If you are a Marketer, chances are you aren’t exactly looking for activities to keep yourself busy, so if you spent any amount of time (and let’s not forget MONEY) on Facebook ads over the past few years to drive new Likes to your Facebook page, you have plenty of reason to be a little upset with the social media giant, who has recently admitted what most of us have known for the past year: That Facebook is dropping organic reach for brands to just a hair over zero.
The official announcement is nothing surprising, and certainly nothing sudden. Facebook has been increasingly cutting down on it’s “organic reach” for brands over the past couple of years, and as of February (2015), the world’s largest social network has dialed it back even more.
How bad is it? Well, according to AdAge (http://adage.com/article/
For those of you who aren’t familiar with what exactly “Organic Reach” is, it refers to how many of a brand’s “fans” are shown a post you make on Facebook when you haven’t paid Facebook to show it on their timelines. It’s how many people see your brand’s posts for free.
Facebook is -of course- putting much a happier spin on the nature of this change than many of the businesses who are finding their hard-won audiences eroding before their eyes. According to Facebook, the change is simply an attempt to improve user experience by de-cluttering the (admittedly) overly busy news feeds of all of its millions of users. On paper, that’s a good thing. I’m sure we can all name a few brands who were basically spamming their fans usually out of sheer ignorance of how one actually uses Facebook more than out of any sinister plans.
The problem is that those aren’t the only businesses that are being (basically) wiped off the face of the platform. Take the little independent cafe that would post to their fans that they are hosting a weekend fundraiser for their customer-favorite server who is raising money to adopt a little girl from South East Asia. Chances are, most of their fans will never see that unless the store purchases an advertisement. Obviously, this is a bit of a melodramatic example, but it gets the point across.
The biggest losers in this sprint to zero are all the brands that tried to out-think the experts by killing their actual websites and simply using their Facebook Fan Pages as their de facto homes on the web. I’d like to say that there aren’t many who fall into that category, but between 2008 and 2012 during the height of Facebook’s huge surge in popularity, many smaller businesses- low on time and resources- made the switch, and have subsequently found themselves renting an marketing house on increasingly shaky leased ground. Those businesses had might as well be invisible.
Now, let’s be honest– we all know Facebook is a for-profit company…there are shareholder to keep happy, employees to keep fed, and Zuckerberg’s hoodies don’t grow on trees. Selling ad space is how they keep the service “free” for all of us, and that is actually a good thing. Facebook has some of the strongest targeting features you can find, and the service has provided proven results for companies that know how to use the ads platform correctly. The problem isn’t that they want to sell you ads. The problem is in how far they have cut the organic reach back. How far back? Estimations place it in the 4% (and dropping) range after this most recent change.
So, realistically, what does this mean for most businesses? If your marketing plan uses the free features of Facebook as a cornerstone for attracting or broadcasting to your fans, it’s no longer a solid long term plan. By all means, keep updating your page since many of your fans will still stop by to check for updates, keep sharing your more awesome and relevant content, and keep using it to interact with your fans in real time, but don’t make it a time and money consuming pillar of your marketing strategy unless you have the budget and the know-how to effectively use Facebook ads.
If you DO use Facebook ads- and I believe that you definitely SHOULD- use them to move people to a landing page on your own website, and not to buy new “likes” for your Facebook page. By focusing instead on buying clicks to a relevant landing page on your own site, you really will “own” the lead, and- more importantly, you’ll be able to continue the relationship with your new leads through your email marketing efforts far more consistently than by trying to rely on organic Facebook posts. Besides that- it’s a simple thing to ask someone to like your Facebook page once they are on your email list anyways- and that’s FREE!
Interested in seeing Facebook’s official take on the updates? Read more at:https://www.facebook.com/