In June of 2014, Facebook answered some questions that many business owners had about Facebook Pages. Specifically, they confirmed that the organic reach of Facebook Pages was less than before. They were throttling how many people could see your posts.
These changes to the Facebook algorithm were rolled out to personal accounts as well as Fan Pages. (An algorithm is a formula that filters results and decides what to show. Search engines use their own algorithms to rank search results.)
These changes were made because Facebook wanted to only show users posts from people or Pages that they seemed to engage with. The result is stories published on your Facebook Page will only reach about 20% of the audience it did in 2013. Well — unless you pay Facebook to boost the visibility of specific posts, that is.
The Illusion of Permanance
A 2014 surveys shows that half of all small business have no website, even though small businesses account for 54% of sales in the US. At least a portion of these businesses are reliant on a Facebook Page to be a stand-in for a website. While this gives business owners a URL to point to when customers want more information, last year’s changes hurt businesses who were relying on Facebook for discovery or reaching existing customers.
In the long run, relying on Facebook to be a proxy website is more harmful than beneficial.
Facebook Pages have less reach than they did just a couple of years ago. Most businesses are only reaching 20% of their Page followers compared to 100% in 2013.
Yes, even with the Fans they paid to acquire. Yes, even with the Fans they have had for several years.
Business owners who hitched their marketing efforts to Facebook have a very serious publishing problem. They also have an OPP problem.
The Problem With OPP
No, I’m not talking about this OPP — I’m talking about publishing on Other People’s Platforms.
Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and all the other social networks are free because their business model is to grow big first, and make money once they have the user base. The investors that funded Facebook are looking for a return on their investment, so it’s time for them to make that money back. The payback for a social network model almost always comes in the form of advertising.
In 2014, people who had gone all-in with Facebook Fan Pages started noticing the reach of those Facebook Pages dropping faster than a skydiver without a parachute. Some of these businesses had paid a lot of money in order to build their fan base on Facebook, and here they were learning that in order to keep reaching those Fans, they’d have to keep paying Facebook.
Understandably, they were pissed. But this is the danger of building your business on someone else’s platform. They own the platform, they make the rules. And they can change those rules at any time, and there’s nothing you can do about it except continue to play by their rules.
The only platform you can control is your own. That’s why it’s so important to make your website the hub of your business operations, and use Facebook and other social platforms as supplementary ways of reaching customers. This is why it is important to build your email list — so you can always reach your customers without having to play by someone else’s rules.
It’s a precarious situation to be in — where a third-party platform can devastate your business overnight. If you take nothing else away from this, take a new-found commitment to control the destiny of your business. Don’t let Facebook or any other platform wreck your plans.
So…Are You Telling Me To Ditch Facebook?
I’m definitely not saying ditch social media or burn your Facebook Page to the ground, because you will still reach people there. What I am saying is realize that platforms will change, and you have to keep your eyes open for when that happens. Don’t put all your marketing efforts into a third-party platform without fortifying your ownplatform.
Reaching Your Facebook Fans Without Spending Money
The only thing that will keep people seeing your Page Timeline is if they continue to engage with it (liking posts, leaving comments, sharing on their Timeline). These tell the Facebook algorithm that those people want to stay connected to your Page. As always, deliver the best content you can, on Facebook and everywhere.
Outside of that, you’ll have to have some sort of advertising fund to boost the reach of your posts.
Reaching People On Facebook By Spending Money
If you’re willing to spend money on Facebook advertising, one thing you might want to check out is Facebook dark posts. Not many people know about dark posts right now, but that’s bound to change soon.
If you’ve been used to running contests through your Facebook Page in order to grow your audience, you should be aware of the eminent changes coming to the Facebook Pages algorithm. Pages that exist purely to get users to install an app, run promotions without context, or use the same content in their posts and their ads will see their engagement drop as well. If you are worried that your Page might violate these guidelines, be sure to check out the original article from Facebook.
It&’s exhausting to keep up with changes to platforms that you don’t control. Once you get used to doing things a certain way, these outside platforms seem to change the rules on you. Remember to always make your website the crown jewel in your marketing efforts. You will always have control over what people see on your own website.