Facebook Organic Reach: 5 Facts For Businesses - InformationWeek
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Facebook Organic Reach: 5 Facts For Businesses

Facebook discusses concerns from businesses that have seen a sharp decline in organic reach.

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Ever since Facebook changed its algorithm in December to determine what users see in their news feeds, businesses have complained about a sharp decline in the number of people they reach with their posts.

According to a [email protected] report, organic reach dropped from 16% of followers engaging with a brand page post in 2012 to just 6% in February of this year -- a decline of 49% from peak levels in October. The report advised community managers to expect organic reach to approach zero by the end of this year.

After fielding an onslaught of questions from concerned marketers and businesses over the past several months, Facebook's Brian Bolan, product marketing lead, explained in a blog post the reasoning behind the changes and how marketers should adjust their approach to Facebook to succeed.

"My colleagues and I at Facebook understand that this has been a pain point for many businesses, and we're committed to helping you understand what's driving this change so your business can succeed on Facebook," Bolan said. "We must be more transparent with and helpful to the businesses that market on Facebook. We're working hard to improve our communications about upcoming product changes."

[Facebook's latest privacy changes include welcome improvements. Read Facebook Privacy: 10 Settings To Check.]

Bolan addressed a number of common concerns from businesses, including why organic reach dropped, whether paid-for fans are still valuable, and the role ads play in a page's success. Here's what Facebook had to say.

1. Competition for space in news feeds caused organic reach to drop.
An average of 1,500 posts might appear in a person's news feed each time she logs on to Facebook, Bolan said. If a user has many Facebook friends and likes many pages, this number could reach as high as 15,000 posts. People like more pages than they have in the past; the total number of Pages liked by the typical Facebook user grew by more than 50% last year.

Because competition for space in your news feed is so fierce, Facebook has designed it to show you only the most relevant posts, he said. "Of the 1,500+ stories a person might see whenever they log onto Facebook, news feed displays approximately 300. To choose which stories to show, news feed ranks each possible story from more to less important by looking at thousands of factors relative to each person."

2. Displaying all content in news feeds would cause organic reach to drop further.
Many Facebook users lament that they wish Facebook would show them all the posts in their news feed, and in the most recent order. Facebook said that doing this would actually cause Pages' organic reach to decrease further.

"People only have so much time to consume stories, and people often miss content that isn't toward the top of when they log on," Bolan said. "This

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Kristin Burnham currently serves as InformationWeek.com's Senior Editor, covering social media, social business, IT leadership and IT careers. Prior to joining InformationWeek in July 2013, she served in a number of roles at CIO magazine and CIO.com, most recently as senior ... View Full Bio

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Kristin Burnham
Kristin Burnham,
User Rank: Author
6/11/2014 | 3:37:28 PM
Facebook vs. Twitter
With all the talk about organic reach, I think it's interesting to compare Facebook with Twitter. In Twitter's early years, people complained about the service because it was too crowded and too overwhelming for people to "keep up" with all the information people posted. Twitter never incorporated an algorithm and eventually people became use to the firehose of information and accepted that you're not going to read everything that's there.

Facebook is dealing with the same thing now, but they're taking a different approach by prioritizing what you see in your feed. Do you think it would be more successful if it dropped its algorithms and operated similarly to Twitter, or are algorithms a necessary evil?
Kristin Burnham
Kristin Burnham,
User Rank: Author
6/11/2014 | 3:32:59 PM
Re: Organic Schmanic
I agree, to an extent: While yes, I want to view content from the pages I like, if push came to shove, I'd want to view content from my friends moreso. That's what they're trying to figure out, and that's what they're struggling with. In the meatime, I still sort my feed by Most Recent. I find that's the best way to see everything I want to.
User Rank: Ninja
6/10/2014 | 4:09:01 AM
Organic Schmanic
So Facebook is still peddling its worthless snake oil to unsuspecting/uninformed biz page admins that tired ol' schtick about "organic" reach yadda yadda yadda.  But regardless of what Zuckerberg & co. want to pretend to the contrary, the fact is, when someone likes a page, they tend to want to see content from that page, not the usual litany of irrelevant crap from paid big name sponsors with deep pockets spewed into the feed like so much visual sewage. 
Lorna Garey
Lorna Garey,
User Rank: Author
6/9/2014 | 12:06:00 PM
Re: I still can't decide if...
FB is definitely still figuring it out. Probably 85% of the ads I get are irrelevant, though I can sometimes figure out why the system thinks I might be interested. Maybe they should talk to Amazon, which I use drastically less than FB yet somehow manages to know exactly what to tempt me with.
User Rank: Ninja
6/8/2014 | 3:17:21 PM
Re: I still can't decide if...
The theory of it makes sense--focused, organic marketing basic on FB user past preferences, posts etc. Of all the ads I've ever seen, I've only clicked on 2 that meant something to me.

I recently coached a client on social media. She used an ad company that advertised its services on FB to get more visitors to her Fanpage. Her numbers did shoot up, and then she got a warning from FB that she had too many followers and not enough people she was following. So FB posted the ad company's ad and then chastised her for using it.

So, yes, I agree, it seems like they're still figuring it out....
User Rank: Ninja
6/8/2014 | 9:09:13 AM
I still can't decide if...
Facebook hasn't figured out how to monetize their subscription base or if businesses haven't figured out how to market using social media.  In this case I definitely think it's a combination, but it certainly seems that Facebook is all over the place with figuring it out.  For a social media hub which should know everything there is to know about there members, I don't think I've ever once followed an ad...
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