Jesper Åström
Nov 10, 2014

A major misconception about Facebook visibility

We've all decided Facebook has tweaked organic reach to drive brands to its advertising options. But does this conventional wisdom make sense?

Jesper Åström
Jesper Åström

We have all heard the talk. Facebook has decided to show less content organically to your page followers. Decided. Those greedy bastards. Now all they want is to take our money. We were having such a great time, together with the consumers of our products. “Bah…” as Homer would have put it.

However, is the truth really what we are trying to make it out to be? Has Facebook really pivoted and made a conscious decision to stick it to the brands? I quite frankly don’t believe they have.

In order to understand my reasoning, you have to understand the concept of two sided diminishing returns to scale.

But first. Watch this video, taking the route so many seem to want to take when their marketing targeting, know how and ability to understand how the web works, goes down the route of the blame game.

I like to think of those people like foil hat, fraud-calling crazies. Up for playing the attention game whenever they feel as there is exposure to be made. Rather than understanding, explaining and mentoring others to improve (as they can’t, they do not know how to), they seek visibility in the ease of blaming someone else for their own shortcomings.

And let’s face it. The guy got over 3 million views on that one. So, if one considers his incentive to stop, change and do better, I think we are barking up the wrong tree. Anyhow. Let’s stop whining and get back to talking about diminishing returns to scale.

Think of it like work. You get a new boss and the boss gives you a task. You perform well and so the boss gives you more tasks. You perform even better and so the boss starts giving you more than you can handle. Stops giving work to other people as they perform worse than you. You still want to perform well, but there are simply too many things to do. So. What does your boss do? Does she/he start giving work to someone else? Well, only after a certain amount of time, as he needs to respond to this new behavior from you.

The shift in trust between you and your boss (Facebook’s trust in your content) and your ability to deliver on every instance (the relevance in the content to you) decrease as the interactions become too big for every delivery to fit.

The Facebook algorithm is two sided. One side receiving and interpreting content, the other side publishing the content where it is most relevant.

If you as a marketer want more likes to your page and pay for it, then that is your input. Facebook tries to interpret your intentions and determine what your content is about. They then focus on delivering your content to the people who are most likely to like what your page is about, considering, in this example, you paid to get more likes.

However, the number of pages liked by an average user in the USA is much greater than the number of pages liked by a person—on average—in Southeast Asia. Considering the vast growth in likes of pages in the US, it is not difficult to assume that the algorithm has adapted to push like ads towards regions, where it expects a lot of likes to brand pages will come from in the near future.

In 2009 the average Facebook member had liked 4.5 pages on Facebook. Today that number is 40 for the world, 70 for the US. In 2009 this meant that Facebook had to consider to show about 0.8 stories from brands per day, whilst they now have to choose between 45 posts per day.

With this fact alone. It is not difficult to understand why each post you publish doesn’t show to every user in your following. In fact. It is quite easy to understand why it is only showed to about 5 per cent of your audience.

Also, considering that for each page a person likes, for each new person he or she connects to, you have a diminishing return in terms of visibility to that person. Just as you have a diminishing return for every new follower you have, considering the fact that your input might not be deemed relevant to other than a few of your fans.

In a set of relationships, you are on average one out of 150 available to consume content from on Facebook. This is based on the notion that you have on average 150 friends. For every new person a Facebook member gets, the number of possible posts they could see at any time they log into Facebook increase and thus, your chance of being seen decrease.

In fact, as Facebook reports, you are competing with 1,500 to 15,000 stories at any given point in time. The pure notion that you happen to be shown to 5 per cent of your fans every time you post—should thus be considered a miracle rather than a problem. As a matter of fact, you should be feeling AWESOME being that relevant to people.

Remember. You are competing with cute babies and marriages.

Truthfully, Facebook skewed the curve to benefit you in the beginning; user behavior was more active in the beginning, and everyone had fewer stories to look at in the beginning. So many factors that make the decrease in organic visibility make sense. If the fraud was at any point in time, it was in the beginning of time. Now however, your visibility makes more sense in the big scheme of things.

But there are tactics and tricks to make your shit glow like prisms in rock on a sunny day, and I will share two of these tactics with you. They are both based upon listening, reacting and adapting. Which means…you will have to learn how to do that, in order to become truly successful in your marketing on Facebook.

1. Study the way people talk with each other

Study the words they use. If we have any belief in that Facebook listens in on words, it is highly likely they also care about how your words' context matches that of your followers. You should try to tweak your semantics to fit with your audience, rather than following your brand guidelines.

2. Have opinions

If you have opinions, you are much more relevant to get interactions. Use the open statement and closed question tactic if you are really scared of using your voice to gain traction. More importantly, though, study trends in what people have opinions about. If it is cats, pugs or monkeys, perhaps—if visibility is what you are looking for—you should tailor content around those topics. Creativity can let you use a cat even though you are in finance or medicine. It is just your brand guidelines that kill you in that respect.

Didangdidangdidang that’s all folks!!

Jesper Åström is a Hyper Island collaborator and co-founder and head of tactics for For Sure Agency.

 

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