Marketers and brands are having a hard time gaining visibility on Facebook, and it’s only been getting tougher, thanks to the social network’s subtly changing algorithms. Since 2012, Facebook has been restricting the ability of pages to get organic reach, and promoting their pay-to-play strategy. This makes sense for Facebook as a business, because having brands pay for top-tier advertising is obviously better for them, but anyone who doesn’t shell out the money is going struggle against those that do, and it will only get worse. According to Ogilvy, organic reach has been plunging since October, and in all probability will hit zero sometime in the near future.
With the most recent update to the Facebook news feed that rolled out over the past week, an algorithm hidden under the mostly cosmetic changes has resulted in a decrease in the visibility of shared links, pictures, and videos. Since the update, most Facebook pages have seen a marked decline in total reach.
After initially denying the drops in reach numbers, Facebook has now stated plainly that they expect organic reach to continue to fall. In a sales deck sent out to their partners, the social media giant is quoted as saying: “We expect organic distribution of an individual page's posts to gradually decline over time as we continually work to make sure people have a meaningful experience on the site.” The article by Ad Age also claims that Facebook encourages marketers to consider paid distribution to “maximize delivery of [their] message in news feed.”
So what should marketers do about this? It seems that Facebook is transitioning from a free word-of-mouth service to a generic advertising service, and brands need to step up their marketing game on Facebook, or start getting comfortable with paid ads.