Facebook Just Changed the Game for Your BrandDigital Marketing
Did Facebook just hand brand pages a death sentence? If you keep up with social media news at all, you probably know exactly what I’m talking about. If you don’t, here’s a little update. For the last several months (beginning in late 2013), Facebook has slowly been limiting the organic reach of posts from brand pages. The Internet has been buzzing with news about this for a while, but things ticked up last week when Sam Biddle from Valleywag wrote this article citing an anonymous source close to Facebook’s internal operations. Essentially, the source claims that organic brand reach on the popular social network will eventually be as low as 1-2% of fans. Not surprisingly, this acknowledgement has been met with uproar and disdain from various sectors of the marketing world.
Was it as surprising as some people made it out to be? I don’t really think so. Like I said, if you read social media blogs or, more importantly, pay attention to your brand’s Facebook Insights, the writing has been on the wall for some time.
If you’re a brand and you use Facebook to connect with your audience, this means things have permanently changed. Facebook isn’t be the same social network it was when you created your page. Let’s face it—a lot of stuff has already changed, and there’s more in the pipeline. In short, if you want your Facebook fans to continue seeing your posts for free, it’s time to seriously up your game.
From Facebook’s side of things, of course, the algorithm updates that are penalizing brand content were all put in place to benefit the user. They want people checking their News Feeds, engaging with the content they see there, then checking their feeds again. Back in December, they admitted on the Facebook for Business page that, as the result of increased competition for limited space in the News Feed, more people publishing content, and their efforts to make News Feed content as valuable to users as possible, unpaid reach for brand pages will continue to decline.
For many marketers, however, this seems to be just one more sneaky move from Facebook. Some, including Biddle, feel that Facebook enticed brands to join its network in order to gain followers and engage with them for free. Then they pulled what he calls “the best practical joke of the internet age.” He claims that by effectively forcing brands to pay for exposure, Facebook is “holding the whole operation hostage.”
Perhaps the most concerning thing about all of this is that small, local businesses with Facebook pages are being affected along with huge, international corporations. According to Will Oremus of Slate, small businesses are being impacted, but (for right now, at least) they are being spared the worst of it. Pages with 500,000+ likes are the ones that are really feeling the brunt of things. Still, it’s concerning that local businesses who rely on Facebook to reach their customers are being lumped in with the big guys, who, in my opinion, are much more likely to create the sales-y, annoying posts that Facebook is seeking to eliminate. I don’t know about you, but I’m not offended by announcements about specials at my favorite local restaurant or sales at a neighborhood store in my News Feed.
What Can You Do About It?
This whole situation is causing many companies to reevaluate their presence on Facebook and their posting strategy. Many of the experts who are defending Facebook’s move claim that this is how things should have been all along. They say that Facebook is a social network, and as such, it should allow people to connect to people. Likes don’t necessarily mean that users care about your content, and brands shouldn’t be allowed to clog the News Feed with advertisements for free.
Like it or not, it looks like this change is here to stay, and if you’re going to stick around, you’ll have to adapt. Here are a few ways to help maintain your brand’s reach in the wake of Facebook’s updates:
- Buy Facebook Ads – This one’s blatantly obvious, but it’s the most effective way to ensure that you’re still visible on Facebook. Depending on your budget, you can opt to promote your posts. For some small businesses, though, this might not be feasible. The fee to advertise on Facebook is based on two factors: the size of your brand’s following and your budget. Find out more information about Facebook ads here.
- Be More Interesting – This sounds simple, but it can actually be pretty tough. One of the best ways to do this is to make sure you’re posting all kinds of content. If you’re promoting your own blog posts, you should also be sharing photos. Consider developing a Facebook contest or asking questions. Provide content that the people who do see your posts will want to engage with. Check out this article from Scott Ayres for more on this subject.
- Post More Frequently – The more often you post on Facebook, the better your chances of being seen. Don’t get me wrong—you shouldn’t bombard people—but if you’re only posting once every few days, now might be a good time to kick the frequency up a notch.
- Build Your Following on Other Networks – Don’t put all of your eggs in Facebook’s basket. A solid social media strategy involves more than one network. If Twitter and Instagram work for your brand, devote some additional resources to them.
- Use Other Channels to Drive Traffic – If one of your primary reasons for being on Facebook is to drive traffic to your website, consider looking to other marketing channels for help in achieving this goal. Invest in some SEO for increased organic traffic, or start an email newsletter if you haven’t already.
What Do You Think?
So, what’s your take on all of this? Is Facebook being unfair or just going back to its roots? If you’re a small business owner, how are you planning to adjust your strategy? Share your thoughts in the comments!