Lately, brands all across the world have noticed a significant decrease in organic reach (the amount of people your Facebook posts reach without spending any money promoting them). Several studies show a decrease of 40 per cent, and our own stats confirm the trend. This means that a Facebook page reaches a much lower percentage of the page’s fans, and this should lead to a shift in the way we think about paid social.
The new algorithm tweaks
As the number of brands and people on Facebook is increasing, Facebook needs to prioritise even harder which stories to show the users, which has led to this quite dramatic decrease in organic reach for pages. Obviously, the fact that Facebook needs to make money from its platform also plays a role an important role in this.
This means that a page with 10,000 fans might only reach 300 to 500 people with their Facebook posts, unless they promote the posts to their fans.
It is not necessarily better to have a larger fan base if you don’t have the money to expose that base to your posts on a continuing basis. Also, instead of buying fans as cheap as possible, it might be better to target more specifically and paying a bit more for the fans in order to get the ‘right’ fans that actually want to engage with your content (since these are the only people that will see your content unless you promote your posts).
In six months, Brand A has invested a lot of money in getting more Facebook fans, and now boasts a fan base of 100,000. But since its fans do not really like the brand and were persuaded to like the page by a contest (and since Facebook has now limited its opportunities to reach its fans), its organic reach has decreased steadily and is now around 3,000 people per Facebook post. With five weekly updates, the brand reaches 15,000 people a week (but not unique people).
Brand B only has a fan base of 20,000 people. Instead, it is using the money to reach people within its fan base. It does this by sponsoring its posts whenever they have an important message or whenever it can see that a post is well-received by its audience. Hence, the brand doesn't only promote important product updates, but also promotes the lighter not-so-much-on-equity-stuff that gets a lot of engagement.
Through this strategy, Brand B might be able to reach 10,000 people per Facebook post. It posts less than Brand A, but since it promotes its posts, they have a longer life span than Brand A’s posts. As a result, Brand B is able to reach 30,000 people (not unique) in a week with just three quality updates—for the same amount of money Brand A is spending.
This is just an example, so the numbers might differ. However, it illustrates why focusing too much on increasing the fan base is not necessarily the right strategy.
Kristoffer Markussen is social media manager with SMG Social