Facebook’s Changes, and The End of Organic Reach

 Daniel Baker 1:56 pm on January 12, 2018
A Picture of Daniel Baker

By now you’ve probably heard the news. Facebook is changing their algorithm and threatening engagement levels and reach for brands.

While this will lead to reduced organic reach, it isn’t the end of days for brands on Facebook. In fact, it’s an opportunity for smart brands (with budget) to capitalize.

For years we’ve preached to you about the value of a Paid Social Media budget. Basically, using Boosted Posts and Sponsored ads to increase your reach and in turn your engagement. This is now more important than ever.

Photo: AP

As a result of the negative publicity associated with Facebook’s role in shaping the results of the 2016 Presidential Election, Facebook realized that they have to change the way they proliferate messaging. Boosted posts and Sponsored Ads have always been reviewed by the platform, but organic posts, with no budget behind them were polluting the news feeds of Facebook users, without recourse.

With today’s announcement, this will change.

In the past, Social Media (specifically Facebook) has always been predicated on getting something for nothing. By setting up a page, and posting, brands were able to reach their target market, and more importantly their fans organically without investment. And, we as marketers were able to abuse this. By augmenting posting times, we could maximize organic reach and put your messaging in front of thousands of users FOR FREE. While this has changed over the years, (we’ve seen organic reach drop from 50% to 20% to 12%, 6% and now around 2.5%) those days are officially over. Organic reach is about to drop again, but this time it’s dropping to zero. 

Why? Mark Zuckerberg announced yesterday (full post below) that he wants to change Facebook to refocus Facebook to help us to have “have more meaningful social interactions.” We can expect “more from your friends, family and groups.” And here’s the kicker:

“As we roll this out, you’ll see less public content like posts from businesses, brands, and media. And the public content you see more will be held to the same standard — it should encourage meaningful interactions between people.”

So what does this mean for you? Brands that weren’t spending to support their content with Paid Social Media are immediately in trouble. Facebook users will now see less content from smaller brands, and brands with huge followings that were not investing in paid social alike. Gone will be the posts in your feed from local businesses, and celebrities too. Basically, any businesses unwilling to invest in Facebook will disappear from the news feed.

Fortunately, for the brands that we represent, it won’t affect business as usual. We haven’t relied on just organic reach for years. We boost and target their content. And, our in-depth understanding of how the Ads Manager platform works, will help them remain relevant even as Facebook changes. Again.

Now, why is this really happening? Why is Facebook changing their platform? Why is a company that is publicly traded, with stockholders to answer to, trying to create “more meaningful social interactions from your friends, family and groups?” Realistically, why would they care about this?

Answer: They’ve run out of space.

In December we recognized a problem. Competing brands were all investing in Facebook to finish Q4 with a bang. When we looked to Boost Posts and use Sponsored Ads, our cost per acquisition for new fans, and Reach CPM shot up. With constant optimization we were able to control this, but still there was a fundamental problem.

The news feed was effectively full. Users were seeing organic posts by the hundreds of brands that they follow, the pages they’ve liked, and the events they’ve joined. On top of that, the groups that they participate in, and their average of 338 friends were taking up all the real estate.

Basically, Facebook saw that they were losing what made them a competitive marketing tactic. The cost efficiency that has made them relevant to marketers was disappearing. And they saw that without this they were jeopardizing their singular revenue stream – Ad Revenue.

So as we dive into Mark Zuckerberg’s post, let’s focus on a couple key phrases.

“As we roll this out, you’ll see less public content like posts from businesses, brands, and media. And the public content you see more will be held to the same standard — it should encourage meaningful interactions between people.”

– Translation: The brands that were creating plenty of comments, reactions and shares, by paying, will continue to see results, by paying. But those who weren’t paying, are going to see their reach plummet.

“We’ve seen people interact way more around live videos than regular ones.”

– Translation: In our last algorithm shift we gave priority reach to all video content, then people only watched for 3 seconds. Basically, Facebook believed that they were evolving content, but the users didn’t participate, so they are changing the algorithm.

“I expect the time people spend on Facebook and some measures of engagement will go down. But I also expect the time you do spend on Facebook will be more valuable. And if we do the right thing, I believe that will be good for our community and our business over the long term too.”

– Translation: It’s time for everyone to focus on what content they’re sharing. Quality over quantity.

At tag we are prepared strategically and tactically to help you weather this storm. While we will need to tweak your social media strategies to maximize effectiveness as Facebook rolls out their changes, we are ready for the task.

If you have any questions about your social media approach, please feel free to give us a call, and we can look at how we can optimize your strategy to ensure your success.

 

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Philips Logo, FCH Logo and Ricoh Logo

These brands achieved double digit growth by working with tag's truthology platform.

Sign up for our FREE truthology workshop and get on your way to achieving great results like these*

* free workshops offered to a limited number of qualified organizations