Facebook Pages: Is Your Facebook Organic Reach Down?

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Is Your Facebook Organic Reach Dropping?

Want your Facebook community that you’ve built years growing to see the stuff you’re posting?

You may be out of luck soon.

It looks as though you need to start promoting your posts and dishing out the cash if you want to be seen. More and more marketers are noticing a decrease in their organic Facebook reach. Once Facebook became a publicly traded company they shifted some of their focus away from their users and more towards making money. I get it but I’m not sure if it’s the best long term strategy.

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After a question was posed in our SteamFeed group by one of our illustrious featured authors, David Schwartz, I started thinking about how bad Facebook organic reach was really getting.

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Here is what Facebook For Business had to say about it on December 5th.

…competition for each News Feed story is increasing. 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.We expect this trend to continue as the competition for each story remains strong and we focus on quality.

and then there is this one as well.

Page owners should continue using the most effective strategy to reach the right people: 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.

Okay Facebook so you’re saying I should promote my page to get new fans, then once I get those fans I should promote each update to reach those said fans I just paid for?

What’s the point in promoting my page at all?

Why even care about page likes if we just need to promote each update anyway?

Is this really the best way to give your users the best newsfeed experience possible? Could you imagine if I went to Google and typed in “Coca-Cola” but when the results page loaded there was no Coca Cola website because they didn’t pay to be there? I get that those two situations aren’t identical but it should make you think about where Facebook is going with this.

What are people around the web saying about the decline in Facebook organic reach?

1. Ad Age – Cotton Delo

Taken straight from a Facebook sales deck (obtained by Ad Age) that was sent to Facebook partners reads:

“We expect organic distribution of an individual page’s posts to gradually decline over time as we continually work to make sure people have a meaningful experience on the site.”

Cotton Delo from Ad Age goes on to make this great point:

The three-page document also contains a section that repositions how marketers should think about fan acquisition: as a tool for making paid advertising more effective. While free distribution of content is mentioned, it’s the third business benefit listed after “improve advertising effectiveness” (through ads with social context, which is enabled by a substantial fan base) and “lower cost for paid distribution” (since Facebook makes it cheaper to deliver ads with social context.)

In other words, the main reason to acquire fans isn’t to build a free distribution channel for content; it’s to make future Facebook ads work better.

2. Search Engine Watch – Jennifer Slegg

It’s also become clear that simply getting people to like a business page doesn’t mean the business will have any shot at engaging them in the future, even with great content. With Facebook admitting they will be delivering fewer and fewer organic liked pages in user newsfeeds, each Like becomes less and less valuable.

3. Marketing Land – Greg Finn

Clearly this is a big issue for marketers. Essentially, this is admitting that this very platform where brands and companies are building their fan base may just be another outlet for ad dollars. If the best way to “get your stuff seen” is through payments, why would brands display their Facebook info in commercials or marketing material?

4. Social Triggers – Derek Halpern

Your Facebook Fans Don’t Know This…

When people like your page, they don’t realize what goes on behind the scenes. They might like your page because they want recipes, fitness tips, or whatever it is that you do.

They don’t realize that Facebook wants you to pay Facebook to give them the content they want.

 5. BuzzFeed – Charlie Warzel

This one from BuzzFeed is the opposite of what most publishers are seeing. My take is that Facebook is trusting a limited amount of major publishers to provide the “news” and they’re giving preference to brands that are posting about hot topics.

According to data from the BuzzFeed Network — a collection of sites including more than 200 publishers such as The Huffington PostTMZThe Onion, and Slate, with more than 300 million users each month — traffic from Facebook referrals to partner network sites are up 69% from August to October of this year. The spike began in August, when the network received more than 100 million referrals for the first time. In October, the network received 151 million referrals for the month.

The increase comes as Facebook is competing with Twitter to be seen, and used, as a vital news source, and appears to be the result of changes to how news links perform in the News Feed. In short, Facebook appears to have broadly shifted its algorithms and to create formidable new traffic streams that simply weren’t there just weeks earlier.

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Recent Rise in BuzzFeed Facebook Traffic

What are some strategies to improve this decline in your Facebook organic reach?

