Question: I’ve noticed that the activity level on my business Facebook page has dropped off considerably, but I haven’t been doing anything different. Did something change with Facebook?
Answer: Many small business owners that have spent years building an audience through Facebook are asking this same question and the answer is YES.
Most businesses have used Facebook to engage with their customers through content that cost nothing to post, because the engagement level was worthwhile.
This is known as “organic reach” and since late last year, it’s been going down steadily as Facebook made adjustments to its algorithms that determine what users see.
A report from Social@Ogilvy claims that organic reach dropped from 16 percent of followers of brand pages in 2012 to just 6 percent in February 2014. They suggest that you should expect organic reach to fall to next to nothing in the near future.
What has always been important was to encourage engagement with the content that you post by getting Likes, Shares or comments in order to stay in the News Feed and this is still the case.
Facebook assumes that if someone is interacting with you, the information that you’re posting is relevant and important to that user.
The problem is that not nearly as many people are even seeing your posts, which is going to lead to a reduction in overall activity and engagement.
Facebook claims that this change is not because they are trying to make businesses ‘pay to play’, it’s because there is so much more information being posted these days.
According to Facebook’s Brian Bolan via a blog post, competition for space in the average users news feeds is causing organic reach to drop.
Bolan writes “On average, there are 1,500 stories that could appear in a person’s News Feed each time they log onto Facebook.”
“Rather than showing people all possible content, News Feed is designed to show each person on Facebook the content that’s most relevant to them. 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.”
Understandably, Facebook won’t share what those thousands of factors are as it’s their ‘secret sauce,’ but predictably, they do suggest that if you buy ads, your reach will be better.
No matter what the explanation, it appears that the free ride is nearly over for businesses that use Facebook as a marketing tool.
You’ll have to decide if it’s worth paying for engagement on Facebook or consider using other social networks that still have decent organic reach potential.
As a general user of Facebook, if you want to improve the chances of seeing posts from pages you care about, you should consider clicking the ‘Unlike’ button on pages that you don’t really engage with.
You can also make it a point to routinely visit pages that you want to see posts from and comment, like or share something to help Facebook’s algorithm understand that this page is important to you.
• Ken Colburn is president of Data Doctors Computer Services and host of the Data Doctors Radio Program, noon Saturdays on KTAR 92.3 FM or at www.datadoctors.com/radio.