Facebook ended 2013 with an irritating bang – the platform drastically changed how brand content is distributed in the news feed and it didn’t go unnoticed. Some clients have come to us and asked why suddenly the reach on their brand page was dropping rapidly. Here’s the answer: The once preferred social platform for free advertising now wants you to pay to be seen in your fans news feed .
So what does this mean exactly? It’s not like Facebook has just introduced ads, they’ve been around for a while now. What’s changed is that they now try to differentiate between what they call high-quality news content and low-quality content such as memes in order to add value to the posts which appear in news feeds. Facebook claims that they have noticed an increasing interest in news content among their users and that people prefer this type of posts over the latest meme. Facebook also states users are sharing more content than ever, which is why competition around space for news feed stories is increasing. Therefore, they had to prioritise and brand page content has been pushed down in the priority list. That is of course, unless you pay for a better positioning.
Before the December change, it was possible to achieve pretty good reach without paid advertisement. All it took was some good content and if your fans liked what they saw there was a chance for it to go viral. Now Facebook is taking this chance away by lowering the exposure of your post in the first place. And that means a majority of your fans won’t even see the post when it goes up, missing out on the opportunity to like, comment or share. According to a recent analysis, a brand page now averages about 2.5% reach. That’s not even 3 out of 100 fans. Understandably, a lot of companies are upset that they can’t even reach the fan base they have worked so hard (and paid) for anymore. Basically FB are cannibalising their own advertising revenue by asking you to pay for acquisition and reach.
It is justified to ask whether it is still worth to even bother producing content for this kind of reach. We say, yes it is. Let’s have a look at what Facebook has to say in regards of content production. In August 2013 Varun Kacholia wrote in the Facebook business blog that certain factors such as “…how frequently content from a certain Page is reported as low quality (e.g., hiding a Page post), how complete the Page profile is, and whether the fan base for a particular Page overlaps with the fan base of other known high quality Pages…” play a role in determining whether your content is high or low quality. This shows that good content stays good content, and even though paying for some reach will become inevitable in the near future your efforts are not thrown out the window as suggested in many articles. For example, we had a really nice quote post on one of our smaller brand pages in the beginning of February. The page has 884 fans but because many fans related to the quote it was shared, we saw an organic reach of 4,482 without any ad spend. This shows that it still is possible to get great reach through quality targeted content.
However, the new Facebook changes will affect pages with a very small fan base trying to grow. If you’re just starting up a brand page it will be hard to engage the 7 out of your 100 fans who see the post. Here, paying initially for some page like ads will become unavoidable if you don’t want your page to become stagnant.
Overall, we wouldn’t recommend throwing all your Facebook efforts into the bin. But you might have to rethink budget allocations and your content strategy in order to achieve better post results. Quality has to become more important than quantity, much like modern SEO and if you want a place in your fans news feed you need to carefully plan your content.