Many of the more than 40 million Facebook Page owners diligently share useful links, fun pictures, and occasional update their fans with news about new products and services.
The understanding is that your consistency will pay off and your useful content will be viewed by the 50, 500 or 5,000 “likes” or fans that you painstakingly built up over time. Hate to break it to you, but that’s no longer the case. Facebook has thrown yet another monkey wrench into your efforts.
Views slow to a trickle
In the past, when Facebook adjusted their algorithms to inhibit organic growth, they hemmed and hawed and skirted around the real reason: forcing Page owners to pay for ads and promoted (or boosted, as it’s now called) posts. This time they’re being more blunt about the fact that marketers are going to have to pay for reach.
Facebook bluntly states:
Pages will likely see changes in distribution. For many Pages, this includes a decline in organic reach. We expect this trend to continue as the competition for each story remains strong and we focus on quality.
I’ve seen this happen in dramatic fashion on one of our Facebook Pages with over 5,000 fans. Posts with links that generated hundreds, occasionally, thousands of views, now struggle to get 90 views, even posts with many likes and shares. One post that garnered over a dozen shares and likes registered a paltry 89 views. Eighty-nine!
Pay to Play
Facebook goes on to advise Page owners to use:
…a combination of engaging Page posts and advertising to promote your message more broadly. Advertising lets Pages reach the fans they already have and find new customers as well. The fans you have matter. In addition to being some of the most loyal customers, fans also make the advertising on Facebook even more effective.
So, we should continue to work at building up our fan base – not to increase our free distribution channel, but to make our paid advertising more effective. Wow.
They’re right: we boosted a post that was saddled with less than 100 views. For a $100 boost over a 24-hour period, the post got over 43,000 views. Paid reach: 99%, Organic reach: 1%. I tweeted about this and others weighed in with similar frustrating stories.
The message from Facebook is clear: pay us if you want anyone to see your posts. So what’s a small business with a meager marketing budget to do?
What to do?
There’s not much a Page owner can do to reach former levels of viewership without paying, except to continue posting useful links and engaging content, and occasionally (and strategically) boost a post or place an ad. When you do budget for an ad or boosted post, optimize with a call-to-action.
Facebook money vacuum aside, check out D.J. Thistle’s useful 17 strategies to improve the decline in your Facebook organic reach. You’ll also find useful information in this excellent piece from Web Marketing Today: Facebook Shifts Focus; Marketers Could Too. In a nutshell, the article gives a thumbs down to formerly popular image and meme posts, and a thumbs up to news, quality links and content.