‘Chilling’ News For Brands On Facebook

    December 15, 2013
    Chris Crum
    Comments are off for this post.

Facebook recently launched an update to its News Feed algorithm aimed at promoting higher quality content. It’s being billed as Facebook’s version of the Google Panda update, mostly because that was also aimed at promoting higher quality content, and also has the ability to hurt businesses by eliminating their visibility.

Have you been affected by Facebook’s update? Let us know in the comments.

So far, it looks like brands are suffering pretty hard from the update. Ignite Social Media has put out a report after analyzing 689 posts across 21 brand pages of a variety of sizes and industries, finding that since December 1st, organic reach and organic reach percentage have each declined by 44% on average. Some, it says, have seen declines of up to 88%. One page out of the bunch saw an increase (5.6%).

“As reach declined, the raw number of engaged users plunged as well, falling on average by 35%,” writes Jim Tobin on the Ignite blog. “Some pages saw engaged users fall as much as 76%. Only one page in the data set had an increase in the number of engaged users, coming in at 0.7%.”

“Facebook once said that brand posts reach approximately 16% of their fans,” he writes. “That number is no longer achievable for many brands, and our analysis shows that roughly 2.5% is now more likely for standard posts on large pages. So, a year ago a brand could expect to reach 16 out of 100 fans and now that brand is lucky if they get 3 out of 100. Chilling news for brand pages who have invested resources to ‘build’ a large following of fans.”

In the past, plenty of brands (and plenty of users, for that matter) have complained about Facebook not showing their posts to all of their fans, let alone more than 3%. After all, doesn’t one “like” a page because they want to see updates from that page? Isn’t that the whole point?

A lot of people have wanted Facebook to give them a “pure” News Feed, giving them all updates from friends and pages they like. The closest thing resembling that – the ticker – isn’t even in the “new” News Feed design, though it turns out that might not be fully rolling out anyway.

As the Ignite report points out, research from Forrester and Wildfire shows that engaged customers are most likely to purchase and recommend brands, and engagement is falling because of the new update. Chilling indeed.

Nicholas Carlson at Business Insider suggests that the Facebook change has “screwed an entire profession”. He’s talking, of course, about social media marketers or “an industry of people who run Facebook pages for big brands.”

Facebook seems to be going for the “pay to play” approach. Imagine if Google tried that in its general web search (they already are in Google Shopping). The News Feed isn’t search, so it may seem like apples and oranges, but like Google search, the Facebook News Feed is one of the biggest gateways to content discovery on the Internet. This is a big deal. Plus, Facebook does have Graph Search, which recently introduced status updates and other posts in results, though it’s been a slow roll-out. You have to wonder if the News Feed update will affect rankings here.

AdAge reported last week that many would see their organic reach drop off, and that Facebook is acknowledging it with a sales deck that was sent out to partners, which said, “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.”

There you have it.

Interestingly this all comes after Facebook was telling publishers that upping their post frequency increases referral traffic. In October, Facebook said that with a group of media sites it tested, referral traffic grew by over 80% when they posted more frequently. There were 29 partner media sites, and one of them was BuzzFeed. All Things D reports that Vice President of Product Chris Cox, one of the main guys behind the changes, “especially has a problem with BuzzFeed and sites similar to it”. The report cites multiple sources on that.

We have no idea if BuzzFeed is actually suffering from the changes, though the site did run an article saying that publishers are nervous about the changes. Here’s a snippet from that:

“We’re starting to get very nervous,” one staffer at a major paper told BuzzFeed. “It’s scary that they can get everyone hooked on such high referral traffic then take it away so quickly with a quick flip of their algorithm.”

What’s disturbing is that right now, the changes are mainly based on source rather than content itself. Facebook News Feed manager Lars Backstrom gave an interview to All Things D last week, and said as much. He said Facebook will start “distinguishing more and more” between different types of content as it refines its approaches, so it might not all be based upon source in the future, but for now, it’s all about the source.

It just so happens that BuzzFeed is a prime example of why this strategy is no good. Sure, BuzzFeed has many articles along the lines of “15 Signs You’re Eating Dinner,” but they also have real, in-depth articles. Good content is good content regardless of where it appears, and to penalize an entire site – the good and the bad – based on the bad, seems detrimental to the whole point of the changes. It would be like penalizing all YouTube content because there are a lot of shitty videos on YouTube.

Why do you think Google has authorship? Facebook sure doesn’t know anything about the actual people putting out the content do they?

Do you think Facebook’s News Feed changes will benefit the user experience? Can brands overcome the apparent blow? Tell us what you think.

  • Paul Walker

    Everybody knew stuff like this was going to happen once Facebook went public. Facebook it’s on its way out. Teens are leaving them in droves. I don’t even visit that thing anymore. Privacy nightmare. Facebook will be Myspace soon. A kid from some university’s dormitory will create the next big thing again.