  1. Switch your marketing strategy to Google+ and Twitter – I’m kidding. Sort of. I would definitely start spending more time on those networks to balance out your strategy and not put all of your eggs in one basket.
  2. If what you’re doing isn’t working then stop. Obviously you’re posting stuff your fans, for the most part, don’t want. Try adding more images, ask more questions, or provide value in some capacity without links all the time.
  3. Post newsworthy content. If it’s a trending topic it should be easier for you to gain traction.
  4. Run a contest
  5. Respond to your fans as soon as possible if they engage with you.
  6. Be original and creative. Your content is much more likely to get shared if it’s something new and valuable to your fans.
  7. Post quality content frequently. You should post at least 4 times a day. Some people recommend posting a lot more than this. Find what works best for you and your fans.
  8. Use hashtags appropriately.
  9. Post at optimal times.
  10. Have a blog? Quote some of the comments you get on your Facebook page. Show your readers that you care what they have to say.
  11. When you do post links try to see if there is a difference in links with image previews and ones without. It’s rumored that links without previews get greater reach.
  12. Some believe that if you upload an image first then paste the link you’ll get much better results.
  13. You can embed your Facebook posts in your blog articles.
  14. Don’t forget a CTA (call to action) at the end of the post. For example: “…What kind of results are you getting from your Facebook page?”
  15. Your page can’t be all about you. That might work for some big brands but it is most likely not going to work for you. Mix in some valuable content from other industry leaders.
  16. Use a tool like PicMonkey to make your images stand out.
  17. Try to get your fans to post something on your page. For example if you’re running a page about dogs:”Is your dog in the holiday spirit yet? Share your photos with us!”
The frustrating part is that you may try and do all of the above and your fans may love you but it might not matter in the end. You may have to end up paying Facebook to reach those fans regardless.
How do you feel about Facebook organic reach? Are you going to stick with your strategy or mix it up a bit? Have some tips on increasing organic reach? Leave it all in the comments below. :)
Update: A Petition is gaining momentum! Sign it here.

Facebook: Stop the pay to play requirement for Facebook pages to reach their fans and allow users to see all the content from pages they like in their newsfeeds.

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DJ Thistle
D.J. Thistle is a co-founder of SteamFeed, a blog that focuses on the latest trends in social media, technology, and marketing. His passion in technology is only rivaled by his desire to connect with others through social media. He has been a featured speaker multiple times on how to get started in social media at various wine industry events. He has spent the last 9 years teaching in public and private schools in Massachusetts and California. He is happily married and enjoys every moment of raising his beautiful daughter.
DJ Thistle

@djthistle

I'm a husband, father, educator, geek, bookworm, stock market enthusiast, and some would call me an Apple fanboy. Co-Founder of @SteamFeedCom
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Comments

  1. Suzen Pettit says:

    great article DJ and thanks for confirming the really sucky news i've been suspecting for a while now.
    My recent post The Step- by- Step Formula I use to Create Killer Traffic to My Blog Posts

    • Definitely Suzen. I keep hearing about Facebook losing "teens" but if they're not careful they're going to lose another very active group "marketers".

      Thanks for joining our community Suzen! :)

  2. My blog is only 7 mos old and with only 99 Facebook likes and about 25 reach, I’m considering dropping Facebook altogether. I feel FB is guilty of bait and switch with people who have built a business page with them over time. I don’t have time to play their games, nor the money to spend on promo. May put my energies elsewhere. Can I build a blog without Facebook? I guess so if no one is seeing me anyway.

    • Good call Dawn. Depending on your niche I would start spending more time on Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, or LinkedIn or a combination of those.

      Thanks for stopping by! :)

  3. DJ, thanks for putting together this case. With the decreasing organic reach, I'm going to shift my energy towards the other platforms. Its a bummer cos most of my client base/prospects are located in FB. But yeah, definitely agree with the need to balance out the strategy.
    My recent post What’s Your Social Story? Measure Your Influence via Klout, Kred & PeerIndex

  4. Too bad our customers like Facebook so much :-(
    This hurts any small business or organisation reaching their audience but whining doesn't really help us does it? As long as somebody pays for more ads there is really no reason for FB to stop this nonsense.
    Posting more quality content is important – on the other hand the quality usually goes down if people have to produce 4 or more posts a day.

