Facebook Again Explains Why Organic Page Reach Is Falling, But Will That Satisfy Marketers?

Stop me if you’ve heard this before: Marketers are frustrated by plunging organic reach on Facebook Pages. Pages formerly accustomed to percentage per fan reach in the mid-teens are seeing low single digits.

Facebook gets it. So today Brian Boland, Facebook’s vice president of ads product marketing, posted a detailed explanation of why reach is falling and why marketers, businesses and other social publishers shouldn’t give up on the platform. Facebook has tried to explain before, but Boland’s FAQ post is the most complete rundown the company has offered. You can read it in full here, but we’ll address some of the more interesting answers below.

Why Is Reach Falling?

Much of Boland’s explanation is a rehash of previous details that will be familiar to anyone following the issue closely. It’s tougher to reach Facebook users for free because there’s more competition in the News Feed. There are more people on Facebook, sharing more with surge in use of mobile devices. They have more friends and they have liked more pages (the total number of pages a typical user has liked has grown 50% in the last year, Boland said.)

An average user could see 1,500 updates — from friends, family and Pages he has liked — each time she signs on and Facebook’s picks about 300 to show based on an algorithm engineered for maximum relevance to her.

Why Not Show It All In Real Time?

Boland pointed out that with a real-time feed, used by “several other online feed platforms,” users often miss stories that are important to them. There’s just too much information to process from an up-to-the-minute hose. Reach, Boland said, would drop further with a real-time feed.

In our tests, we’ve always found that the News Feed ranking system offers people a better, more engaging experience on Facebook. Additionally, given the amount of content in the average News Feed, using a real-time system for content would actually cause Pages’ organic reach to decrease further.

Is Facebook Just Greedy?

No, Boland said. Facebook’s primary goal is to provide its users the best content so they remain active and engaged. Such users are more likely to interact with content from businesses.

The Value Of A Like

Among the strongest complaints from marketers is that Facebook has pulled a bait and switch with Page likes. They paid Facebook to help gain more likes that now seem worthless. Naturally, Boland disagreed:

Fans make your ads more effective. When an ad has social context — in other words, when a person sees their friend likes your business — your ads drive, on average, 50% more recall and 35% higher online sales lift.

Fans also make the ads you run on Facebook more efficient in our ads auction. Ads with social context are a signal of positive quality of the ad, and lead to better auction prices.

You can use insights about your fans — like where they live, and their likes and interests — to inform decisions about reaching your current and prospective customers

Fans can give your business credibility

So, How Should I Use Facebook For My Business?

Publish great content, Boland wrote, content “that teaches people something, entertains them, makes them think, or in some other way adds value to their lives.” But don’t depend on viral hits because they rarely correspond with a business’s core goals. And supplement the content plan with advertising.

Like TV, search, newspapers, radio and virtually every other marketing platform, Facebook is far more effective when businesses use paid media to help meet their goals. Your business won’t always appear on the first page of a search result unless you’re paying to be part of that space. Similarly, paid media on Facebook allows businesses to reach broader audiences more predictably, and with much greater accuracy than organic content.

Will The Explanation Satisfy Marketers?

It depends. The fact that Facebook decided to post such a detailed response is telling and probably a sign that the issue isn’t going away and the comments on the post are mixed but more negative than positive. Here are two that sum up the two sides.

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Related Topics: Channel: Social Media Marketing | Facebook | Facebook: Marketing | Facebook: News Feed | Social Media Marketing | Top News

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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+.

Connect with the author via: Email | Twitter | Google+



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  • Hardik Dangar

    What i believe is there algorithms have really broke the Facebook. this namo company who manages ads for FB in your streams has created huge advt in your fb feed which is much more of a problem + all this social marketing gurus telling all page owner to engage your audience via games or questions and post x times has created so much fb spam that people are literally tired of it.

    If you want to expermient yourself something create lists of your close friends and then view those lists and your timeline you will totally diffrent timeline. to generate revenue FB has completely gone nuts and pollute timeline so much its no more releavance. I and many of my friends have felt the same way as we come to social networks to know about each other but some idiot marketing company’s fresh dumpy idea is given more priority then my friends update and its not showen to me then its not social network any more.

  • http://www.evemilano.com/ Giovanni Sacheli

    In my personal opinion, I would like to have the control of my stream and decide if a source is good for me or not. If I see my stream with 1.500 updates… so I will remove some like or simply mute someone, it is not that hard… Maybe in FB they think we are assholes… I don’t like that an algorithm or someone else does it for me. That’s it

  • http://www.keshkesh.com/ Takeshi Young

    The explanation makes sense, but is no less frustrating to marketers. Facebook is a difficult platform to drive sales as it is, and now companies are finding the value of the fans they money acquiring going down. Why should marketers & businesses spend money on acquiring fans if they don’t even see the content that’s posted? The benefit of fans needs to be clearer for people to continue to invest in the platform.

  • http://www.willcollection.com WillCollection

    Maybe an option for users to tell fb include posts frm this page to my newsfeed.

  • Milan Kuruc Preceda

    SOLUTION: Facebook should just provide an option for each user to choose if their want to see posts on their wall filtered by fb algorithm or they want to see all posts in real time.

  • http://www.elirose.com/ Liz

    Facebook can claim whatever it wants, but it *deliberately* turned down Reach. There were plenty of pages that always focused on original, high-quality content, and consistently achieved 10-30% organic Reach. But now those same pages are getting 1-2%.

  • http://www.elirose.com/ Liz

    Agreed. Spend money on gaining new fans…just to have MORE people who don’t see your content? Makes no sense.

  • RyanMJones

    how can I say this bluntly? In the early days of facebook lots of brands bought likes, or had contests (against the TOS by the way) that required you to like them on facebook in order to win. Contest seekers and bought likes don’t engage. It’s these brands that are seeing the biggest hurt now because most of their likes and followers weren’t really interested in the brand anyway.

  • http://jumixdesign.com JumixDesign

    I always share content that is helpful and knowledge sharing but I keep see a great declining in my organic post reach.
    Facebook is making it more frustrating for marketers, and soon all will just quit.

  • http://prostart.me/ Dinesh Agarwal

    You can’t use ads to buy fans. You don’t have to show your ads to your fans only. Using professional marketers’ tools such as Fan Harvest you can easily target a large set of people without spending big bucks. You might or might not get more fans from these campaigns but you are going to get sales. That is what matters.

  • http://InfluxStrategies.com/ Influx Strategies

    Its just not the platform for you… time to explore Google+

  • http://www.krishtechnolabs.com/ Krish TechnoLabs

    Each platforms do have their limitations and advantages and as a business your success depends how much advantages you can accumulate from these social sites.

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