The best things in life are free. That’s definitely the case when it comes to organic reach, the number of people who come across a post or other piece of content created by your brand without you having to pay to distribute the post to them.

One social media platform where you’ll see organic reach mentioned a lot is Facebook. Facebook divided organic reach into two categories: viral and non-viral.

Viral reach occurs when people start sharing a post so that more and more people see it. Non-viral reach occurs when a post you create shows up on a follower’s newsfeed, without someone else sharing it.

Organic reach is often contrasted with paid reach, which occurs when someone sees your content because you paid to have it show up on their newsfeed or paid to have it appear at the top of the page of search engine results.

From the point of view of your budget, organic reach is the type of reach to aim for. Unfortunately, in recent years, organic reach has dropped, leading more and more marketers to pay to promote their posts and content.

The good news is that there are ways to boost organic reach and get your message out in front of your target audience without cracking open your wallet. These tips for increasing organic reach can help you work against the current trend and expand your audience.

What’s the Deal With Organic Reach?

If you take a look at the stats for organic reach, the situation can seem pretty dire. Back in 2013, if a brand created a post on Facebook, it could reasonably expect that post to reach around 12 percent of its followers organically.

Little more than a year later, the average post would reach around 6 percent of followers. By 2018, most posts had organic reach of around 5 percent or less.

There are a few reasons for the change. One is the that the number of posts on Facebook and on other social media platforms has increased steadily over the years. These days, it’s really easy to get lost in the shuffle, especially if you’re competing with thousands of other brands.

The volume of posts is just the beginning. The ever-changing algorithms are also somewhat to blame for the decline in organic reach. In 2016, Instagram announced that it was switching up the order in which posts appeared, changing the feed from a chronological one to one based on an algorithm. The result was panic.

On Facebook, algorithmic considerations such as how people have responded to your posts, whether particular people have interacted with your posts in the past, the time of day, and whether or not a person is on a mobile or desktop device, can all influence whether or not a post reaches a follower organically.

At the start of 2018, Facebook announced that it is was adjusting its algorithm once again, this time in an attempt to showcase posts from “friends and family” over posts from brands and influencers.

One last reason for the drop in organic reach is money. Although social media platforms like to promote a warm-and-fuzzy, “we’re all friends here” ethos, at the end of the day, they’re for-profit businesses. They want to make money, just as your brand most likely wants to make money. One way they can do that is by encouraging companies to pay for post promotion, rather than letting those companies get it for free.

5 Tips for Increasing Organic Reach

Although organic reach might be dropping, and it might seem as if Facebook, are doing all they can to kill it off entirely, it’s not dead and gone yet. Here’s what you can do to increase organic reach on social media.

1. Improve the Quality of Your Content

In the early days of social media marketing, “anything goes” seemed to be the rule of the land. Brands figured it was better to post anything rather than nothing.

These days, the opposite is true. If you don’t have anything useful, worthwhile or interesting to say, then you’re better of keeping mum. That way, when you do post something amazing, people are going be more likely to tune into it. And when people tune into a post or other piece of content and like what they see, they are more likely to share it with others, who in turn might be more likely to share it with their friends. Voila, nearly instant, viral organic reach.

2. Get the Timing Right

Timing still matters when it comes to organic reach. If you regularly post at 3:30 a.m. on Sunday mornings, then you’re going to get crickets in response.

The right time to post on social media to increase organic reach varies by platform. For best results on Facebook, post in the middle of the day. Mid-week posts in the early afternoon tend to perform best.

Meanwhile, the best time to post on Instagram for organic reach is on Thursdays (#tbt, anyone?). If you use Twitter, Friday mornings tend to be the best time for posting.

Your results might vary based on the industry you’re in and your time zone. It can be worthwhile to experiment with posting at different times of day and during different days of the week to see what type of results you get.

3. Focus on UGC

Another way to boost organic reach is to post content created by fans and followers of your brand. Buffer managed to increase its organic reach and its follower numbers by 400 percent thanks to user-generated content (UGC). It also notes that other brands, such as Birchbox and REI, have done the same and had similar results.

UGC helps boost organic reach for a few reasons. It builds connections with your followers and encourages them to create content that you could potentially share. Once you do repost a user’s content, it’s likely they’ll share it with their own following to show off.

4. Focus on Your Own Stuff

Another way to increase organic reach is to say “social media, what social media?” We’re not suggesting that you delete your social accounts. Instead, focus on building up your brand’s own assets, such as your blog, video content and website.

Content you create for your own sites can generate inbound traffic through SEO, which is another type of organic reach. Your blog posts and videos that you own are also going to have a shelf life that’s a lot longer than any social media post.

5. Build Community

Establishing groups, such as Facebook groups, on social media is another way to give your organic reach a boost. You can set groups to be public, private or secret, meaning that people have to be invited to join and can’t search and find the group.

Groups tend to be more niche and specific than general brand pages. People usually join a Facebook group because they want to interact with others who have similar interests. Posts in a group work differently from posts on a newsfeed; it’s easier for members to see when new posts are up.

Creating a group on Facebook also helps to build goodwill with your audience. They’ll feel like they are part of something and are going to more likely to check out posts and updates in the group than they would on your brand’s page.