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:
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.