If you have been paying attention to your Facebook numbers in the past week or so, you probably noticed that they have gone down – way down.
My organic reach – that is, the posts I don’t pay for, have dropped by more than 50 percent. What’s up with that?
On Dec. 5, Facebook announced that it was changing its algorithm – again – to show people the right content at the right time.
This is how Facebook explains it:
People are connecting and sharing more than ever. On a given day, when someone visits News Feed, there are an average of 1,5001 possible stories we can show.
As a result, competition for each News Feed story is increasing. Because the content in News Feed is always changing, and we’re seeing more people sharing more content, Pages will likely see changes in distribution. For many Pages, this includes a decline in organic reach. We expect this trend to continue as the competition for each story remains strong and we focus on quality.
As the dynamic nature of News Feed continues to follow people’s patterns of sharing, Page owners should continue using the most effective strategy to reach the right people: a combination of engaging Page posts and advertising to promote your message more broadly. Advertising lets Pages reach the fans they already have and find new customers as well. The fans you have matter. In addition to being some of the most loyal customers, fans also make the advertising on Facebook even more effective.
Ultimately, what’s good for people on Facebook is good for the businesses that use Facebook to reach and engage them. One of the ways we maintain a good balance between the two is by making sure News Feed is as interesting and timely as possible. We’ll continue to provide updates about how News Feed works, so stay tuned.
More news — fewer memes
Facebook’s goal is to incorporate more news articles and current events and to downplay memes, according to Varun Kacholia, engineering manager, and Minwin Ji, software engineer, writing on the Facebook blog. Facebook wants to be the place to go to stay up-to-date on what’s happening. A Pew Research study released in October found that 30% of adults in the U.S. get their news on Facebook. Facebook is competing with Twitter to be the social network of choice for news consumption.
Facebook has been reducing the number of fans/friends who saw your posts since it began using EdgeRank in 2006. EdgeRank, based on the factors of affinity (how close is the relationship between the user and the content/source?), weight (what type of action was taken on the content?) and decay (how recent/current is the content?) was replaced with an algorithm with as many as 100,000 factors. In August 2013, Facebook said that EdgeRank was officially dead, and its News Feed algorithm was based on machine learning.
As Facebook has gradually reduced its organic sharing of posts, it has been pushing brands toward its advertising as an alternative way of getting more eyes on posts. Originally Facebook only offered the standard ad on the right-hand side of the screen that asked people to “like” your page and directed them to either your page or your website. Then Facebook began offering sponsored stories, a type of ad generated from fans’ interactions with your Facebook page. The ad includes your friend’s profile picture and gives and overview of the friend’s recent action with your page, such as a like or comment, and then shows it as an ad to his/her friends.
The other post-related advertising includes the page post or promoted post (also called “boosting” a post). This option allows you to use a recent post on your page to act as an ad. It could be anything – a video, link or an event. Your Facebook page’s name is the title and the body of the ad is the content. I have personally used this several times for blog posts and saw engagement with a post skyrocket. For $30 each, I received a reach of nearly 5,000 with one ad and 5,700 with a second.
Three rules: quality, quality, quality
Obviously, Facebook is a business and has to make a profit to stay in business. I suppose the question that remains is how much more can Facebook change its algorithm to reduce the sharing of organic posts and still call itself a “social” media? When will people decide that the time it takes to post to Facebook just isn’t worth the effort?
While Facebook isn’t saying exactly how this new algorithm works, it is clear that producing top-quality material for posting on Facebook is a must to compete with media outlets. The algorithm does include an updated bumping feature that means your rank on the page is affected by factors such as:
- How often you interact with the friend, page, or public figure (like an actor or journalist) who posted
- The number of likes, shares and comments a post receives from the world at large and from your friends in particular
- How much you have interacted with this type of post in the past
- Whether or not you and other people across Facebook are hiding or reporting a given post
That means if you are creating quality content and getting likes, comments and shares, your posts should continue to get viewed by more people.
The bottom line, once again, comes down to consistency and quality. You must create high-quality content over and over again, and you probably are going to have to spend some money on Facebook advertising if you want your content to be viewed by more than a handful of people. Facebook’s model is built on advertising rather than membership, and until that changes (it won’t), that’s just the way it is.
Photo: by stoneysteiner