Fewer people are seeing Facebook posts from brands, businesses and celebrities, the social network has acknowledged.
Facebook has long used a set of computerized rules—referred to in shorthand as an “algorithm”—to determine which updates show up when you log in. It recently made tweaks to its algorithm that push updates from Facebook Pages—the presences maintained by organizations and businesses—lower in the news feed and show fewer posts to users.
One way Facebook makes money is through a form of advertising where it charges Page owners to boost the reach of their posts beyond the “organic” reach arrived at by Facebook’s algorithm.
The company says the news feed updates put a focus on “higher-quality content.” The end result: While celebrities and brands with large followings may continue to enjoy large audience on Facebook, small businesses who rely on their Facebook pages for marketing will likely be forced to pay up or see their reach on Facebook limited.
Each day, there are an average of 1,500 stories the company can show in someone’s news feed, and Facebook said in December that as a result of the increased competition for post views, many pages will likely see a decline in organic reach.
“We have not given a specific reach number that pages should expect to see because organic reach will vary by page and by post,” a Facebook spokesperson said in a statement to ReadWrite today.
It is unclear how page views have been affected, but a report from Valleywag today claims the company is slashing organic reach to just one to two percent of people who have clicked a Page’s Like button.
ReadWrite contributor Lauren Orsini has experienced a significant drop in the number of followers that see her posts. Today, she shared news of her book launch to over 600 followers that Like her page, but it only appeared in the news feeds of 34 people, or just 5.6 percent of her fans.
Facebook says the best way to ensure a broad audience is viewing your posts is to buy advertisements. Pages can buy ads by reach, and advertisers can target specific demographics to view posts.
“Like many mediums, if businesses want to make sure that people see their content, the best strategy is, and always has been, paid advertising,” the spokesperson said.
However, there is some controversy over the accuracy of advertising metrics and the returns advertisers see from such campaigns.
The downside for Facebook as it makes these changes is that some prospective advertisers may pull away from Facebook altogether.
A decrease in organic reach is an ongoing worry for Page owners as many people use Facebook as a means of free advertising instead of paying for more traditional marketing campaigns. As Facebook continues to put an emphasis on more “high quality” content and lowers organic reach, it could force businesses, small mom-and-pop shops and big brands alike, to rethink their marketing strategies.
Photo by Andreas Ivarsson