Facebook Live: The Holy Grail For Organic Reach
Creative Testing
A/B Testing

Facebook Live: The Holy Grail For Organic Reach

James MillerJames Miller

July 15, 2021

In terms of social media marketing, organic reach is at the top of the food chain. It’s free promotion. So, the potential ROI is massive.

But, you have to use the right tools to get really good organic reach on Facebook. Facebook has very selectively chosen what gets organic reach on the platform and what doesn’t, based on their goals.

Facebook Live is one of the vehicles that gets stronger than average organic reach on Facebook. Regular Facebook videos get fair organic reach. But, Facebook Live is much better.

Here’s a snapshot from Socialbakers in 2018:

organic reach on facebook live vs standard posts

Exactly how much more organic reach do live broadcasts get today? We wanted to know too, to apply our Facebook video marketing resources more efficiently. So, we ran an experiment to gather some hard data.

We had our theories going into the experiment. But, the results blew our minds.

Here’s how everything turned out.


Let’s Test How Much Organic Reach You Get With Facebook Live vs Standard Video Posts

Our hypothesis:

We know from experience that standard video posts get less organic reach than Facebook Live broadcasts. So, we figured that Facebook Live would outperform our video posts by a decent margin. Our bold predictions were that Facebook Live would perform twice as well in organic reach.

The experiment:

We set up five Facebook Live broadcasts and created five standard video posts. To measure the organic reach, we tracked:

Our Facebook Live broadcasts were all long-form, educational broadcasts like this one.

Alternatively, we also created short, fun videos for our video posts.

It was important to match the content to the vehicle. That way, each one was able to give its best performance.

Then we kicked off our experiment and posted our videos, recorded the broadcasts, and tallied the numbers. Here are the results and what we learned.

Facebook Live Organically Reached 92% More People

Reach is obviously a key indicator of organic performance. And, our Facebook Live broadcasts reached a lot of people.

The broadcasts had an average reach of 2,586, for a total reach of 12,929.

On the other hand, our video posts reached an average of 1,346 people, and reached a total of 6,729 people.

‘Reach’ is actually the only metric where Facebook Live didn’t completely smash our wildest predictions. The Live reach is almost doubled (92%) that of our video posts – which is still astounding.

Facebook Live Saw 280% More 3-second Views

Our Facebook Live broadcasts absolutely dominated our standard video posts in the 3-second views category.

The live broadcasts averaged 1,079 3-second views apiece and totaled 5,395 3-second views.

In contrast, the video posts averaged only 283 3-second views, for a total 1,414 3-second views.

That’s a 280% boost in 3-second views. The Facebook Live performance blasted right past our boldest predictions.

However, 3-second views aren’t the ultimate measure of organic performance. It could just indicate that people watch Facebook Live broadcasts for longer because live broadcasts are longer than regular Facebook video posts.

But, 3-second views often signal the start of a longer viewing session. That’s why Facebook counts them as a valuable marketing metric.

Additionally, 3-second views are great for building ‘awareness’ audiences for your paid advertising campaigns!

Facebook Live Gets 15x More Engagement

The last thing we checked was engagement. Engagement might be the most important metric because it’s what ultimately determines how much organic reach the Facebook algorithm will grant to your videos.

When your video gets a lot of engagement, Facebook suggests it to more people. If they watch your video and engage, Facebook will suggest your video to still more people. So, engagement is what drives your organic performance.

In this category, Facebook Live smashed our standard video post engagement. Our live broadcasts got an average of 94 engagements and racked up a total of 469 engagements.

In contrast, our video posts averaged only 6 engagements each and totaled 28 engagements. Cue sad trombone.

So, our live broadcasts got about 15X more engagement than our video posts! Facebook Live absolutely demolished even our most ambitious predictions.

So, what do all these numbers mean? What do we do with this knowledge?

Here’s How to Leverage Facebook Live for Maximum Impact

Facebook Live for Business

Facebook Live isn’t a one-size-fits-all tool. But, it’s a great way to supplement your paid advertising, and can even act as a stand-in for paid ads if you can’t afford them. However, relying on Facebook Live shouldn’t be your permanent strategy.

In fact, you shouldn’t give up on video posts just because Facebook Live beats them out in the organic reach arena. Video posts are still an excellent value if you run them as paid ads (see How Ladder Launched a Facebook Video Ad With an 11% CTR). Videos get better reach than any other type of paid Facebook marketing.

*Bonus resource: The Social Video Formula That Boosts Engagement: How To Create Videos For Social Media

Here’s how to take advantage of organic reach with Facebook Live, no matter how you decide to use it.

Use Facebook Live as an audience builder

One of the most daunting tasks of running ads on Facebook is building audiences. There are a lot of ways to do it.

However, showing ads to people who have already demonstrated positive behavior toward your brand is a great way to boost your ad performance.

3-second views are great for building audiences in the Facebook Ads Manager. Facebook tracks 3-second views and lets you create audiences based on this metric. It’s a really effective way to identify the prospects who will be most receptive to your awareness, consideration, and even your conversion campaigns, depending on your marketing funnel.

So, if you’ve struggled to nail down the right audience for your paid ads, you can run some Facebook Live broadcasts to build a receptive audience. And, you can find new prospects by creating lookalike audiences from your 3-second views audience.

Running regular Facebook Live broadcasts can help you expand the reach and boost the performance of your paid advertising campaigns.

Use Facebook Live to establish social proof

Social proof heavily influences people’s decisions. Likes, comments, and shares function as social proof on social media.

They’re like little testimonials on your posts. People are more likely to watch a video with a lot of likes, comments, and shares because they can see that other people like it.

You can save your live broadcasts and post them as videos. When you do this, the engagements from the live broadcast will show up on the post. These engagements encourage new people to watch the video. So, you can continue growing your audience, even after your live broadcast has ended.

Also, you get the best results from boosting posts on Facebook if you boost posts that already have good engagement.

Facebook boost targets people who are more likely to engage. So, boosting posts that already have engagement gets you more promotion per dollar.

Two Best Practices to Increase Organic Reach on Facebook Live

facebook live streaming stock photo

Facebook Live is designed to feel informal and organic. That makes the list of best practices a bit short. You want your broadcasts to feel a bit off the cuff.

Regardless, here’s how to make sure that you’re getting the most bang for your broadcasts:

Schedule your broadcasts

Even though your live broadcasts should feel personal and unscripted, you don’t want them to be unplanned. Otherwise, people won’t know when to show up and watch.

This means it’s best if you broadcast regularly, at a consistent time. And, schedule your broadcasts on Facebook so people can see what’s coming up.

If your broadcasts are scheduled, it’s also easier to promote them through other channels like email. That way you get the biggest audience every time you go live.

Create long-form live videos

It takes people time to start watching and interacting with your live broadcast. You need to account for this and give your audience plenty of time to gather.

Shoot for a minimum of ten minutes. And, running for thirty minutes or more is great. Just remember to plan enough content to keep your video engaging. The script should be minimal. But, prepare some notes, so you can keep things rolling if the audience isn’t asking a lot of questions or if it takes longer than you expect to build a decent audience.

Now you understand just how effective Facebook Live can be for building organic reach. If you’re looking for a way to start your Facebook marketing or support your paid ads, Facebook Live is a powerful way to reach more people.

Also, Facebook Live might have the lowest barrier to entry and the highest potential for success of any Facebook marketing tool. You can broadcast from your phone and build a following very quickly.

There’s no reason not to give it a try.

If you want to see the nitty-gritty of the organic vs Live performance comparison, you can explore the full experiment data here.

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