Pay to Play: The New Facebook Algorithm
For most businesses, setting up a Facebook fan page was a no brainer. But now, we have just walked into a new era. The recent Facebook updates have left small business owners banging their heads against the walls. We won’t let fear take over… instead, we’ll walk you through all you need to know to keep up with Facebook!
Facebook was the easiest way to connect with consumers and build up a brand that would stick with viewers long after they clicked the Like button. Nowadays, nearly every business worth its salt has a fan page competing in the same tired market that is slowly becoming immune to ads.
Now that Facebook has the Hide feature, users can chose to hide all posts from a business that they’re tired of seeing. If you have 100 followers, only 65 might actually be able to see your posts. The other 35 might have hidden the page. Many social media consultants are now steering their clients away from Facebook, and it appears they have good reason to do so. Facebook is slowly becoming a straight-up content publisher, and unless you’re paying, you might be wasting your time.
Facebook Fan Pages: am I wasting my time?
We certainly hope not, but take a look at some of the data below and see if it makes sense to you. Much of this discussion sparked from a report released on April first of this year. The study conducted by EdgeRank Checker showed a startling decrease in organic reach. This is, the number that determines how many viewers saw a post on their news feeds. They would either be a fan, visiting the page or having a friend post it.
In February 2012, the percent of organic reach per fan was at a solid sixteen percent.
In March 2014, that number spiraled down to six-and-a-half percent. If we’re to go back to that 100 followers example, less than seven people are seeing your company’s posts pop up in their news feeds. Interestingly, viral reach is now included in organic reach, says Facebook. The most common viral content creators are media and publisher sites. Even with an audience of more than 100 thousand Likes, small businesses produced more than eight percent less viral content than their media and publisher counterparts with the same number of Likes.
There are still a few sectors who are thriving still using just Facebook fan pages. These are mostly entertainers, artists, musicians and movies. These sectors have strong fan bases who want to know the most up-to-date info on their favorites bands and movies.
Fans are also happy to repost these links and share them with their friends, who probably have similar interests. If you’re not in one of those four categories, you might be wasting your time with fan pages.
Facebook does offer paid reach, which is when a company pays Facebook to advertise on the pages. If, but more than likely when, the percent of organic reach dips down to one percent or lower, companies large and small will be paying for each and every Like.
I’m a small business owner, how does this affect me?
To answer this, let’s look to Jay Baer at Convince and Convert. When the news from EdgeRank broke, Baer declared Reachpocalypse. In other words: the official decline of organic reach for the average local business.
He admits that at the end of the day, Facebook is primarily a business looking out for itself and its shareholders, just like any other business. For years, businesses were able to advertise on Facebook virtually for free, but now those days may be numbered.
Fortunately, Baer has some advice for businesses looking to revamp their marketing strategy and keep from paying to advertise.
The four commandments of Facebook marketing
- Thou shall stop relying on Facebook entirely. Don’t get out your wallet just yet. Remember there are a ton of other places on the Internet that you can advertise for free.
- Thou shall re-evaluate social media investments. Look at your budget for social media. See how you can use those investments elsewhere and to a better end.
- Thou shall get better at Facebook-ing. Let’s be honest: Facebook isn’t rocket science. Still, you better know your way around if you really want to engage your audience and keep them coming back to your page and reposting your posts. Think about your personal Facebook page and the brands you like. Which ones do you click on often? Why? Get creative with your posts.
- Thou shall choose another messenger. What about Instagram? Twitter? Dare we even mention that desert we call Google+?
How do I boost my organic reach again?
Baer and other professionals have been trying to answer this question for some time now. First and foremost, they advise clients to simply get better at posting. Pay better attention to which posts get more Likes and comments and at what times. This will help you gauge which of your fans are interacting and why.
By creating more comment-worthy content, businesses can encourage fans and readers to carry their messages for them. To Baer, this is one of the trickiest, yet most effective, ways of succeeding at social media marketing. As mentioned, people who repost a link to your page probably have friends and family with similar interests. They’re doing your marketing for you. Above all, social media consultants are encouraging their clients to utilize other social media platforms to build multiple audiences with different needs. For example, Instagram users are looking for creative photos and a personal connecting with the company. Clients can tap into their audience by sharing photos back and forth and by asking for photos from users. Some businesses like to run contests, offering a discount for the most creative photo with their product. Having a YouTube channel or Pinterest board will also encourage audience participation.
YouTube channels are great for creating a wide variety of content, including behind-the-scenes looks and how-to tutorials. Pinterest can help you understand what else your fans like so you can connect with them on varying fronts.
Bottom line, even though now it may seem like Facebook’s use for business is fading, don’t jump the ship yet! Facebook will keep changing. Take this as part of a broader strategy in which small businesses will be able to create highly targeted Ads at very low costs.
Finally, we do believe that taking advantage of diversifying your social media reach can be a game changer!
What do you think? Tell us in the comments!