    I observed one thing looking at my clients' web stats though. Traffic from Facebook is actually up! Meaning (I think) people share the blog content on Facebook more. Do you see that at Steamfeed?
    My recent post How to Remove Pesky Fake Followers From Your Twitter Account

    • I hear your frustration Frithjof. We're not seeing a ton of traffic from Facebook. Only about 3-5% of our traffic comes from FB. 6 months ago it was easily double that.

  5. Vatsala Shukla says:

    My workshop participants always accuse me of putting a positive spin on events and I admit, I like to look for something good every time. If one has a clear objective for maintaining a Page on Facebook then it is up to them to decide if they want to invest money each time they post rather than use the same money on their website or blog which is where we want the Facebook Page visitor to visit anyway. Maybe this is a wake-up call for marketers to decide where their priorities should be focused?
    My recent post By: Karmic Ally

    • Exactly Vatsala. Right now email marketing, G+, and Twitter seem like much better options for marketers. I think it's going to be a long and expensive road for people who focus all of their energies solely on Facebook.

  6. DJ,

    Excellent post!

    I agree – We need now approach a strategy that gives other social networks more weight than they had previously.

    I do NOT recommend using the "boost" function per post – It's not a frugal use of dollars spent. Rather, use the Power Editor for ads when done to maximize the effects and results.

    All great suggestions provided above. I would only add that self-employed professionals with "public figure" pages can also accept subscribers at their personal profile. Sharing from page to personal profile can also bring attention to business content. Though there are rules there to abide by as well.

    A year from now, I wonder what we'll be discussing about Facebook…

    ~Keri
    My recent post Social Lists: 7 Secrets Revealed By @Listly For Facebook Marketers

    • Fantastic Keri! Yes, I should have mentioned the Power Editor (something I need to learn more about). With Boost Post being so visible I wonder how many people utilize Power Editor. Maybe a future SteamFeed article for you: "Facebook: Power Editor Vs Boost Post" :)

  7. Our Facebook reach, Likes and Traffic from FB has dropped by over 50-60%. Though we always knew that depending on any one single channel is detrimental to our long term goals, but seeing such a drastic drop is painful.

    This isn’t the same as Google tweaking their Algorithm to drop a bad site from SEO rankings. On Facebook it’s a double penalty.

    • Wow 50-60% is a big drop Sudhir. I would definitely cut your time on Facebook by the same percent until FB shows that they're willing to support marketers better. Good luck!

  8. I noticed a change in September and a change a few weeks ago. As a blogger, there's really no point in me wasting money or time on Facebook. My time is better spent on Google Plus and Pinterest, both of which drive traffic to my site. When you have 125k fans and less than 1k see each post, it's time to move on.
    My recent post bareMinerals READY Eyeshadow 4.0 the Elements Review

    • That's crazy that when you post something on Facebook less than 1% of the people who have chosen to like your page will see that update unless you pay Facebook. The user doesn't even realize this either. They have no idea that they're only get 1/100 updates from you unless they specifically visit your page. G+ is looking more and more attractive these days.

      Thanks for stopping by Phyrra. :)

  9. We'd share this on our Facebook page but nobody would see it anyways…

    In all seriousness though, definitely an issue we're concerned about. Thank you for gathering all of this information.
    My recent post Pinterest Etiquette: 12 Pointers for Proper Pinning

  10. "We'd share this on our Facebook page but nobody would see it anyways… " <— Haha. Awesome.

    Thanks for stopping by. :)

  11. Just goes to show how important a website/blog and email list are, huh? I like being in control and disappointed in the recent changes. For small businesses, Facebook is making it tough. I still think Twitter is the best channel for small biz and this just makes my point a little bit stronger.

    I know some marketers are saying, "I am going to Google+ because of this". Too bad the eyes and ears are on Facebook, for now at least.

    • Good points Adam. I completely agree with you on small businesses using Twitter. They have more opportunities since it's a lot more open than Facebook to reach people.

