Organic Reach Is Declining on Facebook. What Does This Mean for Marketers?

Published on September 14, 2016

For years, publishers of all shapes and sizes have all relied on Facebook for sharing content, retargeting clients, and building new audiences.

And publishers have stuck with Facebook through a lot over the years. From massively changing demographics to platform updates like live video, marketers have weathered it all over the years. Still, everyone stuck with Facebook because its core promises and potential always remained pure: You could spread your updates and content to a very large audience at a reasonably low cost.

But for marketers and other media professionals, those days may be over.

Earlier this summer, Facebook unveiled sweeping changes to its news feed that promised to promote friends and family at the expense of third parties, including marketers and news organizations. And while this may offer benefits to users, it comes with a brutal side effect, as the New York Times reports:

“…content posted by publishers will show up less prominently in news feeds, resulting in significantly less traffic to the hundreds of news media sites that have come to rely on Facebook.”

And this latest move by Facebook is just another point on a worrisome trend line that industry experts have been following for some time now.

Across platforms, but particularly on Facebook, organic reach – the number of people your posts reach for free – is in steep decline.

This Hubspot article does a great job of looking at the steep decline publishers have been seeing over the years, and some of its findings are alarming. According to one study, organic reach for the average Facebook page declined from 16.5% to a mere 6.5%. Other findings are even less rosy: Research from Social@Ogilvy, for instance, found that organic reach could be as low as 2%, even for pages with more than 500,000 likes.

That’s huge. Well, teeny. But in this case, they mean the same thing: Fewer likes, clicks, shares, and conversions being generated for free by your Facebook page.

In an age where so many marketers have put their eggs the social media basket, what does this mean for the future? Here are a few key things to consider:

1.) Facebook is Trying to Transform to a Paid Platform

While Facebook cites a glut of content and its focus on user experience as the reasons for the reach decline, it’s easy to pick out a more sinister motivation: money. Perhaps Facebook is reducing organic reach capabilities in order to lean on publishers to spend more on paid advertising and promoted posts, right?

And while Facebook has categorically denied this, the fact remains: With organic reach rapidly trending toward zero on the platform, users who wish to stay in touch with their fans should look into paid advertising on Facebook. As a supplement to organic efforts, there are worse tactics; Facebook advertising is relatively cheap and offers a historically high ROI, with a variety of useful built-in tools and features.

2.) It Helps to Make Use of New Features

Facebook may be the biggest kid in the schoolyard, but it’s far from the only one ready to play ball. There are countless opportunities available for marketers looking for new audiences and channels, from Pinterest to Instagram to the ascendant Snapchat and the always-reliable LinkedIn. And experiment with many of the new features that Facebook rolls out as it unveils them, including live video. It can’t hurt to be ahead of the curve!

3.) Now is the Time to Redouble Your Content Efforts

Social is a powerful source for spreading your positive PR and connecting with your audience, but it’s far from the only way to capture conversions and boost traffic. Instead of relying on Facebook’s organic reach, refocus on capturing search engines’ organic traffic in the months ahead.

Take the time you may have spent on targeting Facebook and get creative, producing other powerful, SEO-optimized inbound marketing tools: Refocus on your blog and start creating multimedia content, like videos, infographics, and podcasts. Maximizing the assets that you own and control can pay off hugely in terms of drawing in traffic, leads, and conversions.

In the market for a digital guru to guide you through the ever-changing world of content creation and social media marketing? Geek is here to help! We have a proven track record of driving in traffic and generating sales for businesses of all sizes. Drop us a line today to get the conversation started!

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