The organic reach of brand content in Facebook posts is rapidly dwindling, to the point you can expect it to peter out to nothing in the coming months.
Facebook began restricting the organic reach of Page content in 2012 and has since seemingly given up on telling marketers they aren’t going to have to pay to play. In fact, Ogilvy cites anonymous “Facebook sources” as telling community managers they can expect Facebook organic reach to plunge to absolutely nothing in the foreseeable future.
In their analysis of more than 100 brand pages in February 2014, Social@Ogilvy found that Facebook’s organic reach is just 6%, with large pages over 500,000 followers seeing just 2% reach. (Meaning, the bigger your brand, the more you’re being pressured toward paid content.) These numbers are rapidly in decline, having dropped almost 50% since October.
It’s pretty abysmal, right? But what can a marketer do about it?
It’s time to come to terms with the fact this is the new reality for Facebook marketers. In December 2013, AdAge obtained a deck Facebook had sent to partners, in which they found the following statement from Facebook:
“We expect organic distribution of an individual page’s posts to gradually decline over time as we continually work to make sure people have a meaningful experience on the site.”
It was a complete about-face by the network, who just a year earlier denied the reach of organic Facebook Page content was declining, in light of research at that time by Group M Next.
A November 2012 statement from Facebook read:
“Based on a recent quality check, we made an adjustment to the news feed algorithm to respond to the negative feedback signals of spam and people hiding posts. Current signals show the adjustment has been successful. Median reach of Facebook pages has remained the same, while spam complaints and stories hidden by users have fallen significantly.”
Late in 2012, Group M Next had looked into pages operated by 25 brands and found the share of Facebook users seeing organic posts from a brand they “Liked” was down 38% in the five weeks after Sept. 20, from 15.56% (consistent with the average 16% Facebook reported at the time) to 9.62%.
If you haven’t already, it’s time to get comfortable with Facebook Ads. Whereas Facebook once assured marketers and brands their Page building efforts wouldn’t be for naught, it’s clear now that you’re going to have to pay to get fans, then pay to reach them again.
Facebook has worked long and hard at ensuring that fans acquired through their network are kept within the Facebook platform while engaging with brands. Smart marketers are going to have to get creative enticing fans off the platform and onto other brand properties and channels, where getting a message across doesn’t cost another paid click and ongoing engagement is earned, not bought. This makes a unified, integrated effort across social, website, email and other touchpoints more important than ever.
The free ride on the world’s largest social network is almost over, as marketers continue to question Facebook, “How low can you go?”
What have you done to ease the transition from Facebook as a word of mouth powerhouse to a pay-to-play platform only?
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