There’s a growing chatter out there about Facebook’s decision to decrease the “organic reach” that business pages get. Let’s stop for a moment and clarify what “organic reach” is referring to:
When a business page posts something, that post only appears in the feed for a small percentage of their fan base (the people who have “liked” the company). So if WordJack has 3,000 people who like our page, and I post a comment that appears in only 30 people’s feeds, that post got 1% organic reach.
This is the maximum exposure you get without paying. About a year ago (Sep.-Dec. 2013), we analysed over 1,300 Facebook posts from about 30 of our clients’ pages. Back then, average reach per page ranged from 2%-20% (average of 9.8%) for each page in that 4-month period. So it’s fair to say that even 12-18 months ago, organic reach was not sky high.
But Facebook continues to publicly communicate that they are reducing the reach pages get without paying. The main gist of their messages (summarized by me, as impartially as I can!):
- There are too many posts (stories) flying around on Facebook, and they need a way to prioritize the stories to show people the ones that are most important to them.
- As part of this prioritization, Facebook will more heavily favour posts from friends and decreasingly favour posts from pages (companies/organizations).
- To increase the audience that businesses can reach on Facebook, they will need to pay for ads.
So where does that leave you as a business owner?
I grabbed some data from the Facebook pages of 10 businesses that WordJack manages marketing for. I’m comparing each business’ total like count and daily reach for Dec & Jan 2015, and comparing it to their likes and daily reach in the same 60-day period a year earlier:
Here are a few questions I think this data can help clarify:
Is organic reach dead?
NO – Otherwise you would see zeroes in the “daily organic reach” column for 2015. There is still plenty of evidence that a business that posts once or twice a week reaches an audience. Look at business 8 reaching 77 people each day and business 6 reaching 746 each day
Is organic reach declining?
YES – Look at business 1. They reached 7 people a day from their base of 738 fans. So they didn’t quite reach 1 person each day per 100 fans. Compare that to a year ago when they were reaching almost 11 people per 100 fans
Has the money/effort spent on growing page likes been wasted?
HOPEFULLY NOT – You have probably reached a lot of people in that time, and based on these numbers, you are still able to reach a set of them. But those likes are certainly a depreciating asset. Let me put it this way – if you gave me the choice of 10 opted-in customers on my email list or 100 more customers who like my Facebook page, I’d take the emails!
Is it worth continuing to spend money/effort on getting more LIKES to my page?
PROBABLY NOT – But this depends on how the above numbers look for your business. Look at business 8– they can reach 7-8 more people each day for each 100 likes they get. If those likes are coming cheap/free, then it may be viable. But I think for a lot of businesses, this is not going to be a cost-effective marketing strategy
Is this the end of Facebook as a marketing channel for small business?
NO – But it does require you to change the way you use Facebook and critique it differently.
- As long as those organic daily reach numbers are decent, keep talking to your fans.
- If you feel like your fan base is a better targeted group of people than any group you could profile using FB ad targeting, then you could “pay to reach your own fans” with paid ads.
- You could switch your use of Facebook to being just another ad network. If your target audience can be better defined by demographics (like 25-35 year old females who like basketball) rather than what they search for in places like Google, then Facebook may be a good ad network to use. But you’ll want to look at the quality of the traffic they deliver – do they result in the actions/goals you are looking for in your visitors?
- And finally, don’t forget a Facebook page is still a valuable citation and a place where your brand is represented. So be mindful about how your business is portrayed there.
This Facebook change is more of a trend, so each business might have a slightly different take on these 5 questions. Our WordJack marketing managers are working with each of their clients to determine the best role for Facebook in their marketing in 2015. I’d recommend all local businesses consider these shifts and re-evaluate how they can best use Facebook for their marketing this year.
WordJack Media provides a wide range of website design and online marketing solutions to clients throughout Canada and the US, including Collingwood ON, Ottawa ON, Barrie ON, Miami FL, Lakeland FL, Orlando FL, Charlotte NC, Hickory NC, Asheville NC and more. Contact WordJack Media today for more information about how we can help your business win on the web!