  • Lucifer

    Hail satan, and FUCK facebook.

  • a

    all good things must come to an end somehow…wake up college kids!!!

  • http://KellyTwardzik Kelly Twardzik

    The news I get on Facebook such as from Brandon walker and other like minded individuals and groups communicating with these people learning with them and from them, the opportunities to help homeless animals, the only thing I’ve purchased on the i on the inter net so far is from the greater goods store i sure hope they don’t change Facebook

  • Andrew Jones

    I have a huge Facebook page, 3 million users and it did have over 500,000 users “talking about this” > up until about 2 weeks ago.

    I post a selection of content from my page and it would always get a decent reach. Links to quality articles (some of which have had over 2 million shares for individual articles) did use to get at least 70,000 impressions.

    Since the update, I am lucky to see 4000 impressions. From 3 million fans… WTF Facebook? How can they justify this kind of BS?

  • Joan Edington

    This will certainly be detrimental to me but not for any commercial reasons. I am an average punter, reading articles I am interested in and communicationg with friends. One of my favourites on Facebook is one that posts old photographs of the city I was brought up in, asking for memories from fans. It is not commercial in any way, nothing is paid for, it is simply a couple of guys sharing their interest with other people. They have experienced exactly the same drops in reach as the online retailers etc. They can’t afford to pay £250 for each photo posted and why should they? How can a “social” network possibly say this is for the good of myself and others, who look forward to seeing these photos and chatting about them?

  • http://www.walksandwalking.com Walks And Walking


  • Gregg

    I had not heard abiut this latest update and wondered why my reach was almost NONE. What a joke!!! We never got anything out of FB for our business. Not even when we had a person setting up posts to run several times a day. They spent hiurs every day in FB posts and making sure the pics were clean and looked great along with the right content. We stopped for quite a while and focused on marketing that was bringing in the sales. Now we have a tool that makes it easier to do a quick lost, but why when no even has the chance of seeing it??? More waste of time and for nothing! Bye bye FB… Say hello to myspace. :-)

    • Gregg

      a quick “post” not lost.

  • George

    1 week of using Facebook checked once an hour
    1st month twice a day
    1st six months once a day
    1st year every other day
    2nd year once a day
    Currently, once very six weeks and respond to one or two friends.

    I’m sure I’m not alone.

  • http://vkool.com/local-mobile-marketing-with-mobile-monopoly/ Hang Pham

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  • Jackie Mackay

    The Google search engine and Facebook etc (social media in general) were intended for human beings who USE the web in the course of living their lives.. It’s these people who matter. It’s these people to whom the brands want to advertise. Why? Because these people WORK to get money.

    Blinded by the greed of mass numbers, the brands climbed aboard as many people as they could – to advertise to for cheap- and became parasites on the back of both Google and Facebook.

    Has it never occurred to the advertisers that you can over do something? It seems that these conceited and often deceitful people imagine that everybody thinks they’re great because they’ve got more money than the people they are advertising to.

    The parasites aren’t very bright. They fail to understand that the financial system and the failure of money generally is on the horizon like a tsunami. You don’t have to take a course in analysis in order to predict what happens when there is NO MONEY. Someone may be kind enough to tell the analysts that the figures aren’t going to be helped by an algorithm. They are apparently too naive to be able to work it out for themselves.

    Brands are not people. Corporations are not people they are devoid of life because the people working for them are not in fact inherently slaves. The days are gone when brands and corporations can act as though they were people. When they work out for themselves that people can get tired of having something pushed in their face incessantly then they will also find out that they may have to give something back for the nuisance of constantly hammering at the door, the phone,, the screen, and anywhere they can put themselves to be NOTICED.

    The party is over. The glamour has gone. To quote the Beatles “Love has a funny habit of disappearing overnight”.

    Times have changed. You advertisers and marketers haven’t got a free run any more. Do you find that ‘chilling’? work out what you can do to give value and interest back to the people you’ve been corralling into one herd or another for utter peanuts.

    Also let’s face it lists gatherers and people who send incessant email to extensive lists have also got to learn this same lesson. Spam isn’t going to work at all soon, Furthermore spammers are parasites and there are a large number of people busily working out how to get rid of this particular tapeworm.

    If you’re starting to wonder if you’re a parasite or not here’s how to work it out. If you take, take, take, and never give anything back then you are feeding off the toil of others. THAT’S being a parasite. That practice has a short life.

    Jackie Mackay

  • http://bamajr.com Bamajr

    There is nearly zero benefit to having a brand page on Facebook, unless you’re willing to continually pay Facebook, for visibility, which I’m not. And, as soon as the general users start realizing Facebook wants/needs them to be part of Facebook, for their advertising model to work, Facebook will go the way of MySpace. People will start jumping ship, as fast as they can. It isn’t worth building an audience, when only 2.5% of my audience will see what I post, if I refuse to pay Facebook for advertising. This is where Google Plus and Twitter, actually provide their users and pages/brands a value – people will see what you post.

