Chartered Institute of Public Relations

Facebook admits it is forcing brands to buy its ads by reducing organic reach

We have all been noticing it for the last twelve months or so, but it has now been confirmed that there is an active reduction in our Facebook page’s organic reach. According to Advertising Age the social network has starting marketing the fact that you need to promote your brand’s Facebook status if you want it to be seen by the majority.

Facebook used to share your content based on its algorithm Edgerank but around this time last year marketers started complaining of content being throttled. We manage around 20 Facebook pages at Prohibition and also noticed that content wasn’t reaching the dizzy heights it used to. Content that used to get reach 80% of the page’s demographic now only seemed to be reaching around 15%. Why was this?facebook

In February 2013, Facebook responded to a lot of criticism that page content was being throttled in order to sell more PPC support and it provided its response in a video which included an American lady explaining a few key bugs in its update. This is what its official statement said:

As part of our ongoing investment in Page Insights, we recently completed a comprehensive engineering audit of the product.  During this audit we uncovered bugs that impacted impression and reach reporting.  We have confirmed that these issues impacted reporting only and not delivery.  Ad Insights were not impacted by these bugs.

As soon as we found the bugs our engineering team began work to resolve them as quickly as possible.  We’re rolling out fixes beginning this morning and over the weekend.

A recent official sales presentation from Facebook clearly stated:

“We expect organic distribution of an individual page’s posts to gradually decline over time as we continually work to make sure people have a meaningful experience on the site.”

So online marketers are now being told to seriously consider paid distribution f0r your Facebook strategy and I find this depressing but the game is theirs and you need to use advertisements: “to maximise delivery of your message in news feed.”

I was speaking at a social media event recently and had a chat with a senior marketer who told me about a theory they had that Facebook choking content that included an external link. The theory is Facebook reduces the exposure of any link that is going to take people away from Facebook. So if you share a picture or video that is hosted on Facebook that will get a 20-30% more exposure than those that are pointing outside of the network. I have looked at the insights on my pages and also noticed that this does appear to be happening although I haven’t seen any official statements on the issue.

Apparently the lack of visibility is not being blamed on the hunger for your money but because there is increased competition for limited update space. I think this is a rather convenient excuse if you ask me and although there is a limited amount of space the advertising spend still seems to secure you that space.

I know its Facebook’s game and it has to make money but I think this commitment to make the marketing side more and more expensive is unfair to the smaller businesses that have worked to grow their brands on the platform. The big brands will always have the budgets for the growing costs but it’s the smaller local companies that seem to be losing out. If it pushes too hard it may find its not just teenagers leaving but marketers leaving to the enemy Google+.

Image credit to pshab

 

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