      And to the point about Google+, I expect Google+ to be huge in 2014. The hardest part is getting people to make that switch.

      Change is difficult for a lot of people.

  12. Adam, Thanks for taking the time to comment. A website/blog is a must. It's a property that you own unlike all the other social media channels that people have accounts on. And yes, building your email list is hugely important and should be a major focus for all small businesses.

  13. Soonwook Kweon says:

    It is very informative and also comforting to read article and comments sine this is also my greatest headache and to see people in same pain. With widening social platform to google+, twitter etc, don’t you think similar happens with their recent IPO ? Should it be a better option to forget about earned media value out of picture and start looking SNS as just one of paid media? Surely, i still have no clue when I look at frustrated client face what to do with fans with great amount of investment in many years to obtain.

    Thanks,
    Soonwook

  14. I have pretty much ignored my FB page for a while on one of my websites, posting a couple of times a week, and never set one up for the website I'm focusing most of my energy on now. I still get a lot of Facebook traffic, but it comes from me posting to groups and my profile.

    I also get a lot of Pinterest traffic. Years ago I had tons of twitter traffic but no one really seems to click links there anymore. And I've never gotten much engagement on G+ either. Guess Ill keep working my FB profile and Pinterest for now.
    My recent post The Best FREE Way for Real Estate Agents and Small Businesses to Manage Contacts

  15. as someone mentioned above, this confirmed the decline we've been seeing as well. We tried to build the page and increase our followers and it's now to no avail. What's frustrating is that brands that want to work with bloggers like us do look at FB stats (so we can't just drop it, although that would be much easier). I don't see the point of FB anymore except say you have certain followers, but no reach.

  16. That was a poor move on Facebooks part. Now that my new likes have gone from 2000+ a day to perhaps 30 and my views have fallen off sharply, they've solidified my decision to move my 270,000 fans to Google+.

    They should have sold ads like everyone else. Too bad, it looks like My Space will have company in the dumpster of failed Social Media sites in the not too distant future.

  17. Great article, I run a Naturist news page promoting non sexual nudity (censoring any pictures of course) which has just passed the 1000 likes mark after only been up for 12 months, but I still find it a struggle to get people to like my page in the first place due to the stigma attached to Nudism… ie: when you like the page everyone see's that you like a Nudey page…

    I have found that pictures attract more likes eg jokes & meme's, I posted a eecard meme which had a large man saying "I lay in my backyard naked each day waiting for Google Earth camera's to film me" and it went viral with about 4000 views, 200 likes & about 50 shares.

    I have done paid advertisements on FB in the past by promoting posts & targeting friends of people who like the page which has resulted in likes dropping due to the stigma mentioned above, I have also done paid targeting of people with Nudism, Naturist, Nudist in their profiles which was much more spectacular & brought in more likes of the page as well as comments.

    I promoted a nude swim event in Sydney Harbour back in February called the Sydney Skinny & my promoted event overtook the official page to the point they thought I was the promoter LOL

    At the swim I met the promoter himself & he gave me a big handshake to thank me for assisting with the promotion of the event & was not upset that I stole his thunder ;)

    Michael Connolly http://www.facebook.com/australiannaturistnews/

  18. I appreciate the incoming link about Facebook posts with Previews. Across the board, our clients have found that they get much lower reach on posts with links that include Previews. What seems to help the most for organic reach is posting multiple times each day (at least 4). Yet the days of free advertising on Facebook seem, sadly, to be over. It's all about Pay to Play these days, and Facebook ads are the way to go to get any visibility on Facebook.

  19. For companies with low or no budgets. Any recommendations on tips on how to get the most out of organic reach for post ? I know content and timing is everything.

  20. Thanks for the post. It's really informative.

    My page reach used to be in thousands, then dropped to hundreds, and now in two figures. No matter, how good the content is, it won't touch three figures and get me a maximum of 2-5 likes. I think Facebook has lost the plot and sooner or later, they are going to pay the real price. I'm going to focus more on Google+, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Twitter, etc.
    My recent post Review of The Agile Prepcast (for PMI-ACP Certification Exam)

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