Facebook has been a doubled edged sword for business owners and marketers. The social media platform provides a lot free ways to promote their business online. But with time, it has become more expensive for businesses to reach their fans. Facebook recently announced some changes to the News Feed that will make it harder for social media marketers to use organic reach for their marketing goals.
Facebook has modified the algorithm for News Feeds several times over the last few years. Each time, they have made it easier for people to see posts from their friends and family rather than posts from business pages. Over the next few weeks, most business owners and marketers should expect to see their organic reach drop as Facebook gives priority to non-business page posts.
"We've heard from our community that people are still worried about missing important updates from the friends they care about," the company explained in a blog post. "For people with many connections this is particularly important, as there are a lot of stories for them to see each day. So we are updating News Feed over the coming weeks so that the things posted by the friends you care about are higher up in your News Feed."
This may be frustrating to business owners, but it's a necessary evil. Facebook users with large amounts of friends, family members, and liked business pages will have thousands of potential posts that can put on to their News Feeds.
Each round of changes to the algorithm have been based on making it more likely that people will see the posts they are most likely to engage with. Without this kind of system, people could start to avoid Facebook if their feeds became overrun with marketing and advertising posts.
Facebook acknowledges that their latest round of changes will negatively impact most of the marketers who use business pages to promote their content. Whereas in the past, Facebook would reward business pages whose posts had a lot of likes and comments, they will now reserve that reward for pages whose posts are shared.
Facebook recommends that business try to make content that is informative and entertaining to encourage more shares.
"People expect the stories in their feed to be meaningful to them--and we have learned over time that people value stories that they consider informative," they explained in a post on building a better News Feed. "Something that one person finds informative or interesting may be different from what another person finds informative or interesting--this could be a post about a current event, a story about your favorite celebrity, a piece of local news, or a recipe."
Facebook marketers need to experiment to see what resonates with their audience to keep their organic reach up with these news updates to the News Feed. In the short-term, marketers can make up for the lack of organic reach by using promoted posts and Facebook advertising to get their content seen by their target audience.
While there was once a time when Facebook was a good free social media marketing tool, business owners and marketers have to except that the social network has grown to a largely pay-to-play system. It's possible to make Facebook marketing work without paying for advertising, but in the end, having at least a small budget will help marketers get the ball rolling.
For more news about social media marketing, read this article on the challenges of using social media marketing for customer service.