The Death of Organic Reach on Facebook
Well it had to happen sometime. For a year or more, Facebook has been toying and tweaking their News Feed algorithm, which used to be called Edge Rank, to control what users see in their News Feed on Facebook. For months, if not years, brands and the social media consultants who manage their respective Pages have been concerned with the declining organic reach. Well as of June 5, 2014, Facebook had their Ads Product lead, Brian Boland, wrote a lengthy post explaining why organic reach is declining and what we should be doing to effectively use Facebook for business.
What Is Organic Reach Exactly?
Facebook defines organic reach as “how many people you can reach for free on Facebook by posting to your Page.” The article from Brian Boland acknowledges that this declining organic reach on Facebook is a major pain point for many businesses and social media community managers. He assures us that Facebook is committed to helping us “understand what’s driving this change so your business can succeed on Facebook.”
When Did Organic Reach Start Declining?
Before we get into Facebook’s long over due explanation of declining organic reach, let’s take a quick look at how this all started. You may be surprised how long this has been going on. Back in April of 2012, Facebook said that Pages can organically reach about 16% of their fans on average.
Hey, see that link in the image? The one after the sentence that reads “To make sure your fans see your stories, sponsor your posts to increase the reach of your content?” Well guess where that link leads? You guessed it! Find out here.
To update things, as recently as this past February 2014, Ogilvy & Mather conducted a study and they report in this slideshare deck, that only 6% of your fans will see your post. I’m willing to bet it’s as low as 1-2% today. Is Facebook Zero a reality? Read what I had to say about Facebook’s organic reach plummeting to zero.
Is Declining Organic Reach Related To Facebook Ad Revenue?
The latest talk around the social media advertising water cooler is that Facebook’s diminishing organic reach was a play by the world’s largest social network to pull more advertise dollars from brands and small to medium sized businesses that promote on Facebook. Of course Facebook says this is absolutely not true and that slashing organic reach has nothing to do with money. (After thought: Even though Facebook is a publicly owned company…).
Instead Facebook says they need to control the content any user sees in their News Feed because: “On average, there are 1,500 stories that could appear in a person’s News Feed each time they log onto Facebook. As a result, competition in News Feed — the place on Facebook where people view content from their family and friends, as well as businesses — is increasing, and it’s becoming harder for any story to gain exposure in News Feed.”
Boland goes on to say that in order to give users the best experience on the platform, Facebook needs to look at thousands of ranking factors that are relative to each user. He confirms that 300 or so of the most relevant stories get fed into a users News Feed.
Regardless of what Facebook says about declining organic reach not being tied to ad revenue, they will still end up benefiting in just that way. Brands and SMBs are essentially forced to pay-to-play on Facebook and invest in a researched and well targeted Facebook advertising strategy.
Facebook knows this well. They understand that a brand still values their fans and that a brands fans can still drive engagement and revenue. Boland wrote: “when an ad has social context — in other words, when a person sees their friend likes your business — your ads drive, on average, 50% more recall and 35% higher online sales lift…”
Now How Do I Use Facebook For My Business?
This is ultimately the question most businesses are asking themselves or their social media marketing agency. For our clients, I know we are doing our best to create compelling relevant content that gets shared. But what’s the point of publishing super sharable content when no one is seeing it on Facebook? Thankfully, we offer our clients a comprehensive social media marketing strategy that doesn’t put all their eggs in one big blue Facebook basket. We build communities with other valuable social networks like Pinterest, Instagram and Google+.
If we want to engage our client’s Facebook community, Facebook’s advertising options are your best bet. It’s pretty much the only way for your fans to engage and share your content. This comes straight form the horses mouth – not to call Boland a horse:
“Like TV, search, newspapers, radio and virtually every other marketing platform, Facebook is far more effective when businesses use paid media to help meet their goals. Your business won’t always appear on the first page of a search result unless you’re paying to be part of that space. Similarly, paid media on Facebook allows businesses to reach broader audiences more predictably, and with much greater accuracy than organic content.”
I disagree with one part of that. A solid and on-going SEO strategy will do wonders with keeping your business on the first page of a search result. You can get there and stay there with out a paid Google AdWords PPC campaign.
We’ve rolled out several Facebook advertising campaigns for some of our clients and it’s helped us reach their goals. The targeting options and the custom audience features of Facebook ads make it an incredibly useful advertising medium.
How else can you target users who visited your website, abandoned a cart, or were shopping for a product or service you offer? And how can you do this for a reasonable budget? Your answer is social media advertising and Facebook in particular.
Read the full blog post from Facebook here.
If you’re looking to expand your Facebook organic reach and let Facebook start working for you, VPDM offers Facebook advertising consulting as well as Facebook Ad strategy execution and management.
Please reach out and let’s start a conversation.