By now, any brand with a Facebook page knows that organic reach is dying a horrible death. As Facebook pushes to monetize the platform, more and more brands will feel the pinch of being unable to reach the very same fans they spent so much time accruing in the first place. It's shady, but it's a pretty smart business move for a publicly floated company like Facebook.
But then again... is it smart? Sure, limiting the organic reach of brands is a lucrative way to make them spend money consistently on the platform. We can't overlook, however, the affect it has had on the user experience on the site. An individual's Facebook News Feed no longer consists of content from friends and pages that they like. Now, Facebook's Newsfeed algorithm has about 100K weight factors that determine whether or not your post will show up in your fan's feed. And while lack of access is a great way to make brands pay to be seen, what does it say for the quality of an individual's Newsfeed? The platform's refusal to let users see what they want to see, when they want to see it has contributed to killing Facebook's cool factor.
Speaking of cool factor... Brands should be paying attention to the fact that, as organic reach of liked pages began to decline on Facebook in 2012, so did the number of teens using the platform. Studies indicate that Facebook is still the most popular platform among teens, with 71% of all American teens supposedly still using the site (despite half of them also using Instagram and four-in-ten using Snapchat.) But the fact that teens are diversifying their social network use should be a concern for Facebook, because it would appear that, in their efforts to optimize profit, they are neglecting to optimize the user experience of the site in a way that keeps young people engaged. Let's just be honest... Teens might still have Facebook accounts, but Facebook is not the platform they're using to socialize. So not only are brands forced to pay for reach, but it's becoming increasingly unlikely that even your paid posts will reach the teen demographic.
So if News Feed sucks and it's tough to reach teens, if Facebook Likes are no longer a valuable form of social currency because engagement is far more important, then how are brands supposed to navigate the hot mess that is Facebook?
Think of Facebook as a zombie. It's not quite dead, but not quite alive and vibrant either. It merely exists, consuming, with no concerns except it's own survival. It is a mindless, slow moving, nearly invulnerable monster that permeates mainstream culture for reasons we can't explain... Brands would be well within their rights to choose to run for their lives. However, the more affective approach would be to do what Michone did on The Walking Dead, to cut the arms off that zombie, throw a leash on it, and figure out how to survive.
Is it possible to have at least moderate reach on Facebook without breaking the bank? The answer is yes... but only if you set out to create compelling content. It's that simple. If you are getting more comments and shares when you post images, create more images. If your fans are responding strongly to videos, create and post more video content. Videos and images have been shown to have much better organic reach and engagement. And when it comes to videos, be sure to upload them directly to Facebook so that they will auto-play in a fan's feed, increasing the likelihood of engagement. Facebook's algorithm is looking at the interactions your content gets, so instead of posting just to maintain a social presence, focus on quality instead of quantity. Mediocre content isn't acceptable anymore, so focus on making your content informative, humorous, or relatable. All of this translates to your content being more sharable. By studying your Page Insights on Facebook, you can determine which content is getting the most organic engagement on your page. Do more of what works.
The Facebook we used to know and love is dead and gone, leaving behind the functional but otherwise hallow zombie we're currently reckoning with now. But much i the same way the zombie apocalypse brought out strength and courage in the characters on The Walking Dead, Facebook's Reachpocalypse can force brands to become better and more effective online marketers, which will not only result in more organic reach of your current fans, but access to new fans, too.
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