Earlier this month, Facebook noted that pages could see a decrease in organic reach as a result of News Feed algorithm tweaks that favor newsworthy posts. However, many marketers and Facebook page admins are reporting that they’re seeing an extreme drop in organic reach — as much as 44 percent in some cases — and it has been going on for months.
Facebook irked many marketers and page admins in that announcement by saying that they can make up the difference in reach by advertising or boosting posts. People who manage Facebook page expected some kind of drop in reach, but for many pages, the decrease in non-paid reach has been sever.
Komfo, a social marketing firm, studied fan penetration among 5,000 Facebook pages of various sizes from August through November with the following findings:
- 42% decrease in fan penetration
- 31% increase in viral amplification
- 28% increase in clickthrough rate (CTR)
Komfo Marketing Manager Anna Jorgenson spoke with Inside Facebook, coming to the conclusion that these results mean there’s no more free rides when it comes to Facebook marketing. Just like marketing through other avenues takes some spending, the same applies to Facebook.
The company blogged about the results of the study:
In Komfo we do not doubt that the survey shows that there is no “free lunch” on Facebook anymore, and companies have to start investing in Facebook advertising if they want to reach the right audience with their content.
However, it also shows that the Facebook’s algorithms, that control what we see in our newsfeed, have been improved. Facebook has become better at showing a page’s content to the most engaged users.
Jim Tobin, President of Ignite Social Media, also saw significant drops in organic reach. In a study of 689 posts of 21 large brand pages found that in the week of Facebook’s announcement, organic reach dipped an average of 44 percent. Tobin pointed out that the previously accepted reach percentage of 16 percent can now be as low as 3 percent.
In Ignite’s study, only 1 brand page had an uptick in reach and only 2 pages saw an increase in engaged users.
With brands investing over $6 billion with Facebook, it seems unlikely to me that this algorithm change was designed to intentionally punish content produced by brands. It would be unwise to do that, because the appeal of Facebook to brands is the mix of organic and paid exposure.
Facebook is right to adjust the algorithm, as the user experience on the site is suffering. But those changes should be based on the strength of the content, not on blanket rules based on a suspicion that everyone suddenly wants to see more news articles in their feed.
We have provided our data to Facebook and they are looking into it. Our hope is that other brands seeing this sort of performance problem will share it with their representatives and that this mistake is quickly corrected. Facebook has been changing the newsfeed fairly rapidly in recent months, and I’m optimistic that this is an unintended consequence of these adjustments.
This does, however, come at a difficult time for brands and agencies. Many companies are finalizing strategies, goals and budgets for 2014, and having a dramatic change in Facebook performance at this point in the year complicates those processes.
Readers: Have you seen a major dip in organic reach this month?
Top image courtesy of Shutterstock.