Reach on Facebook – Universal Music Sweden

Universal Music Sweden's Facebook Page

Today I’m going to show you Universal Music Sweden, who are one of a few companies we’ve seen that have increased their organic reach on Facebook while maintaining a consistent paid presence. This two pronged approach has always been a challenge for brands on social media and specifically on Facebook: how do you grow an organic presence while still using promoted posts?

I am assuming you all know the difference between a promoted and an organic post, but so we’re on the same page, here’s a quick rundown of the differences on Facebook:


Promoted, suggested, sponsored, boosted or paid. This is any post that is shown to people in their newsfeeds by Facebook when a brand has paid. You’ll have seen the small “Sponsored” tag on such posts that denotes the difference. This is paid reach – the more you pay the more people will see your post. We call getting reach in this way the ‘brute force technique’. That’s not to decry it of course – there are plenty of intelligent examples of well targeted paid posts.

Please understand: This sponsored post was not served to me. Even I'm not that nerdy.

Posts that you see like this are examples of paid reach.

And one from Honda:


It’s like they knew I liked and was searching for Hondas. Oh maybe they actually did know…


Organic, viral or non-paid post reach occurs in several circumstances. Often it’s when someone ‘likes’ your Facebook page and so happen to see your posts. Reach of this sort happens every day on Facebook thanks to their newsfeed algorithm which decides what you’ll ultimately see. Common actions that trigger a post being shown to you include: when one of your friends shares a post from that brand and you happen to see it on your timeline, or you might also see a post organically in your newsfeed if another brand has tagged a brand you follow (especially if you follow them both as in the example below). If you’ve been tagged in a post, if a friend of yours has liked a particularly engaging post or if someone you know has commented upon a brand post, all of them will have a chance of appearing in your newsfeed.

We know that posts that you see in your Facebook news feed organically are more effective at attracting attention and command higher levels of trust. Many brands also know this but crucially, building up a purely organic and active following on Facebook is no easy task. Ensuring a message is seen by lots of people yet at the same time trying to maintain an organic presence on Facebook is a difficult combination to juggle, but I’m going to show how Universal Sweden are a good example of a company doing this the right way.

Universal Music Sweden are capitalising on important organic reach on Facebook

Universal Music Sweden are capitalising on important organic reach on Facebook

Universal Music sit somewhere in between a brand and a media company. The first barrier that brands encounter on social media is creating content. Record labels have content. Lots of it. They know their customers are on social media and they use Facebook to announce album or single releases to their key demographics. The question in this case is how to marry this often necessary type of traditional/paid for presence with a healthy growing organic one. It’s not easy and here’s why:

Everyone can access this graph for their own page through Facebook analytics

When you rely on paid reach only, you take potential organic reach away from yourself.

When you rely on paid reach and you stop paying, the reach vanishes. That’s exactly the opposite of what you want to promote with an organic presence. When you aim to steadily build an engaging presence on Facebook, organic reach is your reward. Often, the goals of paid posts and organic posts are at odds. With paid, the content of the post is of secondary importance, whereas with organic it’s absolutely crucial – if the content isn’t good, it won’t generate engagement and it won’t get viral reach, or any reach – and this will drag down your page’s importance with Facebook’s newsfeed algorithm.

Organic Reach vs Paid Reach – the cheat sheet

Organic Reach Promoted Reach
More credible (trusted) Less effective
Viral Reach Per post cost
Content Marketing Traditional Marketing
Goal: Engagement Goal: Exposure

Looking at Universal Music Sweden’s own page, we’ve seen over the last 5 months that they’ve adapted their strategy so that there isn’t a big divide between what they post organically and what they promote.

Possible Paid Reach: Tokio Hotel on the famous Swedish service Spotify.

When a brand you like shares a link on their timeline, you’ll have a higher chance of seeing it if it generates likes, comments and shares.

This is a typical announcement style post, which is the type that might be promoted and targeted (which can be done for organic posts) to reach the target fans. Sure it has the Spotify link (which is nice and helpful and means you can listen immediately), but it’s official and has the look of traditional marketing. This is not usually the type of content that works well organically on Facebook. Universal Music do understand this and understand their organic community. What do fans want to see in a post from a record label?

Reach Protip: Videos between 15-30 seconds are what we recommend for native Facebook video.

Bonus points here for the neatly customised shortlinks.

That’s right – video! And more importantly, video content that plays in-stream and starts automatically. By default, Facebook video begins to play automatically and the vast majority of people never change that option. Another advantage of native video is that currently at least, video content uploaded directly to Facebook gets favoured in terms of organic reach. It simply gets shown to more people than the same content hosted on YouTube. Universal are at an advantage here with all their available video content.

Making this small change may seem like a no-brainer – if it gets your content more reach and seen by more people then it’s a win, right? But this is actually quite a bold move for a company that relies on directly monetising media. Ask any company that maintains a YouTube presence and they’ll tell you “We want people to watch on our YouTube channel.”

Doesn’t this sound familiar to messages that record labels gave in the past: “We want people to watch on MTV and not YouTube?”

Reach for the stars

The good news for companies in this position is that however trepidatious they are, there is ample data to back up decisions these days. Of course Universal want their viewers to be watching on YouTube or Vevo – that is what everyone wants – but to get that, as ever, engagement is the key. By giving fans a teaser that starts automatically, they generate more initial interest, which means more organic reach, more clicks and more views on YouTube/Vevo from Facebook than if they only allowed users to see content after they’ve clicked away from Facebook. Remember – Facebook and YouTube are competitors!

Ok it's not a hockey stick, but then I hear that Sweden aren't really that hot on hockey. ;)

Hard numbers are hidden but the percentage increase is significant.

By creating and posting more native video content: shorter teasers of new music along with original ‘only for Facebook’ content, Universal have been able to grow their organic reach steadily alongside their regular paid posts since the traditionally quiet holiday period. While Universal Music Sweden doesn’t have the strongest Facebook presence in terms of sheer numbers, getting details like this right show they are paying attention. It’s a small change but a crucially important one that shows they understand how Facebook works better than some of their competitors.

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