    Want a better social network? Try App.net – way better than Facebook.

    • jaws4316

      Paying Facebook for advertising is a waste. They don’t allow you to pay other people to buy more likes, because they say that all those likes come from “click farms” in Asia, but guess what? If you pay Facebook for more likes, the likes they get you come from “click farms” in Asia. Can you spell “Hypocrisy” boys and girls?

      • http://bamajr.com/ bamajr

        Oh, that was a rhetorical question 😉 Sorry, I had to!

        • jaws4316

          Good one :-) LMAO

  • http://ifc-mahavidya.org/ Shri Param Eswaran

    When considering quality content who in FB or Google know it. Both rank porn sites who post under the name Tantra over real traditional Tantra sites. Is FB and Google really interested in quality content, should they not know what is quality.

  • http://career.com.ng/federal-ministry-of-youth-development-job-recruitment/ Darlington

    I have a small amount of fans but they are dedicated to my page because of the content i provide them. Recently i notice that it’s few percentage of my fan that were seeing my content. So i decided to start paying for my post to be able to get to them. I think that’s what fb want because they want brands to start paying for their post. I believe for anyone to like your page, it’s obvious they have interest in the content you are providing. If the person feel you content is not good enough they can unlike your page.

  • http://www.occds.org Geoffrey

    Mark Zuckerberg and Bilderberg are synonymous; in such a situation the direction of Facebook will be determined by Bilderbeg. There is no discussion and nothing that can be said or done to point this ludicrous ‘International’ and obscenely rich THING in the correct direction.

    If you are unaware of Bilderberg, investigate, as much as is permitted, and for the sake of mankind someone found an organisation whose goal is to destroy the Bilderberg Group. Their prime objective today is to reduce world population, maybe you and your family will be unfortunate.

    Spend less time on Facebook on on your mobile telephones and tablets and do something constructive to justify your existence, Bilderberg needs to be dealt with.

    All the leading politicians, bankers, industrialist and thinkers of the world are secretive members of Bilderberg and they are sworn not to divulge their agenda that of ‘World Control’

    It is sinister and you probably don’t believe it but that is the situation and it is never reported in the media because all media bosses are members and are sworn to the same code of secrecy.

  • http://www.backwaterstudio.com Kathleen Johnson

    I made the supreme mistake of Promoting a Post after this change was implemented.


    With 800 Fans and 4,000 friends, I do get a fair response, without promotion from my posts. Or, rather “used to”.

    The promoted post asked for people to “Like” and/or leave a comment so I could gauge the response in some way outside the Facebook analytics – which I have little faith in.

    Two of my closest friends left a “Like” on the paid promoted post, there was ZERO feedback from anyone else, and absolutely no click through to my website.

    Then, to top that, Facebook sent an email to say the results to my Promoted post were in. When you click on the link – the post showed “Zero Response”.

    So, I went to the Facebook help pages and filed a formal complaint.
    To that, there has been, also, Zero, response excepting an email saying there is “an answer” but, it is not showing on the page.

    So, I filed a complaint, on the same help pages, that I am getting an email stating there is an answer – and it sent me to a page, containing pages, of people filing the same complaint.

    I followed up my initial report to Facebook with a PayPal dispute filed over the failure of the add to land in my friends Timeles under “not as advertized”. To that, I have not received a response.

    Not only are the posts on our Pages being throttled – the last post I “reached” 5 people out of 800. I am beginning to suspect that posts, with links, are also being throttled on our Personal Pages. Has anyone else noticed this? When ever I post a post, with a link, there is a Facebook Bot that immediately “visits” my website.

    It is impossible to do business with someone that provides zero access to Customer Support and there is zero transparency in their business practices.

  • http://Wredlich.com Warren Redlich

    “BuzzFeed is a prime example of why this strategy is no good. Sure, BuzzFeed has many articles along the lines of “15 Signs You’re Eating Dinner,” but they also have real, in-depth articles. Good content is good content regardless of where it appears, and to penalize an entire site – the good and the bad – based on the bad, seems detrimental to the whole point of the changes. ”

    For those of us who stick to good content, this is not troubling at all.

  • Nunna Urbiznz

    I have steadily built several brands, some since ’09.

    Currently over 1.2 million Fans which they now call’Likes’ on an aggregated basis.

    When we first started spending money for Facebook acquisition of Fans, we assumed there would be intelligence, logic and good intentions. In order to succeed, we didn’t require all three, just 1.

