There is a downward trend in organic reach on Facebook. If your company has a brand page, research is showing that eventually your organic reach will be zero. Unless, you contribute to the Facebook war chest. Marshal Manson on Social@Ogilvy states organic reach has dropped to 6% which is a 49% decline since October 2013. Keep in mind, when you see "organic" think free. Facebook ads are how they stay in business and answer to their share holders. However, MySpace paid a pretty hefty price when they abandoned their organic community in favor of more paid search environment. Manson asks some poignant question about the future of Facebook.
- How can brands and corporates get the most from Facebook in the future?
- Is Facebook still a driver of “earned” conversation and word of mouth?
- Or is it just a straightforward paid channel?
- How should communities approach content and engagement going forward?
All incredibly valuable considering the impact Facebook has had and how friendly it was for small business in the beginning. The decline started in 2012. In November of 2012, Brand Strategist, Raquel Elle Bell, blogged here experiment in diminishing returns and Facebook's subtle cattle drive to paid placement. Raquel showed her text only post got better exposure than and post with a link. Her conclusion was this, "If I were Facebook I would want to capitalize on that link by forcing a business to purchase ad space to get it seen instead of "Free" advertising that used to be the attraction of Fan pages."
She then goes on to predict, "Facebook will start losing its community due to this and open up the potential for other social media... The worst thing Facebook can do is to disregard its community. That is why they are doing this under the radar..."
Fast forward to 2014 and Social@Ogilvy is calling Facebook out. Forbes is reporting on it saying "the free ride for brands on Facebook is coming to an end." Ewan Space on Forbes says Facebook is creating scarcity and that if they go down this road, they will also need to show results.
This also puts the strain on the small business and the entrepreneur who simply can't compete with an advertising budget line Coke or Sony.
So is Facebook alienating it's community or trying to make a platform that is truly relevant to the individuals that are using it. And what IS a small business or an entrepreneur to do?
When the dust settles, Facebook is still a "social network" and it is also a business. A bar is a social network and so is a coffee shop. When you're in there, usually, more often then not, you spend some money.
Which means, if you're an individual user on Facebook, communicate with not only your friends, but with the brands and pages you like. By doing that, you're quite literally letting Facebook know what you "like." Also, take a moment to communicate with Facebook directly. If you see an ad on your feed that you don't like or don't want to see, click the little arrow on the upper right of the post. Hide it, remove it from your timeline, dump it. And take the 15 seconds to let Facebook know why. It's your wall, your feed, you're in charge.
Small Business, now more than ever needs to post relevant and engaging content on their page. Content that gets liked, shared and commented on. Lance Nuehauser commented in an article on InsideFacebook.com that marketers need a real voice. Gary Vanerchuck in Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook also talks about this. Your page can't be all "buy now" "come on down" "call today" "BIG sale this weekend" People get enough of that on TV and everywhere else online. Social Media.... hell, it's right there in the damn title people! Be social. Start conversations, have fun and engage your fans and followers.
Facebook will need to also listen to the voice of the hand that feeds them right now as well. Small business and entrepreneurs helped get Facebook where it is today and needs to make sure it's algorithms are focused on engagement and eliminate tactics like "this post was served to X number of people." Who or what get's to decide how my content gets served? Shouldn't it all get served up and let the people decide? Well, it is Facebook's sandbox and we are playing in it. Do we take our toys and go home? Build a better sandbox or adapt and over come. For a business, as Grant Cardone states, "Obscurity is your biggest problem." A business needs to use Facebook, not the other way around. Businesses will slip deeper into obscurity if they are not getting engagement and with the current set up, you can't post your way out of obscurity. It's engagement and you gotta pay to play, which will ultimately result in less and less players. Big players will wind up out bidding the little players and the little players will go on to the next little player friendly social spot leaving the big players all dressed up and no where else to go. When Facebook dies, since MySpace went with music, what will their new niche be? Gotta wonder!
Oh, well... It's all part of the grand social media experiment and everyone's in on it. Most likely in a few years, Mark will go join Tom and sit on a desert island he bought somewhere and they can reminisce about how they changed the world.