Organic reach: rumours of my death have been greatly exaggerated

A recent article on eConsultancy posited the argument that in 2016 brands are over-reliant on organic reach on Facebook, with only 3% of brands engaging in paid promotion of 80% or more of their Facebook posts. The article goes on to explain why this is problematic, quoting BBDO’s head of communications planning, Julian Cole, who says “organic reach on Facebook is dead.”

Whilst this perspective may be true for a large proportion of the web, Factory Media remain firm supporters of the value of organic reach. There are still a huge number of engaged online communities, both on site and on social media and amongst them Factory Media’s 23 media properties, that continue to provide brands with enormous organic reach, free from the dark arts of paid-for social posts.

A live example of this, is the second incarnation of Sidewalk’s Store Wars, in association with Mountain Dew. Now in its second year and following on from the amazing success of 2015 – Store Wars is back, and brings together 35 skate stores from across the UK, representing the true grass roots of the skateboard scene on an even greater scale than last time.


Bricks and mortar skate stores are the lifeblood of the UK Skateboarding scene.

They’re the foundations of what skateboarding is, a place to hang, learn about skateboarding history and culture as well as somewhere to get bad advice on relationships, education, music, films, art, travel and just about everything else from.

Nic Powley, the owner of last year’s winning store Skate Pharmacy.

With Round 1 content from all 35 stores dropping over 7 weeks, this year’s Store Wars promised to be even bigger and better. And four weeks in, that much is true, with the campaign so far achieving a massive ORGANIC reach of 12.7m, with 3.7m video views and a view-through rate of 18% (660k people have so far viewed the videos to 95%).

Store Wars can be thought of as a genuinely organic campaign, in that real people, with a real interest, are involved from the inception of the content, right the way through to distribution. Nic Powley explains how significant grassroots, local interest was in Skate Pharmacy’s success last year:

All the local businesses shared it: people were genuinely stoked to see ‘young people’ doing something so positive and active and to be seen to be promoting the area at the same time. Even when we were out filming because we had a big crew we attracted a lot of attention but people were so into what we were doing.

On top of these fantastic reach numbers, last year’s spectacular engagement has carried over to this year’s campaign too, with 191k engagements (likes, comments, shares) so far. Stay tuned for the final numbers in a few weeks’ time.

In conclusion, brands need to know that organic reach on Facebook isn’t dead. Not by a long shot.

Research your audience, understand what works for them, know what makes them tick, then you can produce content that’s genuinely engaging and stirs an emotion. We all know that makes for a more successful campaign. Then, crucially, distribute it to communities that you know are going to be genuinely interested in that content; that’s what Store Wars has done to great effect. Finally, sit back and watch your content fly, while spending your social media pennies elsewhere.


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