Why the free ride of Facebook organic reach is over

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Back in 2012, brands could reach about 16 per cent of their fans on Facebook through organic reach. Thanks to a round of changes to Facebook’s content marketing algorithm, that number has declined to a figure closer to two percent.

Last Friday, Facebook made the latest round of changes to cripple organic reach even more. Posts deemed as being “overly promotional” won’t go as far as they once did. This includes posts that push people to buy something, install an app, or enter a contest. Content lacking in creativity is also culled. The new changes are the result of a recent user survey where many respondents reportedly said they were seeing too many ads in their newsfeeds.

The free ride of organic reach is over. If brands want to reach a significant portion of their audience they have to pay for sponsored stories now, and they’ll also have to produce high-quality content.

Digiday posits this theory: “Some have speculated that inducing brands to spend more was Facebook’s central motivation for decreasing brand reach. Facebook has argued that the decrease was actually meant to protect its users from the scourge of bad brand posts and also the natural result of brands posting to Facebook so often that users’ attention has been diluted.”

What Defines High Quality Content?

After the August 2013 algorithm changes Facebook put up a post defining high quality content. If a post meets the new requirements, it has a better chance of reaching the coveted top spots on people’s feeds.

Still, a dismal percentage of a Page’s fans won’t even see it to begin with. To have the same distribution as back in the heyday of organic reach they have to shell out for sponsored stories.

Investing in Sponsored Stories

Facebook offers a free sponsored stories guide for any businesses interested in looking into this feature. There are 11 different types of sponsored stories, and the social network is always growing and adapting so there will likely be more types introduced in the future.

When someone likes or shares your brand’s content it will appear as a story on their friend’s newsfeeds. For example, if John likes your brand page, a post will appear on his friends feeds saying “John likes Brand X”, and there will be a link to your brand Page. It will also say “sponsored” on the content.

With last week’s newly announced changes to content ranking system, Facebook seems to be pushing marketers further towards paid ads like these. Such a move could be frustrating for some marketers because now they have to pay to do something, which they once could do for free.

If you want to invest in sponsored stories download the guide, or follow this link for a succinct explainer.

Flickr photo via user clasesdeperiodismo

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