Somebody Thinks The Facebook Organic Reach Decline Is A Good Thing

By: Chris Crum - March 28, 2014

At least somebody thinks the brutal slashing of your Facebook Page’s organic reach is a good thing.

Have you found a silver lining to Facebook showing less people your posts organically? Let us know in the comments.

Isobar director of strategy Bryan Maleszyk wrote an article for DigiDay, saying that “brands should thank Facebook for charging them.” That’s probably not what a lot of Page owners want to hear right now as Facebook is killing their organic reach, and an interesting debate has emerged in the comments of his article.

Maleszyk does make some interesting points, but much if it is indeed debatable. His basic premise is that you should have expected to have the free ride (organic reach) end, and that many brands have accumulated “graveyards” of fans by “dubious means” like buying likes, which are “counted, regardless of their true value to the brand.”

I won’t attempt to sum up his entire piece. You can read it yourself, but one part I find highly debatable is when he says:

It is Facebook’s responsibility to maintain the best user experience possible for its 1.2 billion users, so as to avoid the MySpace curse of over-advertising. If brand content continues to overwhelm the news feed with such limited engagement, the currently small trickle of user abandonment will likely turn into a torrent. And without them, Facebook offers no value.

OK, so Facebook should avoid over-advertising by reducing the organic reach of posts from Pages that those users liked, and show those users more posts from Pages that they may or may not have liked because the Pages paid for it?

I’m not seeing the logic on that one. Speaking strictly as a user, I want to see updates from Pages I like. That’s why I liked them. That’s the whole point, or so I thought. It bothers me that I’m not seeing the content I signed up to see. I don’t think I’m alone there. It’s not Facebook’s responsibility (at least it shouldn’t be) to determine whether or not I’m seeing too many posts or irrelevant posts from the Pages I explicitly “liked”. That should be for me to determine. If I do in fact determine that I don’t like what I’m getting from a Page that I have liked, then I would unlike it. It’s pretty simple. It works marvelously on Twitter (and I hope it never changes there).

If you subscribe to an RSS feed, and you don’t like the content the blog is pushing out, you unsubscribe. If you get an email newsletter, and you don’t like it, then you unsubscribe. Why should liking a Facebook Page be any different?

From the Page owner/admin’s perspective, you’re now forced to pay if you want to get any visibility whatsoever. Facebook is reportedly cutting organic reach down to 1 or 2 percent. If you start a new page, and wish to build a following by getting your early fans to engage with your posts, and potentially increase your reach that way, good luck getting more than one of those early fans to even see your posts to begin with without paying.

What’s interesting is that Facebook seems intent on cramming your News Feed with other content, like stories from pages you haven’t even liked. It’s even testing a feature to show you the stories that you “missed” even though that just means the stories that Facebook chose not to show you in the first place. Remember when you could just see all the content from your friends and the Pages you liked? What a simpler time.

Commenting on the DigiDay article, John writes, “What about the Facebook users who like a page because they WANT the information from that page? And the whole algorithm thing is a crock. I grew my page to 117,000, with over 200,000 ‘talking about this’ and 4,000,000 weekly reach and I did it 100% organically. Then, I advertised for one week to test how it worked. The day after the campaign stopped my reach dropped 90%.”

ThinkBlue commented, “You kind of forgot to mention the part where Facebook already charged brands billions of dollars to buy these ‘likes’ by promising access to highly targeted, highly engaged consumers. This was the ultimate bait and switch. Why trust them now?”

While the post appears to be aimed at bigger brands, one reader noted that for small publishers and bloggers, the whole thing can be “crushing.” In response, Maleszyk admitted that this was a good point, but then suggested that “things are looking up for publishers” on the organic side thanks to Facebook’s Paper app.

It’s a little early in the Paper days to make anything out of that.

It seems like there’s nothing left to do, but to play ball with Facebook, or stop relying on it for any real visibility. They did add some new targeting capabilities that will let you reach people who are similar to people who have visited your site, used your mobile app or connected to your Facebook Page.

There are some front-end changes going on with Facebook as well, in case you haven’t noticed. Both the News Feed and Pages both have new designs (if not fully rolled out just yet).

Gain, a Facebook marketing app, has figured out how to get the most out of your images in the new News Feed design. They put out a new infographic on the topic. I don’t know that it will do much to help you with your organic reach, but it could at least make the few posts that people do see look better.

As far as the new Page design goes, Facebook did answer some questions businesses were having about it. Here’s what we learned from that Q&A. In the left-hand column, brick-and-mortar business Pages will feature business info like a map, phone number, business hours, likes, visits, etc., as well as videos and photos. Reviews, posts to your Page and Pages your Page likes will also appear there.

For businesses operating primarily online, the column will show likes, info about the business, apps (if relevant), photos, videos, posts to Page and the Pages your Page likes.

Admins will be able to rearrange the order in which any of this stuff appears, which is nice. In addition to the left-hand column, apps can appear in the top navigation menu, and admins can also rearrange the order of those.

