Is Organic Reach Dead?

Mar 03, 2021


It’s not just you. If you’ve watched your post reach on Facebook shrink or wondered why your posts on Instagram aren’t getting the engagement they used to, you’re not alone. It’s harder than ever to grow your social media audience without paid advertising. That’s by design.

Why Your Organic Reach And Engagement Numbers Are Down

We’re going to primarily refer to Instagram and Facebook here, but know this applies across the board to social platforms in existence for 2 or more years. Social media platforms are businesses. They exist to make money. We’re not trying to be patronizing, but a lot of people seem to forget that the first objective for Facebook is to make Facebook money, and it does that in two major ways: data collection and advertising sales.It only feels like our favorite platforms are “cheating” us out of the reach and engagement we’ve come to expect because we used to get a lot of it for free.

It only feels like our favorite platforms are “cheating” us out of the reach and engagement we’ve come to expect because we used to get a lot of it for free. The numbers are down because social platforms want you to spend money with them to push your content.


As you might expect, newer platforms with less established audiences (and fewer advertisers competing for space) are easier to grow on, with the important caveat that the content you produce is likely going to be very different from content you produce for the older platforms (meaning you will need to invest a lot of time and resources upfront for a platform that might not have staying power). Don’t expect to hop on TikTok and go viral.

How To Be Competitive On Social Media In The Age of Pay-To-Play

There is no one size fits all solution, and if it were up to us the term “growth-hacking” would be retired. Here are a few strategic options to increase your engagement and reach on social media.


If we had a dollar for every time we heard someone share the myth that boosting a post or using paid social ads will tank your organic reach, we’d have enough for our monthly budget right there. Social media advertising offers an unprecedented level of audience targeting at a fraction of the cost of traditional media. Plus, if you conduct any business online, your audience can be a single click away from purchasing your product or services. Compare that to running an ad in your local paper, where you’d pay a set fee (instead of setting your own budget) to run a single ad that reaches anyone who reads the paper (instead of a specific, like-minded audience).

It doesn’t have to be a big budget to be effective. We ran a single ad across Instagram and Facebook with a max spend of $100 for 7 days, and in addition to successfully promoting a client’s service (50+ signups), that client saw increased followers, significantly increased (+300%) reach AND increased engagement.


Want to see a little growth without spending money? Use new features. While they may be clunky or obviously trying to replicate the success of a different platform (looking at you, Reels), platforms will often prioritize posts using new features in the feed to try to encourage more users to engage with that feature. This doesn’t mean reorienting your entire social strategy around trends. Take some time to familiarize yourself with the new feature before jumping in; try Googling examples of brands using it well.


Consistency over virality, always. We highly recommend you make a content calendar and block out some time to plan your social media. Leave room to improvise and tone-check for current events. Remember that roughly 10% of your audience will see any given post, so don’t rely on a single post to do the heavy lifting for a new offering or upcoming event.


Put the social back in social media. Take time to respond to comments and messages, like and engage with other people’s content. When planning content, ask yourself the following: Does it entertain? Does it educate? Does it inspire? In short, how does it add value to your client? The key to success on social media, regardless of platform, is giving something back that makes it attention-worthy.

Need A Trustworthy Social Media Partner?

Stout Heart is here to help! We offer training programs for those who want to keep social in-house and ongoing support for brands that want to hand the reins to the professionals. We’ll keep you involved and ask for your collaboration but will steer the ship, reporting in regularly on progress made. Use the form below to get in touch, or send us an email at [email protected]!

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