The Drop In Facebook Page Reach Is All About The Competition

One key reason that Facebook Pages are reaching fewer of their fans with posts: the number of Pages Liked by the average Facebook user has increased by more than 50% in the last year.

That statistic, provided by Will Cathcart, Facebook’s News Feed director of product management, in a recent interview with Josh Constine of TechCrunch, is a plausible explanation for the approximate 50% drop in organic Page reach per fan in the last six months, illustrated in this chart from EdgeRank Checker:

organic reach

Constine’s detailed explanation of how Facebook determines what to show in users’ News Feeds is excellent and worth a read, not because it presents new information but because it’s a well-framed reminder of the challenges of marketing on a platform designed for friend-to-friend interaction.

Facebook’s scale (more than 1.25 billion active users worldwide) and popularity (the average U.S. user spends seven hours a month on the network) give it the deepest pool of data in the social media universe. And to keep users coming back, Facebook must continue working to filter and display the interesting bits from the not so relevant.

To do that Facebook says its algorithm looks at 100,000 different indicators of importance. The main factors?

How popular (Liked, commented on, shared, clicked) are the post creator’s past posts with everyone

How popular is this post with everyone who has already seen it

How popular have the post creator’s past posts been with the viewer

Do the type of post (status update, photo, video, link) match what types have been popular with the viewer in the past

How recently was the post published

Because of increased competition, marketers are having a tougher time pushing into this organic stream. And when Facebook proposes that they pay to promote a post to reach more people, many marketers grow frustrated. Why should we have to pay for access to a fan base that we used to be able to reach for free? This anger led one business, Eat24, to delete its 70,000-Liked Facebook Page this week.

I don’t think giving up on Facebook is a wise move for marketers. It’s too big an audience to ignore. It’s in Facebook’s interest to reward content that is compelling to its users and the smart marketers will continue to study how to reach them.

Related Topics: Channel: Social Media Marketing | Facebook | Facebook: News Feed | Facebook: Pages | Features & Analysis | Social Media Marketing

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About The Author: is Third Door Media's Social Media Correspondent, reporting on the latest news for Marketing Land and Search Engine Land. He spent 24 years with the Los Angeles Times, serving as social media and reader engagement editor from 2010-2014. A graduate of UC Irvine and the University of Missouri journalism school, Beck started started his career at the Times as a sportswriter and copy editor. Follow Martin on Twitter (@MartinBeck), Facebook and/or Google+.

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  • Larry Moniz

    Really? All I see are people who’ve decided Facebook is a monumental waste of time and effort and a significant (but very subtle) invasion of members privacy. I cancelled after realizing I was spending 10 hours or more per week with idle chit-chat with people I’ve never met and/or had no real interest in learning what they ate, where they went of vacation or what kind of animals they liked. In addition, I found Facebook to be mind-numbing rather than stimulating. If I want to have my mind-numbed, I’d prefer a stiff drink to to a moronic political chat-any day.

  • http://rhenwilson.com/ Rhen Wilson

    This data in no way justifies limiting the organic reach of Pages. If users have truly likes these Pages through choice, then Facebook owes it to its user to ensure they see all updates from these Pages. If, over time, the users decide they don’t like the Pages’ content, it should be the users’ choice to unlike the Page, not Facebook’s choice to hide the Page altogether.

    I write about this more in depth on my blog if anyone’s interested: http://www.rhenwilson.com/2014/04/facebooks-meaningful-experience-has.html

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