture their audiences and drive revenue, no matter how those brands make their money.

For companies to drive conversions, paid subscriptions, membership, event attendance, or whatever supports their business model, audience relationships are key. Consumers won’t hand over money if they don’t trust you, and it’s pretty likely that those consumers won’t trust you after a single visit.

That’s where email shines. The direct link to the inbox allows you to regularly provide audiences with your content. By engaging your email subscribers, you can convince them of your value, convert them into paying customers, and keep them coming back.

When you’ve got a strong email list, Facebook isn’t so scary. Well, the algorithm part of it, anyway.

Getting a notification that your goofy relative commented on a photo? That’s still pretty terrifying.

Ready to grow your email list and combat declining organic reach? Learn how Apartment Therapy Media increased email signups by checking out our latest case study.

Editor, PostUp PlayBook