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How Facebook’s Latest Organic Reach Adjustment Affects Data in quintly

by Karsten Lettow on February 21, 2018

Since Monday, February 12th, Facebook adjusted the way how the reach on organic posts is calculated. This raises the question for you, as a social media professional, how the change affects your social media performance and analytics numbers, especially the reach metric. In this article, we provide answers to questions that our customers and we at quintly raised during the last week.

What Did Facebook Change?

In the past, there was a mismatch in how Facebook calculated reach on organic posts compared to paid posts. For paid posts, reach is calculated based on the posts entering a person’s screen, while for organic posts the reach calculation was based already when the post was delivered to the news feed (but was not yet visible to the user). With the new update, Facebook is now calculating reach for organic posts the same way as for paid posts, meaning counting the reach when the organic post is visible to the user on their devices.

Facebook’s recently implemented adjustment results in more accurate numbers for how many people are reached by the organic post, called reach or unique impressions. Also, the definition of reach for organic and paid posts is now consistent. This information is based on various help and blog articles published by Facebook.

How Does This Affect the Numbers, Especially Reach?

Since the definition of reach on organic posts has become stricter now, the number will be lower compared to the abandoned measurement methodology in most cases. To get a better feeling for how much these numbers differ, Facebook is offering organic post reach numbers based on the abandoned approach via the export function in the page manager, documented on their help page. We analyzed these numbers for various pages and based on that could take the following conclusion:

  1. Organic post reach numbers before the 12th of February are not affected, so the numbers from the past have not been changed.
  2. The new measurement results in less or equal numbers compared to the old measurement.

Unfortunately, Facebook doesn’t provide any reportings for reach values hierarchically above the organic post reach level based on the abandoned definition. Based on the conclusions and statements from Facebook we expect the overall reach to follow the same new methodology.

How Does quintly Reflect These Changes?

At quintly, we import the Insights data from Facebook via the Graph API. The organic post reach and other reach numbers based on that metric are underlying the same changes as the reportings on your Facebook Page Manager Insights Dashboard. Until the 12th of February, the numbers were based on the old measurement methodology, meaning they were based on how many people got provided with the organic post, both seen and unseen. Today, the numbers are based on how many people saw the organic post on their screen. Facebook also offers the metric mentioned before for organic post reach numbers based on the abandoned approach via the Graph Api and we are already working on integrating this into quintly very soon. Also here, Facebook doesn’t provide numbers for other reach metrics, besides organic post reach, affected by the change.

So What’s the Summary?

Overall, we conclude that the changes of Facebook have more positive aspects. The good news is that Facebook increased their data quality by using a more accurate method to calculate reach on organic posts and also correcting the flawed consistency between paid and organic post reach. If data quality is flawed, the numbers don’t reflect the real world anymore and decisions based on these numbers might be wrong.

The bad news is that using reach as a KPI and comparing its values from before and after February 12th comes with a grain of salt. We would be happier if Facebook provides more reach values, organic post reach, total post reach and page reach based on the abandoned measurement methodology for transparency and comparison reasons. However, over time, the aforementioned issues will slowly fade away.

If you have any questions, plesase feel free to reach out to us via support@quintly.com.

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Karsten Lettow

Karsten is Product Manager for Data Integration at quintly. Having started as a software developer, he's been working for quintly since day one – this is why Karsten knows every nook and cranny of our social media analytics solution extremely well. His focus lies on increasing the value that quintly can provide for all social media professionals.

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