The news and reports about Facebook’s organic traffic drop are true. Over the past 12 months, Facebook has been slowly turning down the organic reach of posts from business pages in their fans’ New Feeds. While this publicly acknowledged move from Facebook has marketers and business up in arms, I’m here to tell you that this is actually a good thing.
Why is Facebook Doing This?
Whenever you post to Facebook, either from your personal account or from a business page, you are fighting to get that post seen in the News Feed of your friends or fans. Facebook has had success with its algorithm over the years to help determine what the best content to show a user and they’ll continue to refine this as time goes by. However, as their business now serves over a billion users, they’re faced with new challenges. On any given day, when someone visits Facebook, there are on average 1,500 posts that they could be shown and Facebook gets that number down to 300.
Simply put, Facebook’s problem is that they have a surplus of content and a lack of space. Over time, people continue to add more friends and like brands and business pages, thus taking up more News Feed real estate. Therein lies the problem: people cannot keep increasing the amount of time they read their News Feed each day. That’s a lot of content! This is why Facebook decided to start turning down the number of times a post from a business page gets included in the 300 post count.
Give Me the Bad News First
On Facebook, your organic post reach is the number of people who see a post in relation to the number of people who have liked your business page. So if you have 200 likes on your business page and your posts get seen by 30 people each time, then your organic reach is 15%. Two separate companies that analyze social media traffic and trends on Facebook did independent analyses of organic post reach per fan and found that it is in fact going down. EdgeRank Checker analyzed 1,000 Facebook Business Pages of all sizes from February 2012 – March 2014. Their results showed that organic post reach went from 16% down to 6.51%, a decrease of 59% in just over two years.
Social Oglivy also did a similar study on organic reach from October 2013 to February 2014. They saw almost identical drops in organic reach: 12.05% down to 6.15%.
Now for the Good News
You have to remember that Facebook is still a business offering a massive product for free to users and businesses. Unfortunately, that free ride had to end eventually. The numbers support this too.This is actually a good thing for both businesses and users. Here are the 6 reasons why Facebook’s organic traffic drop isn’t all that bad afterall.
1) Helps Keep Facebook Users Coming Back
You’ve got to remember that Facebook came first as a free network for people to socialize with their friends. The only reason that Facebook is a great place for businesses to have a presence on is because of the number of users it has. If they showed every single one of those 1,500 posts to every user, every day, it would paralyze most News Feeds with content overload. Not only that, it would make for an irrelevant user experience.
Cutting down on the number of posts users see in their New Feeds from businesses helps preserve the enjoyment factor of the network. Without happy users continuing to return daily, there’s no reason for business to have a presence there.
2) Facebook is Now Like Having a Website in the Late 90’s
Remember back in the late 90’s and early 2000’s when websites moved from being a nice to have thing for your business to being an almost expected presence? That’s what Facebook business pages are to businesses today.
No matter what industry you’re in, a Facebook business page is now expected to be part of your business identity. Facebook is a familiar forum for discussion between you and your clients, and it gives your business a chance to feel more human and approachable. People still like to check-in to places they visit, tag businesses in posts and comments, and also be able to reach out to you where they’re comfortable. Your presence is expected.
3) Improved User Experience
Remember those awful email chains back in the day? A lot of posts from businesses that are clogging up News Feeds worldwide are head-shakingly reminiscent of bad email forward chains of yesteryears. You have probably seen posts like this before:
Facebook is taking a strong stand on this process known as “like-baiting” to help keep the News Feed from looking like the junk folder of bad email forwards. Moves like this pair nicely with the reduction of organic post traffic because it improve and strengthen the user experience on the network.
4) Better Opportunity to Reach Audiences
Facebook is still free to users and businesses, but in order to get into the News Feed guaranteed, you’ll have the choice to pay to promote. Below is an example of this from our own business page. We spent $30 to promote a new video we made to the fans of our page and their friends. At the time, we had roughly 1,200 Facebook fans and that $30 got our post in front of over 3,300 people.
This is very good news for business pages. Previously, when you would post things to your business page, it was random who might end up seeing that post in their News Feed. The News Feed just became valuable again. With Promoted Posts, you can target very specific audiences with incredible ease. It’s an inexpensive and effective way to guarantee that a post you make will get into the News Feed of the people you care about most.
5) Facebook Favors Small and Medium Sized Businesses
The studies above from EdgeRank Checker and Social Ogilvy both point out something interesting. The recent updates to their News Feed algorithm clearly show that business pages that have less than 25,000 likes get a lot more News Feed coverage than the big players do.
With these trends going in this direction, the News Feed playing field will give small and medium size businesses a great opportunity to play on the same field as their larger competitors.
6) Still Incredibly Effective Channel
Even with all the decrease in organic post reach and potentially having to pay for post exposure, remember that Facebook is still incredibly popular. Currently, users are spending 8.3 hours/month on Facebook. That is a ton of guaranteed traffic to the site. Whether you’re naturally gifted with social DNA that makes your page more viral than others or you choose to take a more targeted approach and pay to promote, rest assured that the audiences are there.
While Facebook turning down the organic reach of posts from business pages is still not the greatest news, it’s all a matter of how you look at it. If Facebook wants to continue to be a thriving network for the global population, it has to make tough decisions like this. That’s why it’s crucial to stay on top of the Facebook marketing trends that can impact your business and figure out a way to make them work in your favor.
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