“Facebook is purposely reducing organic (free) reach to force users to advertise” – Massimo Chieruzzi

So you own a Facebook Page and feel a bit fed up of the tiny reach you seem to get with every post you make even though you have thousands of followers.  You ask yourself why are my posts only reaching so few people? Welcome to the battle for organic reach on Facebook – a digital marketers nightmare.

For years I have ran multiple Facebook Pages some with a lot of followers and have tried every technique and process you can think of to get the best reach possible from my posts. But even with the successful posts and the effort put in to get greater numbers of reach, the end result, the return on investment, in reality, is still really low. Let me explain what I mean…

Facebook Pages 2016 - The Battle for Reach by Steven James

If you choose not to pay for Facebook Ads or to not boost your posts, you are in for a long battle. Maybe numerous battles in an ever-lasting war with Facebook’s organic filter – the news feed algorithm.  In the diagram above, this battle is shown in the top half, above the thick grey line.  Already it is looking like a long-winded, drawn out battle compared to the flow of the ‘paid’ bottom half in the diagram.  Like I said at the beginning, Facebook is reducing free reach on purpose to enforce paid advertisement. At the end of the day, Facebook is a business and requires some form of monetisation especially for the publicly listed investors, so it makes sense on their behalf.

VICIOUS CIRCLE

If you do want to try Facebook Ads then you NEED a Facebook Page as this is where you advertise from.  You can’t run Facebook Ads from anywhere else on Facebook. But beware, remember to track your real conversions or revenue (if you sell products) as a result from Facebook Ads. Otherwise it could end up just being another vicious circle without any rewarding ROI.

For example, if you are promoting an item for sale you would hope to see some sales/conversions for your paid advertisement. But what you might find is people on Facebook just aren’t ready to buy or commit yet. They are just there to mingle with friends online. That paid investment could be worthless.

Their entire advertising ploy is nothing more than a giant scam. First, Facebook will tell page administrators to pay for ads to “increase your reach.”  Sounds logical enough, right?  Sure.  But there’s just one problem – what’s the point of having more “Likes” if Facebook continues to limit who sees what’s posted on any particular page?

For example, lets say you have 20,000 followers but your organic posts only reach an average of 5%. Thats only 1,000 of your followers you reach. Then you work tiressly on improving that reach and manage 10%. Sounds successful right? But in reality you are still missing out on a further 18,000 followers who WANT to see what you have to offer! After all they have committed to actually liking your page.

THE EFFORT FOR ORGANIC REACH

This battle is the biggest frustration a digital marketer can get involved with. Alongside SEO and the other battle for organic ranking on Google, Facebook Page reach is controlled by the ever changing Facebook News Feed Algorithm (previously EdgeRank).  Recently, Facebook have implemented a massive change in this algorithm resulting in further reduction of organic reach from a Page post in favour of Friends status updates or their shared posts.

So how is the News Feed Algorithm beaten? Well it isn’t unless you pay for ads. But it can be fought against using many found tactics, processes and techniques that are constantly having to be improved upon as Facebook moves the goalposts.

Firstly you have to take into account the type of post you are going to share, as certain types rank higher than others. For example, Facebook Live streams are currently the big thing for Facebook which will instantly get you priority reach (for now).  Then if you write any text or headings you need to consider what words you are using so the post is not considered click bait and instantly removed or pushed to the bottom of the ranking pile. Another signal is the response rate for your messaging through the Page to your customers enquiring. The faster your response rate the better the ranking your posts will be in Facebook News Feed.

If you get past those big hurdles you will still probably only ever reach up to 10% of your pages followers to which you then have to hope upon they engage with the post. Like, Share or Commenting will result in positive reach, but not a huge jump. Like opening a tap up and allowing more through the filter but never fully opened. There are a lot more factors that contribute to the ranking in the news feed algorithm, some that are yet to be confirmed and discovered.

