The organic reach on facebook is dead. Read this article to get a summary of Facebook´s new newsfeed algorithm changes and its effects on content marketing.
Summary: 5 Minutes read, Level: Beginner
Facebook is the world’s biggest social media platform, as I’m sure you’re aware. An estimate 2.2 million people worldwide regularly use the site or a mobile app in order to keep in touch with friends, family and acquaintances and to keep up to date with the news. Facebook from a marketer’s perspective is an invaluable tool which can be used to help a business or product be promoted to a vast audience who otherwise might never have heard of it. But now Facebook has made some changes to its news feed algorithm and this will affect content marketing in a big way.
Facebook CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, is interested in constantly updating Facebook to make it more user friendly. Some users may well say “if it ain’t broke, don’t try to fix it”, but Zuckerberg is determined to fine tune it. He accepted that Facebook had been gradually shifting away from the important issues of contacting friends and family and heading more towards advertisements and promotional content. This needed addressing, he said, which is ironic given how rich adverts on Facebook have made him. Facebook is Zuckerberg’s baby after all and he wants to preserve it as a usable platform for all, a platform that doesn’t just bombard users with a never ending stream of marketing content. This is excellent news for users, but not quite so excellent for content marketing gurus. The change could well have a significant impact on them.
Many content marketers are concerned that this will make life harder for them and it might, but ultimately Facebook is about the users of the service, or at least it’s supposed to be. Advertising is everywhere we look and as it builds up over time we don’t really notice. There is though a chance that people start to become immune to it when confronted by huge swathes of advertisements and a reduction in the amount people see could actually help certain marketing campaigns. The platform has faced accusations that they have been exploiting users psychologically with advertising and this is something they have always categorically denied – they say it’s all about identifying users’ interests and presenting them with content supposedly tailored to these interests.
From Facebook’s perspective it’s necessary to do something to win back users’ trust. Following the allegations of data harvesting and that the platform might have been used by nefarious types to influence the US Presidential election and the British EU Referendum result – although no proof exists for much of this – some people may now be sceptical towards using the social media platform and Zuckerberg knows that handing users an olive branch and making their news feeds more clutter-free that it could help the brand’s name.
The new Facebook news feed algorithm prioritises posts from family and friends over brand content. The result has seen people using Facebook for less time. Users get to see the posts which are important to them without having to sift through marketing posts in order to read them. Facebook is incredibly advert driven and if fewer people are seeing ads, it will ultimately mean that fewer companies will want to advertise there and that the cost of Facebook advertising will ultimately decrease, won’t it?
It’s too early to tell what the impact will be just yet. It’s only been two months since the new algorithm was rolled out, but early figures suggest that people are indeed spending less time on the site and that ad impressions have been affected. In January ad impressions were down on the previous year and in February there was an increase, but less of one than in 2017. Oddly the decrease in ad impressions based on previous years has actually seen the cost of adverts increase slightly. Facebook CPMs, which represent the cost of one thousand ad impressions, increased by 122% on the year and in February alone they increased 77%. This means that content marketers are effectively paying more money to reach fewer people. But there’s no need to panic just yet. Experts say that while the figures for January and February seem a little hair-raising, it doesn’t show the full picture. There is the belief that ad impressions will increase again and that the sudden decrease was just an initial reaction to the new algorithm.
In short it is believed that Facebook will still be the place for businesses and products to make them known to a wider audience. The amount of adverts on a user’s news feed has been incredibly high and Facebook admitted at one point that it was running out of places to put them. That’s hardly surprising, given that the social media giant raked in a massive $12.8 billion in advertising revenue in the last quarter.
There have been changes to various aspects of Facebook before which caused content marketers to get a little bit nervous, but it always manages to come good in the end. The advertising system on Facebook is purely mechanical and works based on demand and competition. It shows no favour or bias towards any company or individual, regardless of what they are selling or promoting. This system is set to continue and it means that, in theory at least, you will have a similar reach to before, although every user will see fewer adverts.
While the early figures aren’t hugely promising from a content marketer’s point of view, we’d really need to see at least one year, preferably two, of information before deciding whether or not it was having a significant impact on how effective Facebook marketing still is.
If you use Facebook for content marketing purposes there’s absolutely no reason that you need to rethink your strategy just yet. Simply keep an eye on proceedings for the time being and see how it all develops. It could turn out that other social media platforms become the go to places for content marketing. The world can change fast and it’s important to keep your finger on the pulse of it all.