As you may already know, Facebook’s organic Page reach (the number of unique people who saw your post in News Feed or on your Page) has been on a continuous decline for most Facebook Page owners for a while now. Facebook has confirmed in a recent post that due to the competition for each News Feed story, Page owners will most likely be reaching a smaller number of fans.
“Because the content in News Feed is always changing, and we’re seeing more people sharing more content, Pages will likely see changes in distribution. For many Pages, this includes a decline in organic reach.” Facebook December 5, 2013
I’ve also already discussed the fact that Facebook is now a pay-to-play platform in a previous article and questioned if you should dump your Facebook Page in 2014. Although this shouldn’t be a surprise, Facebook Page owners are very unhappy and annoyed with the fact that they now have to pay to reach their fans on Facebook.
As well, the idea of leveling the playing field to compete with their larger competitors seems to be slowly fading for many of them. The majority of small businesses simply don’t have the budget or resources!
Here’s a fantastic video created by Veritasium which reflects the views and frustrations of many Facebook Page owners.
The Problem With Facebook
With Page reach plummeting, many Page owners are looking for advice to figure out how to best handle the situation. Here’s what Marketers and Industry Experts are saying about Facebook’s ongoing decreasing organic Page reach and their advice for business owners and marketers.
What He Says:
The Facebook squeeze is a predictable result of too much content aiming for too little consumer attention. As one Facebook exec stated, the average user has 1,500 possible bits of content in their daily stream and it is growing fast.
I think the latest decline in reach is probably just the beginning. The options seem limited — pluck down the money Facebook requires for sponsored posts, somehow scale your efforts to try to break through organically, or find new ways to reach your customers that doesn’t involve Facebook.
Always providing his own analytic research, Jon Loomer offers Advanced Facebook marketing and advertising strategies for advanced Facebook marketers. Find him at jonloomer.com and on Facebook at Jon Loomer Digital
What He Says:
We’re focusing on the wrong metric. Reach is an inexact measurement, and Facebook can and has changed the way they measure it. In fact, there were even six months last year when it was under reported (and everyone freaked out, not knowing everything was fine the whole time).
A good example of this is that Facebook has been under reporting Organic Reach for the past few months when posts are promoted. Users can and will be reached organically and with an ad. In the past, Facebook would have measured that as one Organic Reach and one Paid Reach. Now, the only credit is going to Paid.
Is engagement down? Are website traffic referrals down? Are sales down? I couldn’t tell you if this is the case because virtually NO ONE is mentioning these things. These are the things that matter, yet we are obsessed with this one metric.
This one metric, by the way, that isn’t available to us on other social networks. No one cares what their Reach is on Twitter (you can bet it’s awful) or Google+ (yikes!).
You should continue to share high quality content that helps your target audience. You will continue to reach those who engage most with you.
But if you want to reach more people, share more often. And, of course, don’t be afraid to advertise.
Social Media Consultant, Speaker and Strategist. Co-author of the book Facebook Marketing All-in-One for Dummies . Also known as, Grandma Mary – Social Media Edutainer. Find her at andreavahl.com and on Twitter @AndreaVahl
What She Says:
Facebook’s announcement of the decrease in organic reach for page owners has a lot of people very frustrated (myself included). But I don’t think that this means we should all close our Facebook Pages right now.
What we need to focus on is getting people to sign up for our e-mail lists with creative promotions. Then we also will need to spend some money on Facebook ads each month (it doesn’t have to be a lot). And we also need to keep watching what is working on our pages to get that engagement and reach.
Facebook is still the place to be with 1.2 Billion people on it. Take a look at some of my other recommendations in my post: 5 Things You Can Do in Response to the Decrease in Facebook’s Organic Reach (but note that text posts may not work quite as well with one of their recent changes).
