Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Facebook’s Organic Reach Decline: How to Respond

What can you do about plummeting Facebook post reach?

Facebook's organic reach decline: What you can do
Brands that use Facebook for marketing have seen a sharp drop in engagement. The tight-lipped social network acknowledged as much in a leaked sales deck obtained by TechCrunch in December that included this statement: “We expect organic distribution of an individual page’s posts to gradually decline over time as we continually work to make sure people have a meaningful experience on the site.” Coupled with recent changes to the news feed algorithm, marketers are finding it harder and harder to generate organic buzz. 

Organic reach has been a sore subject for brands since late 2012. In November of that year, Facebook restricted brand content reach to about 16%. Then in a December, 2013 blog post, the company said it would begin to place more articles from publishers in the news feed and that it would favor “high quality articles” over “the latest meme”. According to a Social@Ogilvy report that analyzed over 100 brand pages, Facebook organic reach was around 6% in February, 2014 — a decline of 49% from October. For brands with more than 500,000 likes, the fall-off was much steeper, with reach dropping to about 2%. Facebook has told marketers that they should consider paid distribution “to maximize delivery” of their messages in news feed. Translation: You must pay to play.

Average organic reach of content published on Facebook
How does Facebook determine what shows up in a news feed?

No one really knows for sure how Facebook decides what appears in news feeds, but some elements are well known as weighting factors:
  • Post types that receive the most user interaction
  • Posts that users hide or report as spam
  • How a user interacts with Facebook ads
  • The device that is used to access Facebook and the speed of its connection
Facebook engineer Lars Backstrom has said that Edgerank is dead and that Facebook’s news feed algorithm now employs almost 100,000 weight factors. But Edgerank is still part of the mix. As I wrote in a post last year, Edgerank consists of 3 primary factors:
  • Affinity: The closeness of the relationship between the user and the content/source
  • Weight: The action that was taken on the content
  • Decay: The freshness of the content
Facebook EdgeRank Algorithm Equation

4 steps to overcoming Facebook’s post reach decline

In light of these developments, it is vital to take some steps to recover the digital reach that your brand has lost due to Facebook’s changing algorithm. The team at Offerpop, a social marketing platform that enables users to create and launch Twitter and Facebook campaigns, compiled the infographic below to illustrate at a high level how brands can combat Facebook’s reach decline by revamping their digital strategy.

1. Optimize Facebook post performance: Facebook reach has dropped to 2% for large brands

  • Test a variety of types of Facebook content — status updates, photos, videos, and links — and monitor their impact.
  • Track click-through traffic and sales from social campaigns with Google Analytics.
  • To optimize content performance, drill down to the time of day you’re most likely to get the most shares, likes, and engagement.

2. Ignite content sharing: 84% of consumers say that word-of-mouth is their most trusted source

  • Create promotions that incentivize sharing. People love passing along great offers to their friends.
  • Run photo contests to increase shares and votes.
  • Partner with influencers and brands to share your posts and campaigns.

3. Go beyond Facebook and embrace a multi-network campaign strategy: 88% of marketers believe that they will be key to message delivery in the next 3 years

  • Run hashtag campaigns that broaden reach across multiple networks.
  • Promote your campaign hashtag across all of your channels — TV, direct mail, radio, television, digital ads, etc.
  • Embed your hashtag campaigns on your website to increase visibility and participation.

4. Tap into social data: Gain insight into your audience’s interest and use that data to improve your marketing performance

  • Retarget campaign participants with ad pixels.
  • Capture contact data for email and direct followup.
  • Collect user-generated content for marketing and merchandising.
  • Track social click-throughs and on-site activity for all of your social channels.
How to survive the Facebook reach decline