Are you seeing Facebook organic reach declining for your business page?
You’re not alone and it’s likely that things are about to get worse before getting any better. Facebook released an official statement a month ago detailing their plans to cut promotional posts in the News Feed going forward in January 2015. It’s spurred a lot of heated debate on whether Facebook is even worthwhile for businesses anymore and I certainly have my own opinion on the matter as well.
Before we get into it, let’s see exactly what Facebook said that has business owners in such a tizzy.
“According to people we surveyed, there are some consistent traits that make organic posts feel too promotional:
- Posts that solely push people to buy a product or install an app
- Posts that push people to enter promotions and sweepstakes with no real context
- Posts that reuse the exact same content from ads
“Beginning in January 2015, people will see less of this type of content in their News Feeds. As we’ve said before, News Feed is already a competitive place – as more people and Pages are posting content, competition to appear in News Feed has increased. All of this means that Pages that post promotional creative should expect their organic distribution to fall significantly over time.”
They go on further by including examples they created to show the specific kind of posts they’re targeting with the change.
It’s very clear that Facebook intends to make significant changes to its algorithm to downplay the organic reach of “promotional posts” but what exactly does that mean and how are they going to do? These are key details that still remain unclear but there’s a lot of speculation as to what could happen.
Flashback To 2013: The Beginning of The End
It was a year ago this month that the first steps were taken to dramatically decrease Facebook organic reach and shockwaves were sent throughout the social media world. Before December 2013, page owners were upset that only an average of 16% of those who have liked their page ended up seeing their posts in the News Feed.
On December 10th 2013, North Carolina-based social media marketing agency IGNITE released a report that analyzed 689 posts from 21 brand pages to see how widespread the changes were. The findings concluded that the number of people who saw posts from those brands declined by 44% on average, with some pages seeing declines as high as 88%.
We noticed our own Facebook page decline to less than 2% and it’s not for a lack of sharing quality content. I can probably count on one hand how many times we’ve ever tried to “sell” something through our Facebook posts in the past year yet we continue to see decreased organic reach.
You may have a similar scenario playing out on your pages as several people have asked me about this very subject consistently over the past year. The fact remains that it’s all still speculation but that doesn’t mean we can’t take precautions to help improve our chances of getting ahead of the curve.
What Are The Experts Saying?
I took to Twitter to ask a few experts I respect about their thoughts on the Facebook organic reach debacle and what they think business owners should focus on going forward.
Here are a few opinions to consider:
1. Post Less Often & Keep It High Quality
Facebook marketing expert Mari Smith is confident that quality will still prevail going forward in 2015 but doesn’t shy away from recommending an integrated paid strategy as well.
@MelonieDodaro Post LESS often. Only HIGH quality content. PAY to promote strategically. Integrate other channels, esp EMAIL. Track. Repeat.
— Mari Smith (@MariSmith) December 16, 2014
2. Facebook Isn’t For Everyone
Jon Loomer made a great point when he said that the expectations Facebook created previously with organic reach were unreasonable and truthfully, we were pretty spoiled. We had an incredible (and free) platform to promote our businesses in a way that was never previously possible. Something had to give eventually.
@MelonieDodaro What’s their reach on Twitter? FB isn’t for everyone. If they think it’s a waste of time and can do better elsewhere, go…
— Jon Loomer (@jonloomer) December 15, 2014
@MelonieDodaro But I think there are unreasonable expectations for the platform given how spoiled we were before.
— Jon Loomer (@jonloomer) December 15, 2014
3. Suck It Up!
If you’re upset about declining Facebook organic reach, Scott Ayres thinks you should suck it up, buttercup. As a realist, I appreciate his perspective because there is no sense in wasting time or energy complaining about something you can’t change.
Suck it up! @MelonieDodaro Reach is probably something Facebook wishes they’d never shown us. Does Twitter, Google+ or Instagram show it? NO
— Scott Ayres (@scottayres) December 15, 2014
4. Keep The Selling On Your Site
Mike Stelzner, founder of Social Media Examiner, advises business owners to keep the selling where it belongs: on your own website.
@MelonieDodaro I would say to focus on providing value and linking to rich content people want to share. Let the selling happen on your site
— Michael A. Stelzner (@Mike_Stelzner) December 16, 2014
5. Don’t Forget That Facebook Still Needs You
Holly Homer is a Facebook legend with her uber successful page, Kids Activities Blog, and she’s appropriately optimistic for those that can still dominate in their genre. After all, the Facebook experience does still have huge relevance for those curating great content.
@MelonieDodaro FB needs content curators to compete against other social networks. Dominate that in your genre.
— Holly Homer (@Texasholly) December 16, 2014
What Can You Do When Facebook Organic Reach Declines?
Build Your Assets
Stop worrying about what Facebook, Twitter and any other social media site is going to do next week by building your own digital assets. This means increasing readership on your blog and converting those people to email subscribers at every opportunity.
Provide a high-value “ethical bribe” (i.e. a free report or training) to give your target market a reason to sign up for your email list. Need some ideas on how to do that? Check out this guide on How To Use Social Media To Build Your Email List.
Invest In Facebook Ads
The truth is that Facebook ads are some of the most targeted CPC ads you can get on the internet. The value is there if you stay focused on providing value to your target market without forgetting about generating a calculable ROI. Facebook might not close sales for you right from the News Feed but it can get valuable buyers into your funnel so you can close them when the time is right.
In my personal opinion, Facebook is a waste of time these days if you aren’t investing in ads to promote your content.
Consider Building A Following Elsewhere
Has Facebook put the final nail in the coffin for you with its latest blow to organic reach? In the words of Scott Ayres, suck it up! We’ve downsized the relevance of Facebook in our social media strategy at Top Dog Social Media since we get way more traffic from Twitter and LinkedIn anyways. Heck, these days even Pinterest is doing better for us and we haven’t done an infographic in a while!
If you’ve done all you can and you’re still not satisfied, maybe it’s time to cut your losses. This goes for any marketing decision in your business, not just Facebook!
Create A Sales Funnel
Do you have a sales funnel that feeds targeted prospects through a system that brings them along the buyer’s journey? If you’re just posting to social media sites and hoping to get more people calling and emailing you for services, that’s a fool’s game.
Don’t know what I’m talking about? Educate yourself on the content marketing sales funnel and start building one for your own business. Take control over your success online!
Is Facebook Organic Reach Actually Going Away For Good?
Given that we’ll always be at the mercy of Facebook’s own agenda, making assumptions about the future of Facebook organic reach is somewhat a fool’s game. One thing is certain though and that’s the fact that organic reach will never die as long as social shares are still alive.
Great content will always have a viral factor and no matter which way you slice it, social shares are the purest form of organic reach. Getting in front of anyone’s connections without paying for it should fit anyone’s definition of organic.
As for organic reach in the News Feed from posts by your Facebook page, you’re better off expecting the worst and hoping for the best. A marketing strategy should never be built off hopes and dreams alone.
What do you think? Will you be changing your approach to Facebook in 2015? We’d love to hear, share in the comments below.