Shelly Kramer is the Founder and Chief Imagination Officer of V3 Integrated Marketing. She describes herself as a marketing/digital strategist, geek, tech lover, idea generator, gadget addict, WWF-loving, wordsmith-y kinda gal. Totally down to earth and smart business woman, you can find her www.v3im.com and on Twitter @ShellyKramer
What She Says:
I think that we marketers have been smoking the Facebook crack for a long time and if we didn’t see this coming, it’s our own fault. Facebook is a business. They’re a publicly traded company and their mission is to make money and a return on investment for their shareholders. Their job isn’t to provide a free platform for businesses to use to attract customers and sell more stuff to more people.
The adage that if “it’s free you’re the product” has never been more applicable than it is in regard to this discussion. Facebook needed users to make its platform valuable. Marketers flocked there, businesses flocked there because people – the people we want to reach are there.
For us to expect to leverage a platform to grow our businesses – no matter what they are – and to not have to pay to reach those prospective customers is ludicrous. So instead of complaining about lack of reach, brands, marketers and even small business owners need to get smarter about marketing. They need to understand that if they want access to Facebook’s user base, they’ll likely have to pay for it by buying Facebook Ads (which, in some cases are highly effective).
They’ll also have to be smart enough to develop a marketing strategy that doesn’t involve putting all their eggs in the Facebook basket. They need to focus on integrated marketing campaigns and on building their own databases and using Facebook (and other social media channels) to help them grow their own customer lists so that they can market directly to their customers outside of a platform owned by someone else. It’s not rocket science, it’s smart marketing.
And this isn’t some revelation — it’s always been dangerous to rely on a “free” platform over which you have no control. So when people are all up in arms about this, I’m really not sure why. Unless it was just that they were so consumed by the Facebook crack that they just weren’t considering the inevitable road ahead.
Does this impact small businesses who want to use social media to reach their customers? Absolutely. Do they, too, need to be smarter when it comes to the investment of marketing dollars and being strategic about how they interact with current customers and attract prospective customers? Absolutely.
Is it actually smarter for small businesses to understand the power of the Web in general, focus on having a well-developed business website, using smart SEO and combining their efforts in that regard with strategic social media marketing? You guessed it — absolutely!
Founder and CEO of BundlePost, Robert is a long time technology, sales and marketing executive, a father of 2 and passionate about tech and social media. You can find him on BundlePost.com and on Twitter @fondalo
What He Says:
There are two groups that will be hit hardest due to Facebook’s pay to play changes. They are the average user and the SMB (small/medium sized business). Users on one hand just simply want to see the content from pages they have already liked and businesses want to reach the users they have already invested heavily to acquire. Both are hurt by what Facebook is doing. Here’s the problem… The business model that Facebook is deploying with pages will not work long-term and more importantly it isn’t sustainable.
If average businesses and marketers can’t obtain real results using social media marketing without the advertising spend, then social media marketing has become something else and the entire house of cards is in jeopardy, including the business of teaching about Facebook.
Based on what everyone already knows about this issue there are only three things that the social media marketer can do.
1) Do some minimal testing of boosted Facebook posts where it makes sense. If the result of increased traffic and ultimately real revenue occurs, then repeat it and scale it up. If the results do not justify the cost, cease immediately.
2) Adjust your posting and content types to maximize your reach based on what Facebook has already said they are doing and going to do further.
3) Finally, you have to get effective on the other social platforms where your audience spends time in the highest concentrations. Do a deep review of your strategy and execution on these other social networks and invest substantially more time where your reach is not being controlled and you’re not required to spend money to communicate with the audience you build.
Scott Stratten is the President of Un-Marketing. He is an expert in Viral, Social, and Authentic Marketing. He also has written three best-selling business books. You can find him at unmarketing.com and on Twitter @unmarketing
What He Says:
Always entertaining and honest, Scott Stratten made his opinion very clear in this video. He thinks that businesses have built their houses on rented land and it’s time brands start paying Facebook. He also suggests that if businesses are unhappy or unwilling to pay, they should simply go somewhere else where they can build their “own house” and stop depending on Facebook.