    Facebook has jammed several major alterations that has stripped away any good faith. Working with Facebook is like building a bridge with your sworn enemy. How can I create a community or brand if they keep changing rules. They’ve finally figured out that in order for them to succeed as a public company, they need to suckle the corporate advertising teat. It was at THAT moment that Facebook became infected. The infection acts a repellent. Think: AOL 15 years ago. The infection is spreading and Instagram should spin away from Facebook before the infection seeps through the umbilical cord.

  • http://www.banksconsultancy.com.au Jeff Banks

    We have been victims of the the “overnight” changes to the Facebook algorithms. One week we are getting 80 – 120 views to our video offerings which are information based (obviously with an advertising slant) then all of a sudden we are getting less than 20!!

    It does not seem fair but they have the platform and they make the rules and unless you are paying them they don’t want to know.

    • Dave

      No it’s not fair, but then again what Google is doing to small business isn’t what i’d call fair either. The web is changing & changing FAST. If you have something to sell then they will want paying to help you do that 100% soon. Google Shopping is now utter shit, full of eBay listings. Organic search is dead so many moved over to social media to get the traffic. So now the biggest player in the social media game comes up with their version of Panda?! Get ready for a very rough ride people & good luck. You are going to need it.

  • Keith

    Yeah as noted above it kinda defeats the purpose of spending money to get likes to your page if only a small number of your subscribers will ever see your post. What’s the point in spending money to reach subscribers who will not have a chance to see your post. If I like a page the reason I took time to like it is that I am interested in the content that they post!!

  • Raymond

    Personally my facebook experience consists of seeing what some friends are doing and occasionally letting them know what I’m up to. I disable quite a few adds on the left because they are completely misleading and I don’t want them showing up in front of kids. and I ban every game app from sending me any messages on behalf of a friend as soon as I see one, because that is not why I use facebook and those things get in the way. I have left a few adds up and may leave more, but most out there right now are all on dating and that isn’t something I care to see adds on the internet for. So half of what is being changed probably would be ignored by over half of who see it anyway and if these changes are truly showing these companies the amount of users that may be interested verses just the exposure I think it is a good thing. They can focus on the interested people or focus on ways to make their product interesting! The old idea of marketting to the masses so you hit the few that would already be interested is probably going to die in todays social media world because those numbers can lie. I can mass market a plumbing add to the entire country’s IT professional population and you could imagine the chances of getting a hit? where if people interested in plumbing were the target whether plumbers or home owners you might have different exposure numbers but a lot better success with the add. No that computers can target somewhat it might show a company a truer size of their fan base. and giving things away to increase your fan likes etc… may increase those that say they are a fan, but in reality just wanted the free thing and block your adds. so Get real people and don’t expect to everyone on the internet to see your add let alone expect them to respond! Just my thoughts on internet advertising.

  • http://www.turpindodge.com Michael Bando

    I can honestly say the changes have not effected our facebook page at all. On a 7-day average of traffic to our facebook page we generally have between 40-70 people talking about us and 8,500-18,000 people reach. We never post anything that isn’t relevant and only post actual stories, events and dealership stories. We do not post our inventory on our facebook feed unless it is some rare car we never see. Our posts are hand typed and we never use a social media service to post content. I think the key to Google or facebook is relevant content and having a real person manage your website and social media is the key. I am just the internet manager at a dealership and handle all of the online sites and activities plus sell at the dealership. It costs the dealership a minimal amount of money to have an actual employee run it over having a service that charges thousands per month.

  • http://www.razorwrist.com RaZorWriSt

    My page was expanding at a really good rate; however, once the new algo was implemented, everything plummeted. Now, it’s at a dead standstill, and even moving backwards on some days. Google+ is really looking good right now.

  • Mark Anthony

    Greed will always destroy what is good. The greediest will always kill the goose that laid the golden egg. This is the beginning of the end of FB.

    FWIW, I’ve never been motivated to buy ANYTHING based on any advertisement on any form of the internet. I propose that FB (and, by proxy, Wall Street) is chasing after something that is only in their imagination.

  • Mb Crandell

    personally I make it a point to boycott ALL products and services of Advertisers that appear unwanted (99% or so) on ANY website I’m visiting. So many UNWANTED ADS have absolutely RUINED online gaming on many sites. My solution: DO NOT frequent any type of pay to play sites or sites that depend on online advertising to pay the bills.. As for feeds, your and your publicists are just realizing that NOW? Shame on you! I’ve narrowed my internet visits to a handful of sites because of all this crap. I stopped watching tv years ago because I got sick o the commercials. I usually deal with hundreds of people daily and am always happy to share my viewpoints about intrusive and unwanted ads….so there ya go. As for the feeds…no biggie. Once it gets to where I can’t stand FB I can go the individual websites. Already have deleted my gaming accoungs on FB and cut my online time by 90% on FB. The next step is an easy reach for me.