Facebook: pay to play or walk away?

Whether you’ve seen it trending on social media or you’re a small start-up running your own page, you’ve probably noticed that Facebook’s organic reach for business has been on the serious decline. This is thanks to a new algorithm that the social media giant is using to filter what shows up on your fans’ home page. 

According to Facebook, this comes as a result of a huge increase in ‘liked’ pages (by more than 50% last year), which simply means there isn’t enough newsfeed space to go around. While some have called bullsh*t on Facebook’s rationale (can’t a newsfeed just scroll forever? The internet is infinite after all), you’re probably going to see some unhappy stats on your posts unless you switch to paid advertising whether you like it or not. If this isn’t an option, then it might be time to weigh up whether Facebook is worth the time and effort it takes to maintain a good looking page. Considering the follow questions will help to decide what role Facebook will play in your future marketing model.

Why am I using Facebook?

Each social media channel you use to connect with your audience should be unique. It should be framed around a specific purpose and do something that your other social media channels cannot. For Prevision, our page is a way of staying connected to our local networks while we’re based overseas. It’s less about reaching out to thousands of new fans, and more focused on maintaining our audience back home. For this reason, a small reach is less important. Before you start freaking out that your message isn’t getting across, think about who you actually want to speak to, and why. It might be that engaging with thousands of users on each post isn’t really that important; it’s enough that you’re there, active and have the information people are looking for.

Is there something out there that’s going to work better?

Facebook still works well for a lot of things. If you are a restaurant or café, and people can check in and generate their own content for your page, then it’s still probably one of the strongest platforms you can use, organic decline or no. However, if you’re working on a particular social campaign, promoting an event, or trying to extend your professional networks, then there might be other platforms that do it better. Twitter has now overtaken Facebook as the most popular social network, and if you’re trying to reach out people in a similar industry to you, it’s a far stronger platform. Similarly, LinkedIn is superior for building linkages with other businesses and professionals. The key is to think about where your audience is, and what platform is best equipped to engage them. The more integrated your marketing strategy with numerous social platforms, the better your results will be.

How highly do I value my time?

If you still think Facebook it something you can’t live without, and the reality is that for most business, it is still the best option around, then you need to consider how much time you are going to invest in it for the rewards. There’s no point spending hours crafting content that is falling on deaf ears; you’re better off investing in other platforms that are working well for you, such as your website or face-to-face networking. If you’re pushing out content across multiple platforms and it’s simply a matter of popping it on Facebook too, then perhaps it’s not such a big deal.

How can I make the most of my Facebook page?

A decline in organic reach still doesn’t change the fact that good content is key. How many newsfeeds your post will show up in will depend on:

  • How popular (as in liked, shared, clicked or commented) your past posts have been,
  • How popular a post has been with people who have already seen it,
  • Does the type of post (photo, video, link) match what types have been popular with the viewer in the past,
  • How recently the post was published.

Understanding what drives your audience to connect is thus integral to maximizing your organic reach. Take the time to look back on your most popular posts, and how you can frame your forward strategy around it.

Ultimately, there’s not much you can do about Facebook’s new pay to play business model except adapt or die. What it will require is for you to sit back and assess your strategy based on the new realities of organic reach, which if you’re serious about your business, should already be part of an ongoing marketing process.