If you manage a Facebook Page, you might be a little bit frustrated. Anyone who manages a Facebook Page has either heard about Facebook’s organic reach decline or experienced its aftermath first hand.
All of this buzz about “organic reach decline” simply means brand Page posts are becoming less visible in Fans’ News Feeds, which means fewer clicks, comments, and shares. And fewer of those interactions mean fewer conversions, leads, and customers. Understandably, this has annoyed the managers of brand Pages big and small all over the world.
But you don’t have to stay frustrated. Here’s the inside scoop on what changes have actually taken place and how your brand can adapt.
Why Are Marketers Disappointed?
Prior to 2012, marketers had it pretty darn good on Facebook despite frequent redesigns and News Feed algorithm changes to adapt to. From the moment “Fan Pages” launched in 2007, anyone could create a Page for their company or organization, start collecting Fans, and post unlimited messages to their fan bases with the assumption that they would see those messages.
When the latter part of 2012 rolled around, though, Page managers learned that only a fraction of their Facebook Fans — 16% on average, to be exact &*#8212; were seeing their Page posts in their News Feeds, and that fraction has only gotten smaller and smaller since.
As Facebook has evolved into more of a paid marketing platform than an organic one, Page managers are realizing they’re now expected to pay for ads yet again to reach those newly acquired Fans, even if those Fans have seemingly elected to see a brand’s posts by liking their Page in the first place.
James Del, head of Gawker’s content studio, summed up the general sentiment to Digiday: “Facebook may be pulling off one of the most lucrative grifts of all time; first, they convinced brands they needed to purchase all their Fans and Likes — even though everyone knows you can’t buy love; then, Facebook continues to charge those same brands money to speak to the Fans they just bought.”
Not only are brands irritated that they’re having to pay a second time to reach their audiences on Facebook; but they’re becoming more skeptical of Facebook as an advertising partner overall. There’s speculation among brands like Eat24, Fstoppers, and Veritasium that paying for new Likes through Facebook ads yields the same results as if paid for through a click farm. When a fan base gets crowded with illegitimate Fans, per-post engagement also plummets. After all, the fake Fans don’t like the Page to interact with the brand’s content — they’re there to make a few bucks off clicking buttons.
At the same time Facebook is steering Page managers toward advertising, buzz about the above experiments has led to a lack of confidence in the effectiveness of Facebook ads even though both experiments only tested one ad type geared toward Fan acquisition.
On top of declining organic reach and rising doubt in ad effectiveness, Facebook advertising is also getting more expensive. In the fourth quarter of 2013, Nanigans, a Facebook advertising automation platform, found that the per-impression cost of Facebook ads tripled and cost-per-click rose 35% year-over-year.
It’s no wonder some marketers have a bone to pick with the $168 billion company … but those stats only tell half of the story.
On the other hand, the platform’s advertising options and targeting capabilities have improved dramatically over the last few years to boost effectiveness and ROI for many advertisers, which obviously nobody’s complaining about. Lots of marketers are getting fantastic results from Facebook ads — one of them earning a whopping 35X return on investment.
In a report from Nanigans, the company upheld the effectiveness of Facebook advertising by saying that:
“At the core of Facebook’s advertising success is the company’s commitment to product innovation. From desktop, mobile, creative, and targeting, to optimization and reporting, Facebook continues to build and improve, creating a more relevant experience for users and enhanced performance for advertisers.”
All of these platform improvements have allowed Facebook to grow ad sales by 72%, increase its share of the digital advertising market, grow revenue-per-user by 33%, and further the transition from an experimental ad buy to an essential one.
Whether you personally feel failed by Facebook or not, keep in mind that there’s a valid counterargument to the “Facebook Fraud” argument popularized by Veritasium and BBC, and plenty of avid supporters who attribute a good deal of new business to their Facebook advertising efforts. Not to mention, success often boils down to what you advertise and how well you craft and target your ads.
And, of course, Facebook has their own explanation for why organic reach is declining and how that actually benefits advertisers.