I'm starting to get this question a lot: "Why is it when I share a photo on Facebook, only a small percentage of the people that 'like' my page see the post?"
The answer lies in an algorithm called EdgeRank. EdgeRank is Facebook's way of telling its users what they want to see based on their past behavior. It ensures all of the new baby, engagement, and funny memes get seen by a large audience, and the pizza joint you liked five years ago but have never gone back to isn't clogging your feed.
Facebook markets this algorithm as a way of doing their users a favor. They want to cleanse a Facebook timeline for you based on what they think you will find important. Brands know that what they really want to do is hold businesses hostage so they have to pay to play.
Facebook made $7.8 billion dollars in 2013. Most of their revenue comes from advertising dollars. So while the platform is technically free, to get the most out of it, Facebook is forcing brands to become paid members.
It used to be a little secret, but Facebook decided this fall to be a little more blunt with Business Pages. In an article titled "An Update to News Feed: What it Means for Businesses" Facebook explains:
Beginning in January 2015, people will see less of this type of [promotional] content in their News Feeds. As we’ve said before, News Feed is already a competitive place — as more people and Pages are posting content, competition to appear in News Feed has increased. All of this means that Pages that post promotional creative should expect their organic distribution to fall significantly over time.
Businesses should still refer to our Page publishing tips and best practices. And for targeting specific audiences with predictable reach, Facebook advertising offers ways to achieve specific business objectives, like driving in-store sales or app downloads.
We’re always thinking about how to make News Feed better, and this update is part of a larger, ongoing effort. By making News Feed more engaging for people — with Page post creative that is more relevant to them — we’re also creating a better platform for businesses to reach their customers and find new ones.
What happened was that Facebook surveyed its users and asked them "how can we be better?" Facebook users essentially said "knock it off with the ads" and Facebook came back and said, "we have heard your voices, we will make businesses think twice before they post anything promotional whatsoever!" which translates to businesses as "hey guys, you're just going to have to boost every post to get it seen by your target audience." So our outcome is more businesses paying for ads, which makes ads more competitive, and thus, more expensive for brands to use to hit their intended audiences.
As a business owner, what can you do?
1. Admit defeat, boost your posts, and get the most out of Facebook's incredible targeting options.
I know, I know. Not what you wanted to hear. But consider this: Facebook still has over a billion users. They have more information on these users than any advertising platform has ever had on its audience. The ability to boost your posts and distribute the message to a segmented demographic is spectacular. Let's say you are looking to reach 18 year old men in Omaha, Nebraska that like golf. You can target a post JUST to that audience! Really, it's that specific. So instead of going after a big reach with your campaigns, you should focus more on smaller and more targeted campaigns which in turn will produce more engagement.
2. Abide by Facebook's Best Practices
This is going to be Facebook's challenge with brands in 2015 and beyond: if brands follow all of the rules set out by Facebook and still cannot reach the numbers they wish, marketers will steer brands elsewhere. There's too many other options in 2015. So test these best practices for Q1 and into Q2, and if the results are not what you want, then head down to option three...
3. Focus More on Other Platforms for Social Media Marketing
Even though Facebook is the most popular and probably most used platform; you have options. For instance, Instagram is becoming a hit with the younger crowd, and Pinterest is great for driving sales. You definitely should still maintain a presence on Facebook but don’t spend all of your time and energy (and money) there. We’ve seen much success on Instagram and Pinterest with many of our brands. We also predict LinkedIn making a comeback in 2015. Twitter is a great place to share news. Just because these platforms exist, doesn’t mean you have to be on all of them. Be selective and use your time wisely.
Now that you know why Facebook isn't performing the way you want it to, it's time to set out and decide how you want to use the platform in your social media strategy this year. Are you going to pay to make sure your message is reaching the right audience? Are you going to focus more on posting with Facebook's best practices and see if that increases your reach? Or are you ready to explore other avenues?
Have questions on social media or want to learn about how to create a strategy that works? Then contact us today and let's get social. Give us a call at 855-472-1892 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.