Ever since Facebook updated its NewsFeed algorithm a few months ago, numerous pages have noticed the organic reach of their posts has dropped dramatically. Many people believe that this is just a way for the social network to make more money rather than improve the quality of content that users are seeing.
However, several industry commentators and critics have predicted this possibility for quite some time and it seems like the free ride for businesses is now over. Even so, Facebook has responded to a number of questions regarding organic reach in order to clear up a few things.
Why has organic reach been falling?
According to Brian Boland, head of the Ads Product Marketing team at Facebook, the answer to this one is simple: “More and more content is being created and shared every day.” He goes on to add there are 1,500 stories that could potentially appear on the average person’s NewsFeed every time they log on. What’s more, users like an increasing number of Pages too, which only adds fuel to the fire.
As a result, competition is fierce and it becomes harder for brands to gain exposure. A Facebook user simply wouldn’t have the time to look at all of these posts and might become disillusioned with the site. To address this, Facebook’s algorithm is now designed to identify and deliver the most relevant content possible, approximately 300 NewsFeed posts. Consequently, Facebook believes it has managed to become even more engaging, even though content on the site continues to grow.
Is it just a way to make more money?
Unsurprisingly, Facebook has said no and is reiterating the point that it wants to provide “the best experience for the people that use Facebook.” On the commercial side of things, the social network also believes that these changes will actually benefit brands.
How exactly? Because if Facebook’s NewsFeed algorithm is delivering appealing and attractive content to an active audience, they are more likely to pick up on the messages a brand puts out there too.
What’s the point of having fans if they aren’t viewing content?
So you’ve worked hard to increase the amount of people liking your page, but if they don’t have access to content, what is the point of having them? Well, Facebook believes that more fans give your business greater credibility together with better insights into customer demographics and interests.
But ultimately, more fans mean that the ads you purchase will be more effective. If an ad has a social context, or as Facebook puts it “when a person sees their friend likes your business,” they drive 50 per cent more recall and 35 per cent higher online sales lift on average.
How should businesses now use Facebook?
Even though publishing great content, which “teaches people something, entertains them, makes them think, or in some other way adds value to their lives,” can still achieve organic NewsFeed success, Facebook has branded this approach as “unpredictable.” It even went so far as saying that viral posts “rarely correspond to a business’s core goals.”
Instead, Facebook believes that specific goals and greater value can be achieved by using paid media. This allows brands to use the site more effectively and reach bigger audiences with better accuracy compared to organic content.
Can a business still succeed with lower organic reach?
Apparently so and Facebook has given a few proven examples to reinforce this point. There is little doubt that sponsored posts or column advertisements will increase website visitors, but whether this turns out to be worthwhile will be down to each individual brand.
The social networks says that Cadbury managed to achieve “business results that rivalled TV for efficiency” after the confectionary brand targeted 16-24-years in NewsFeed, while Salesforce cut its cost-per-lead goals by more than 50 per cent by using Facebook Ads to drive high-quality and cost-effective leads.
What about the future?
It certainly doesn’t look like Facebook will go back on these changes or increase the amount of content an individual user can see anytime soon. However, it does acknowledge the need for greater transparency and better communication when it comes to making adjustments and alterations to the site’s fundamental features.
Just like any other marketing platform or social network, Facebook doesn’t stand still for very long and remains committed to changing its product offering from a simple recreational network to an all-encompassing content delivery channel. What does this mean for businesses? Additional funds for Facebook will undoubtedly have to be set aside.