Before the Fall
In February 2012, Facebook made one of the most impactful changes to its algorithm, and this change has caused mass hysteria for social media marketers and small business owners.
Before 2012, it was pretty easy for brands to reach their audience through social media. The best part? It was free (organic). Early adopters were able to reach between 16% – 20% of their audience every time they pushed a post! Again, for FREE.
And then IT happened.
The Great Organic Reach Decline of 2014
A study from Edgerank Checker found that between February 2012 and March 2014, organic reach for the average Facebook Page dropped from 16% to 6.5%. Research from Social@Ogilvy, meanwhile, suggests that for Pages with more than 500,000 Likes, organic reach could be as low as 2%.
Based on the figures above, that means a Page with 10,000 fans could expect just 650 of them to actually see that Page’s posts in their News Feeds. For a Page with 1 million fans, about 20,000 would see posts.
The Decline In Reach Continues
SocialFlow analyzed more than 3,000 posts by publishers on Facebook and found that organic reach dropped 42% between January and May 2016.
Then, later in 2016, Facebook adjusted its News Feed algorithm again — to further prioritize content from friends and family over Pages. In the blog post announcing the algorithm change, Facebook Engineering Director Lars Backstrom warned that Pages could anticipate a dip in organic reach — which in some cases, could leave reach even lower than that earlier 2% estimate].
After this algorithm adjustment, SocialFlow adjusted the decline in organic reach — which had dropped further. Between January and July 2016, publishers saw a 52% decline in organic reach on Facebook. (Find more stats at Hubspot.com).
You’re seeing the impact of this, right? Fewer people seeing your Page’s organic posts on Facebook means fewer clicks, comments and shares. And having fewer of those interactions means fewer conversions, leads and customers. Understandably, this has annoyed many Facebook Page managers. So why would Facebook decide to decrease organic post visibility in the first place?
Why is Facebook Organic Reach Declining?
There are too many Pages producing too much content for too many fans, which means competition for visibility on the News Feed is high.
What’s more, Facebook is trying to make sure that people are only seeing the best content — the stuff that is relevant to them.
It’s Not Just About Organic; Paid Will Soon Become More Expensive for Reaching Your Audience.
Social media influencer, Mike Steinzler, CEO of Social Media Examiner, and Molly Pitman, DigitalMarketer’s Vice President and Traffic Manager, discussed the state of Facebook organic and paid during a recent interview. You can see the full interview here. Below is a bit of foreshadowing from the conversation:
Mike Stelzner: ….Let’s be honest, Facebook is running out of inventory. By mid-2017, they will have no more inventory for paid advertisers.
Molly Pittman: Yeah.
Mike Stelzner: If there’s no more inventory for paid advertisers, what’s the chances of the organic stuff coming through? Zero.
Molly Pittman: Right, and what’s the chance of your organic posts from a brand Page showing before someone’s actual friend or family member [post] on Facebook, right?
Mike Stelzner: Not going to happen. It’s not going to happen.
What Mike says is absolutely true. Facebook has limited inventory, and although the platform is still signing up new users, the demand for Facebook Ads has skyrocketed.
When demand outpaces supply, what happens to price?
We are not recommending that you stop your Facebook Ads, or that your ads are not effective. To be clear, we believe Facebook Ads are an extremely effective way to reach an audience with a marketing message. DigitalMarketer has a ton of great strategies on Facebook Ads. We use Facebook Ads, too.
However, ads are simply not as effective at starting a conversation as personal interaction. This is why Social Selling has gained momentum.
People want to talk with people, especially in sales and recruiting.
The Most Underused Company Asset: Your Employees’ Networks.
Your employees’ social networks could give your brand significantly more reach when it comes to communicating with your audience. But they’re not.
Do your employees talk about your organization on social media? Do they turn themselves into thought leaders by creating valuable, rich pieces of content? Does your sales team drip content to stay top of mind with buyers? Do your employees reach out to their networks when your company is hiring?
Here’s why this is important.
- 64% of sales teams that use inbound social selling reach their quotas.
- 85% of employees are hired through networking.
The most cost-effective approach for influencing sales deals and attracting top talent is to leverage the networks of your employees and sales reps.
Your Potential Reach
Here’s a great exercise created by Write2Market that describes the power of posting through your employees’ social networks.
1. How many people at your company are on LinkedIn? If you’re not sure, go to LinkedIn, look up your Company in the Search field, and see how many people are listed there as being with your company. That is your active LinkedIn employee population.
2. Multiply the number of employees x 500 to find out the reach of one of your posts if everyone shared it.
500 is the average number of followers a person has on LinkedIn.
3. That equals ______.
4. Now take that big number, and multiply it times .05 x 500. What is that number? _______
That’s how many people you’d reach if the people with whom your employees shared, shared the post. We’re assuming that 5% of your secondary, outside-of-company audience will share it, but feel free to increase this if you feel the content is particularly relevant or exciting. You could also consider multiplying by 200 if you want to simply estimate brand impressions – people seeing your name in the feed.
On June 22, 2017, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerburg announced a revised Facebook mission statement: “To give people the power to build community and bring the world closer together.”
Facebook is going to continue to help users build community on their social media channel. This means it will favor user conversations over brands. If brands want to join the conversation, they will most likely have to pay with Ads. But even that won’t ensure that your audience sees them. Leveraging your company’s employees on social media to amplify your brand message is one of the most effective marketing strategies you can implement right now.