‘If you are not paying for the product, you are not the customer, you are the product being sold.’ For too long marketers have been getting free (or almost free) marketing on facebook. But the facebook landscape is changing, and drastically. The social media site that has almost 1.23 billion monthly active users has gone through several iterations of news feed changes. The most recent one has led to a significant reduction in the number of feed items you can see on a single fold. On the other hand though, the number of pages and people are increasing every minute.
Every page owner wants his posts to be seen by all his fans. People don’t want to see updates from many pages and yet continue to like them. Facebook is on a tight rope? Well, no.
Gary Vaynerchuk has rightly noted, “Marketers ruin everything.” Direct mail was the go-to strategy two decades back and then the letter boxes started getting overcrowded. Then came e-mail. It was a boon for marketers, and customers. Customers loved receiving mails offering them 40-50 percent discounts. And then the marketers ruined it. Now, all people do is delete, report spam or unsubscribe from the mailers.
Something similar has been happening on our newsfeeds. Consider the following statistics for an average facebook user:
has 300 friends
likes 40 pages
logs in for 20 minutes per session
The average number of posts that is eligible to show up in someone’s newsfeed is 1500. Think for a moment what would you rather see – a post from your close friend or a post from yet another website selling you a t-shirt.
Facebook began reducing its organic reach back in 2012, when it notified this in an official post.
“Pages organically reach about 16% of their fans on average. To make sure your fans see your stories, sponsor your posts to increase the reach of your content. Read more: http://on.fb.me/J5boyc” (source)
But now Facebook has reduced its organic reach to six percent of users. Depending on the number of page likes, this will still give any page owner an audience much larger than e-mail marketing. And he can push out this kind of marketing at least thrice a day while the same over e-mail could land him up in the spam folder.
Of course, marketers are worried. But some amount of blame should lie with them. They did not diversify when they had the chance. Basing your business entirely on the premise that a free service will help you market it is not the smartest decision.
“keepcalmdesi.com is a self sustained startup. We have been marketing our brand just through facebook. The recent news feed algorithm change of facebook is proving to be lethal for our brand and many other startups. Most of our posts go unseen, buried under the 1500 posts that most users get per day, on an average. The only way to guarantee everyone sees the post is that the brand spend a minimum of INR 300 on each post .This has led to approximately 40% downfall in our monthly sales,” says Sagar Grover, one of the co-founders.
To be fair to facebook, this is something it has been hinting on for a couple of years now. The platform has been continuously iterated for marketers. An increase in the number of brand posts would lead to a worse experience for the end-user.
What one needs to understand is that Facebook is a publicly traded company and is answerable to its investors. This means extracting as much money as it can out of the platform. Hence, this was an inevitable transition.
Soumitra Paul who is building Engagewise, a Facebook marketing automation tool believes that problem lies with the marketers.
“One problem that I have seen with many pages is that the objective of the page is not clear. As a result, there is a lack of consistency in the effectiveness of posts. I suspect this is the case of majority of the business pages,” he reasons.
Digital marketing gurus have been brandishing Twitter and Google+ as the next weapons of marketing. Diversification is a must-have strategy for marketers. But, is leaving facebook and completely moving social media marketing to Twitter and Google+ a good idea?
“The key to engagement is to ensure that the audience is right. Facebook allows me to target precisely who I want to like my page and come visit my site. Does Google+ have those options? Does Google+ know enough about its user to provide me those options? Yes, Google can fetch it from the search history, email and wherever they are extracting data from. But before I move to G+ I would like to know a few success stories of small companies with limited budget and resources generating sales directly from G+,” Soumitra adds.
Soumitra also believes that this is a temporary outburst by the marketers and they will soon come to terms with it.
“I know many marketers are really pissed off at Facebook, but I would like to see how many of them actually leave. I bet they won’t. Neither would I,” he claims.
While you decide whether or not to allocate a marketing budget spend for facebook, here are a few things you can do to increase the reach:
A. If you are a page with a large audience, you might want to split out your audience into two or more pages. The reason being that organic reach for pages with more than 500,000 likes have an even lesser reach of around two percent.
B. Use status instead of pictures or links. Unless the content is inherently viral, a status update has almost double the reach of a picture or a link update.
C. Try to build engagement with the audience. Posts with more user likes and comments get better reach.
What do you think about Facebook restricting organic reach? What other tips do you have for facebook marketers? Let us know in the comments.