It appears the free ride is coming to an end for Facebook Business Pages and, to put it mildly, marketers and business owners are not happy about it.
Facebook says recent algorithm changes are intended to create a better user overall experience, but most aren’t buying that argument.
Once upon a time (way back in 2012), marketers happily competed for ‘likes’, knowing that once someone ‘liked’ their Facebook business page, every subsequent post to that business page would appear in that fan’s newsfeed. From that point on, fans could like and share individual posts, further improving the reach of that business page.
You could also count on the fact that if your business page had 250 fans, everything you posted would be delivered to 250 newsfeeds, with the added benefit that these were people who had already chosen to engage with your business at least once.
Make no mistake about it, marketers and social media managers invested a lot time and money – as much as $1 per like – building Facebook followings for their companies, knowing the payoff could be huge in terms of reaching new customers.
Drop in shares and likes
Over the past several months, however, some people started noticing that the number of likes and shares on their posts were dropping significantly.
It didn’t take long to track that decline back to the fact that their posts suddenly weren’t reaching all of their fans.
In the past, a page with 1,500 fans would see its posts AvaTrade Facebook Page reach nearly 100% of those newsfeeds. However, with Facebook’s recent algorithm changes, that reach has been reduced to less than 5% of those fans.
It took a while for marketers to really register the decline, but now that they have, reactions have been pouring in.
“And just like that, Facebook goes the way of magazines and television commercials – priced only for the big boys and shutting the door in the face of small business,” commented Julie Sturgeon, owner of an online newspaper, in reaction to the Ad Age article Facebook Admits Organic Reach is Falling Short, Urges Marketers to Buy Ads.
“But the real problem, I think, is that businesses are allowing Facebook to perpetuate this system and encourage it. Facebook is creating a Pay to Play system and everyone who participates is feeding the system,” said social media manager Mike Alton in a recent article published by The Social Media Hat, Why You Should Opt Out Of Facebook Advertising. “How long before businesses have to pay for every post to be seen by even one person?”
“The future of businesses on Facebook looks grim for those who don’t want to pay to play,” said Jennifer Slegg, a writer with Search Engine Watch, in her article entitled Facebook Admits: Expect Organic Reach for Pages to Continue Declining. “As more businesses are forced to turn to paid promotion, the cost of promoting posts on Facebook is set to skyrocket. The way businesses do business on Facebook is changing and it’s going to be expensive.”
“Bold move, Facebook. All this will do is continue to push people (users and businesses) to use Twitter to interact with businesses and brands that they ‘like’. I understand wanting to get paid (if you can) for something that is free currently, but this is pushing the money grab a little too much. I don’t ‘like’ this at all.” A comment posted by JoshFialky in response to a Search Engine Watch article, Facebook Admits: Expect Organic Reach for Pages to Continue Declining.
Pay to play
There’s no question the reach of business pages has been reduced and will probably drop even further, according to a recent statement from Facebook.
“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,” Facebook said in a document sent to the partners in November 2013 and released to Ad Age. The document goes on to suggest that marketers should consider paid distribution if they want to be in the newsfeeds.
And that’s the bottom line: If you want a guaranteed spot on anyone’s newsfeed, you’re going to have to pay for it.
If you choose not to spend any money promoting your Facebook posts, they will only be seen by a dwindling number of your fans and you will, naturally, see fewer likes and shares per post, as well.