Pages with messages activated can view them in the Activity tab at the top of the Page, and in the This Week box on the right side.

As you may know, the design also comes with a “Pages to Watch” feature. Facebook clarified that Pages will see when they’ve been added to lists, but they won’t know what Page added them.

Do you like the direction Facebook is going in for marketing? How about for users? Let us know in the comments.

Image via Facebook

About the Author

Chris CrumChris Crum has been a part of the WebProNews team and the iEntry Network of B2B Publications since 2003. Follow Chris on Twitter, on StumbleUpon, on Pinterest and/or on Google: +Chris Crum.

View all posts by Chris Crum
  • spoons

    Why should a Page owner pay to reach more people when the people that follow are not even getting the content . The more that number goes up the more you pay So in theory your better off having a regular profile with 50k followers then a page with 50k Likes

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

      Agree…..

      Right, now, honestly, I would be better off dumping all the Likes I have and start all over again.

      IF Facebook would show me who, on the “likes” list was not engaging – I would dump them carte blanche. But, I am forced to carry the “dead weight” on the Likes whether they are productive participants of the page or not. Benefits Facebook – has zero benefit to me as a Page Owner.

  • Michael Horner

    It seems that Facebook is attempting to lose more people and businesses. Most page owners spend a lot of time and effort to bring quality content to their page. Now, it doesn’t seem worth it, if only a couple of people are going to see it. I can start a blog to get my content out rather than FB. I haven’t been using Twitter and Google +, but now they seem a better choice.

  • http://overallbeauty.com/ Kim Snyder

    I have found that a app added to Firefox blocks all the ads etc on Facebook. Which by the way I do own a fan page. The number I reach hasn’t really changed. Probably because I have less than 10,000. I hate going on Facebook these days to do much of anything but the age group I sell to, are there.
    I just hate seeing ads for products, or single men etc on my personal page. As a small business owner and blogger I don’t think I should have to pay for “Likes” or have anyone have the rights to change what I see. I tend to go to groups I belong to and not look at my feed. Don’t tell me what you feel I want to see. That to me is controlling and I tend to dislike being told what to do.
    Like you Chris if I do not like what I am seeing from a person or page, I un-Like it. Or if a person is sharing photos of hurt animals. It is a as easy as that. I won’t have Facebook on my phone either. My husband does, so each time one of his friends post a photo his damn phones whistles at him. Listen to that for a while, drives me nuts! And we can’t find where to turn that off either. So yes Facebook has its good side but right now I am seeing too much of its bait and switch..

    That is my two cents worth..

  • Bob

    This is my favorite comment (I’ve heard several variations of this): “It is Facebook’s responsibility to maintain the
    best user experience possible for its 1.2 billion users, so as to avoid the
    MySpace curse of over-advertising.”

    First of all, who put FB in charge of determining what content
    is going to give me the best “user experience”? What a ruse! More importantly I
    have noticed that my news feed is already dominated by spam advertising. I now
    have to pull up specific friends if I want to find out what they are up to.
    This is going nowhere fast!

  • Julia Gifford

    I Have paid for advertising on “Facebook”. I received a lot of likes, but not converting into sales. “Facebook”, is all about who likes your page, they are making money off of you and you get nothing in return. “Facebook” is about who likes your page, and it is not for advertising to make money. I have put up several ads with “Facebook”, and just lost my money.

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

      Julia – I invested in advertizing. They absolutely did not deliver as promised, and their own statistics showed that so, I wrote a short response, filed with PayPal for “not as advertized” and, after 30 days and an investigation on PayPal’s part, they refunded all my money. I will not be repeating advertising again.

      Truth in fact – our Business Pages actually have, for all essential purposes, zero “reach” unless you “pay to play” , you are paying for “dead weight” on your pages, and, also, across the board – not a straight standard payment. Just because someone has a Facebook “A/c”, does not mean they drop in to check their pages on any regular basis. So, its a crap shoot when you pay to “reach” that kind of dead weight.

      I recognize the ruse of a business page is dead for a myriad of reasons – but I post there regularly but – it is my website I rely on. So, for public appearances, yes, I have a business page, yes, it has a growing number of likes, yes, I post on it regularly – but, unless you run a competition, very little engagement. On my personal Timeline – all sorts of activity and it is there that I “play”.

      Personally – I am on Facebook burnout and I am tired of working this hard to “keep up”, “interact”, and “stay enthused”.

  • Fatima Delle Donne

    Extortion. Greedy. They are taking everything away from Page Owners and the followers. I hate what they are doing. We put a lot of work and now, THEY decide who sees it ???? Money talks and life goes on. Where do we all stand?

  • http://wredlich.com/ny/ Warren Redlich

    “What about the Facebook users who like a page because they WANT the information from that page?”

    The real secret here is that FB users should consider unliking pages they don’t want information from. As a user strategy, this would help make your news feed more relevant to what you want to see.

    So many users have liked hundreds or even thousands of pages. By reducing your likes you make it easier for FB to serve you the content you actually want.

    But I wouldn’t count on users getting there.

