Whilst organic reach on Facebook has been dwindling for years, the announcement from Mark Zuckerberg on 12th January 2018 marks the biggest change yet to the Facebook News Feed.
If you thought your organic reach on Facebook was already low, it’s going to get even lower very soon.
Over the coming months Facebook will roll out a change that will see posts from friends and family being prioritised over content posted from publishers and brands. Take a moment to consider that, because If you thought your organic reach on Facebook was already low, it’s going to get even lower very soon.
This represents the biggest change we’ve ever seen to Facebook and will make it even more difficult for brands and businesses to reach their customers there.
Facebook is making the changes to encourage dialogue between friends and family, or as they put it, “encourage meaningful conversations”.
It’s a huge change and it has massive implications for businesses on Facebook, especially those already struggling with low organic reach.
Key changes and considerations for businesses using Facebook
These are some of the things you’re going to need to think about.
- Now is the time to start to scale back your posting frequency and be clear, it’s more important than ever to focus your efforts on quality content not quantity. It’s time to work out how to create content that relates to your brand that people will want to talk about between themselves and accept that due to the nature of your business, this might not actually be possible
- Ensure your posts are longer, meaningful and invite discussion or interaction in the comments section without directly asking people to comment
- When you post content on Facebook, you should understand that only those followers who have clicked the ‘see first’ option are likely to see your post, a figure that could be as low as just 1% or 2% of your total followers, so encouraging as many followers as possible to choose the ‘see first’ option is critical
- Switch your focus from short-form video to longer form videos and try to factor Facebook Live into your marketing efforts
- Local news publishers and community groups stand to prosper in the coming Facebook News Feed change, and Zuckerberg has reiterated the new changes will give prominence to trusted local news sources whilst seeking to make Facebook better for personal wellbeing and society
- Facebook native video and live streaming will continue to be an important component of Facebook and such videos will receive a boost in News Feed
- Engagement-baiting people into commenting is now a big no, no. Innocently suggesting people leave a comment or asking people to leave a comment to enter a competition is a technique that will see your posts demoted further
- Receiving long comments from your followers will prove much more beneficial as they indicate a greater level of engagement
- Stop thinking that Facebook is a viable way of driving website traffic for free. You need to set aside a budget for Facebook adverting now – this is the only way you can be sure people will see your posts
- The cost of advertising on Facebook will almost certainly go up now, so increasing your existing Facebook advertising budget is essential
On the face of it, the changes seem like a good move for users and a disastrous one for businesses. As I’ve hypothesised for years though, Facebook organic reach is now well and truly a thing of the past for the majority of businesses.
To their credit, Facebook have finally listened to their users who have expressed increased dissatisfaction with a cluttered News Feed, and have proved that they are happy to take a financial hit in order to improve the user experience.
What does the future hold for Facebook?
Whilst this seems like an admirable stance, the new focus on content that sparks conversation and drives engagement essentially means that controversial topics that get people talking could be most likely to prosper.
I’m not sure that’s really a good thing from a user’s point of view because that means, in the short term at least, a surge in thinly veiled link-bait tactics; shocking headlines and outrageous claims being made just to get people talking and even arguing amongst themselves.
It also means an inevitable surge in paid advertising as businesses are forced to battle for ever diminishing visibility, sending demand for ads soaring which will result in making Facebook advertising more expensive.
These changes will be rolled out over the coming months and will severely impact organic reach of posts from business pages. Whilst there are things you can do to mitigate the impact, especially if you rely heavily on Facebook, a thorough strategic rethink is necessary and you need to act now.