Brands: Stop Complaining About Facebook
In a recent interview on the Social Media Marketing Podcast, Mari Smith and Jay Baer discussed along with Michael Stelzner the issue of Facebook’s declining Reach and offered some advice for Page owners.
You can find Michael Stelzner’s full interview here Facebook Marketing Declines: How Business Should React
Here’s some of what they had to say:
Mari Smith is a social media strategist and widely recognized as one of the top Facebook marketing expert in the world. She is the author of The New Relationship Marketing and coauthor of Facebook Marketing: An Hour A Day. You can find her at marismith.com and on her Facebook Page Mari Smith
What She Says:
Mari admits that people are very frustrated with Facebook’s reduced reach. Some business owners are even saying “the heck with it” and are abandoning their Page and turning to their Personal Profiles instead. She thinks this is somewhat of an uninformed decision. According to her, there are a many benefits in using a Page versus a Personal Profile such as the use of apps and analytics. One other great reason to have a Page she says is that it’s completely indexed. So for SEO purpose alone, it’s worth it.
Mari also suggests that you should use Facebook ads even if it’s just $5 per day. But if you don’t have a budget, there are still things you can do. Use your Personal Profile in conjunction with your Page and turn on the Followers option on your Profile (given the fact that Facebook favors post from Personal Profile). As well, using Facebook Groups can be a great addition and beneficial for community building.
Finally, have a solid business plan and use Social Media as an amplifier.
Mari’s message: You can’t put all your eggs in Facebook’s basket. 2014 has to be the year of diversification and integration.
What He Says:
Jay acknowledges that Facebook is not working as well as it once did for marketers. Facebook is now a public company who needs to generate tones of advertising dollars.
He says in his interview that they’ve predicted this for years and this is the oldest business playbooks in history which is; “let’s let you get in something free i.e. free exposure to your fans on Facebook and then let’s make it not free once you’re hooked on it.”
According to him, Facebook has certainly set this up so that businesses now need to pay for some of the exposure that was formally free.
He thinks that this is a Natural evolution; it’s becoming more about the media and less about the Social. It’s going to be about dollars, not just about being interesting, spicy or fun and Social Media is turning into an advertising platform.
Jay says that paid social will be a requirement for almost all businesses and you’ll definitely have to pay for social to reach its maximum effectiveness.
He believes that some brands are too Facebook centric and have built houses on rented land. Jay says that he wouldn’t be surprised if 2014 was the year Google Plus became a thing because people are looking for alternatives.
But Jay confesses that even professionals don’t know the secret code. He thinks that you can still be effective on Facebook for free but it’s becoming increasingly difficult. It shouldn’t be a surprise for businesses, what else truly valuable in marketing is free?
Jay suggests playing the algorithm game to make sure your posts get the maximum organic reach. It takes time and practice but it’s not hard. Jay stresses the importance of needing to “own” some assets.
He also recommends being smart integrated marketers and understand what amongst all the different marketing tactics at your disposal works best for your business; it might or not be Facebook.
What He Says:
Michael showed great concern for small business owners and brands using Facebook to market their business. But he thinks that if you’re putting all your eggs in twitter or Facebook you’ll be in serious trouble. He believes that businesses need to allocate a percentage of their budget to assets that they call their own.
The Final Message
There are 1.19 billion monthly active users on Facebook, so it would seem like it would be the logical place for marketers to spend their time. But for frustrated business owners who have already put in a lot of time and energy on Facebook marketing or want to get in at this point but are working with a limited marketing budget, they will now have to face this new reality; Facebook marketing is much harder, you’ll now have to be very resourceful and expect to pay to reach your audience.
It’s also reasonable to think that we might be seeing this happening more with time as other social networks are also looking for a way to monetize their platform.
The most important message from the Experts: Don’t put all your eggs in Facebook’s basket, diversify and make sure that you don’t build your business on rented land; you need to “own” your main digital real estate.
Have you experienced a decline in Page Reach? How are you dealing with it?