    For our most successful page we focus on staying relevant to our fans. We have a well-targeted audience and we get great reach on the best posts. Some posts, by contrast, get very little reach.

  • defunkd

    It took us 5+ years to organically build our niche site’s fan base to 2600+ likes. In the last year we’ve been lucky if 10% see it. We’ve had it. We’re in the process of pulling all links from our site to FB. There’s no point in deceiving our customers by encouraging them to Like us for updates – when they wont actually get them. Unless of course we shell out money that we don’t have – a trap we’ve fallen into recently.

    1% organic reach? We’ll likely just suspend our page in hopes one day it becomes worthwhile again. Surely Facebook will clue in at some point? In the meantime we’ll gladly put work into growing our other social profiles. You know, the ones where users who follow, actually get the information they signed up to receive. What a novel idea!

  • https://www.facebook.com/colin.edwards.3766 colin

    As a musician – not a business – I find the reduction in organic reach enough to make me start thinking of ditching Facebook and finding alternative pathways to reach those who may like my music.

  • http://www.maleszyk.com Bryan Maleszyk

    Hey Chris, this is a great article from a different point of view than mine. And while much of everything we both write here is debatable, I’ll just respond to the main point you pulled out of the article. You said that as a user you “want to see updates from Pages I like. That’s why I liked them.” That was indeed the idea when Facebook released the like feature in the first place. But marketers are not as idealistic as Facebook was back then, and the reality is that most people don’t want to here from ALL of the brands they like ALL of the time. In many cases, they’ve liked a brand just to get a discount. This is a lesson Facebook learned: Put a feature out, marketers take advantage of it. And while the idealist in all of us (including marketers) would hope to agree with you, the engagement numbers don’t add up, and Facebook is attempting to course-correct.

    You might ask: Why don’t users just “unlike” pages they don’t want to hear from?Some users do, but the problem Facebook has comes down to semantics: just as in real life, we say we like something far more often than we say we dislike something else, and that behavior translates to the like action on Facebook. The result for most users is far more likes on pages that users don’t actually like than the ideal. (I’ve tested and proved this notion many times before; my background is in user experience design. It’s the same reason why many people have more friends on Facebook than they’re actually friends with in real life.)

    The comment about Paper was meant to illustrate that Facebook is actually *trying* to find ways to give users the content they want. Paper is clearly focused around value-driven content (like news). I think it’s a way to test the types of content people want organically. Facebook can use the information it gets from it to create a better overall Facebook experience.

    I’ll be the first to admit Facebook didn’t predict that marketers looking for free distribution would take advantage of the like button, and also that they haven’t yet figured out the solution to the problem. The bottom line is that Facebook is a business. if you use its platform as a tool for marketing, you’re ceding some level of control to them, but they give you a lot of control as to what you put on your page and who you target. It’s a marketer’s responsibility to use the platform for the good of their target audience. Suggesting you shouldn’t pay a business to use their service for any other industry would be asinine. Why would it be the same with Facebook?

    • Chris Crum

      Hi Bryan, thanks for weighing in here, and adding to the conversation. Like I mentioned in the article, I do think you have some valid points. And I don’t think it’s a huge surprise that Facebook is doing this. It just sucks for businesses and for users in my opinion. I feel like Facebook is hurting the user experience more than it’s helping it. I don’t expect them to do anything different.

      I’m still skeptical that Paper will have any significant impact.

      To your point about people saying they like something more often than saying they dislike something, I think a lot of users have been waiting for a “dislike” button for a long time, but Facebook won’t give them one. It seems like that could send another signal to Facebook about the types of content they should show in News Feeds (if they’re not going to show everything). Right now, their white-listing of sites (like BuzzFeed) is just not good.

      A “dislike” button would also serve as a helpful signal for Page admins who could take dislikes as constructive feedback on the types of posts they share.

      But yes, Facebook wants you to pay, so to hell with that. Unfortunately, it seems like a lot of people are finding FB advertising not to be worth it.

  • Art

    I have never found any value in F/B, its far more expensive to reach enough prospective customers and their privacy is the worst.

  • Rebecca

    I have a Facebook anomaly for you that I’d appreciate opinions on. I’ve seen the recent news, the recent evidence and even the recent outcries from some Facebook pages I follow about the decline in their organic reach. But here’s my question. For the past two and a half weeks or so, my company Facebook page has BLOWN UP, and I don’t know why. Quite suddenly, I went from averaging 50 new likes a day to averaging 600+ a day. My reach over the past week is over 2M people, where it was normally hovering around 100k per week previously. I’m not a complete Facebook newb, but still, I cannot figure this out. What the hell am I doing right (so I can keep on doing it)? I keep waiting for the bottom to drop out of this crazy ride I’ve been on.

  • http://www.titanwebagency.com/ Tyson Downs

    While Facebook isn’t obligated to show my updates or those of my company, it does get frustrating seeing updates from the same company’s day after day, and not seeing updates from my friends. Seeing my business’s organic reach fall month after month, and this is with more posts, more interaction, more engagement on my part is a bit frustrating.