Of course even if you get beyond this next hurdle the reach you get might not be to the people you want to target (friends/family of the followers on your page who do not follow your page and probably do not have any interest in your page), making it a totally and utterly pointless exercise for all that effort.

ARE FACEBOOK PAGES DEAD?

avgFacebookReach

The average organic reach found on Facebook for Pages is around 6% if you are lucky. So if we are only reaching 6%, then what is the point in using Facebook Pages, are they dead now?  Maybe, but you still NEED a Facebook Page even if you just want to concentrate on paid advertisements.

If you don’t want to pay for ads then Facebook Pages still aren’t dead, and the reason is your reputation as a brand or business requires that follower count. Customers today (you probably do it yourself) check a business’ Facebook Page to see how many followers or ‘Likes’ they have to give them a sense of confidence and how popular they are as a business. The Facebook Page follower count is simply a vanity number, but a necessity nonetheless.

Facebook Pages certainly aren’t dead, currently I would not recommend spending a lot of time and effort on a Facebook Page, just use it as a minor brand awareness tool. You simply need to increase your follower number to a level that is accepted as reputable or popular then maybe focus more of your efforts elsewhere to get a better ROI.

From experience since running many Facebook Pages over several years and seeing the many algorithm updates and changes, Nobody can disagree with the following list of negative aspects of Facebook for marketing…

  • Facebook takes traffic away from your business website.
  • Facebook’s ecommerce platform draws major revenue from your ecommerce efforts.
  • Facebook requires too much time to manage.
  • Facebook requires that you cater to your audience, rather than allowing you to ‘shape’ your audience.
  • Facebook possesses too much control over content and marketing.
  • Using Facebook for marketing is like trying to build a business on “rented land.”
  • Facebook connects your business with people you don’t actually want to market to
  • Facebook fan numbers are misleading.
  • Facebook fans actually consisted of fake profiles.
  • Facebook fans are worthless.
  • Junk Facebook fans actually damage your brand.
  • Facebook is constantly changing its approach and algorithm, meaning that there is no single best way to engage.
  • Facebook delivers a form of information that is not useful for your audience or customers.
  • Facebook limits the amount of genuine interaction that your audience can have with you.
  • Facebook fans consist of people who actually aren’t customers anyway.
  • Facebook creates negative brand images from people indiscriminately posting negative comments on the company page.
  • Facebook has too many extraneous ads, distracting from the brand’s presence on Facebook.
  • Less is more in marketing. Fewer social platforms means stronger presence where it matters.
  • There isn’t enough actionable data to assess Facebook’s ROI.
  • Facebook does not allow for an integrated marketing effort.
  • Facebook is deceptive.
  • Facebook punishes organic posts and non-paid content.
  • Most people are trained to ignore sponsored posts on Facebook; they automatically tune out marketing efforts.

 

“Experts caution marketers not to become too jubilant. Brands are shooting at a moving target when attempting to market through Facebook and its ever-changing algorithm. Don’t be surprised if Facebook changes the rules again, possibly in its favor.”

 

THE SOLUTION

There are so many negative aspects when marketing on Facebook. Just because Facebook has billions of users you can target, doesn’t mean that concentrating most of your online marketing efforts on Facebook is the way forward. As you have read above there are so many hurdles to overcome. Keep your eye on the real statistics, your website conversions, your real business goals and the defined ROI, as there are other tools available online that may get you better REAL results.

Develop a Social Media Strategy with your digital marketer, this may consist of initially increasing your page likes (the vanity number) to help give your business visibility on Facebook and customer confidence. Then maybe focusing on sharing (and boosting maybe?) high quality and most importantly ‘informative’ content, compared to just posting regular promos or salesy updates organically which usually result in nothing.

Marketing on Facebook just seems like a war you aren’t going to win, even if you do pay for advertisements, because it takes too much time, effort and finance to actually gain a tiny slice of REAL success towards your overall business goals away from Facebook. But it’s still a war you need to be part of – just not on the frontline.