Did Facebook’s Latest Update Just Kill Organic Reach?

Create engaging, useful content and you will be rewarded with viral and organic reach – the ultimate goal of any social media and content marketing strategy. But with Facebook’s latest update, even if your community is interacting with your posts organically you will be reaching far less people.

Last year we wrote about the Demise of Facebook based on a study out of Princeton using disease modeling to understand mass adoption and subsequent decline of Facebook. A year later, Facebook doesn’t seem to be slowing down or going away anytime soon but they have certainly changed the rules of the game.

Below we take a look the most recent changes to Facebook’s algorithms and what it means to brands and organizations trying to build their community. According to Facebook, these changes are in response from the people who use Facebook and what they like and don’t like to see in their News Feed. People sign on to Facebook and look to their News Feeds for the latest updates from family, friends, and brands. And with more and more people using Facebook, the News Feeds is becoming a highly competitive place.

Reducing Overly Promotional Page Posts

This past November Facebook announced they would reduce overly promotional page posts from showing up in the News Feed starting on January 15th. Up until this past January Facebook only controlled the ads a person could see but had not been closely monitoring promotional page posts that were showing up in the News Feed.

According to Facebook, people felt the following make organic posts too promotional:

  1. Posts that use the exact same content as their ads.
  2. Sales focused posts that urge people to buy or install an app.
  3. Sweepstakes with no real context.

Examples of promotional posts provided by Facebook:

Organic Reach Facebook Organic Reach Facebook


Facebook suggests businesses refer to their Page publishing tips and best practices on creating and promoting content. While the tips are useful, if not somewhat generic, the only way to get your campaign or promotion out there with any kind of real reach is through paid advertising or boosting posts.

Balancing Content From Friends and Pages

The most recent News Feed announcement was released quietly a few weeks ago, on the same day marketers and web developers were focused on Google’s roll out of their new mobile friendly algorithm.

While somewhat vague, one key take-away is that when fans of a Page like or comment on a post, their friends are much less likely to see that engagement.

From the Facebook announcement:

“[M]any people have told us they don’t enjoy seeing stories about their friends liking or commenting on a post. This update will make these stories appear lower down in News Feed or not at all, so you are more likely to see the stuff you care about directly from friends and the pages you have liked.”

This feels like it flies in the face of being, well social. If a friend likes or comments on a Page – be it a brand or non-profit – and it shows up in our News Feed, we might be inclined to explore the Page and learn a little bit more about them. Perhaps even follow them. We also know, people tend to trust the brands and services recommended by friends and family. When we see our friends interacting with a page, be it positive or negative, we tend to make opinions based on that interaction.

We expect to see organic reach drop significantly. And this has the potential to be harmful for brands and organizations that don’t have the funds to continually advertised on Facebook or are focused on organic growth with creative engaging posts designed to create a buzz around their products, services, or cause.

There was a time social media leveled the playing field between big brands and small businesses that don’t have deep pockets to compete through buying ads or impressions but that time seems to have passed on Facebook. Yes you still need to create engaging posts and advertisements. Throwing advertising dollars at content that doesn’t resonate with your community still doesn’t work. But the point is – it will cost you if you want to grow on Facebook. And as such, has become less attractive for many small businesses.




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