Facebook Algorithm Update: The Decline in Organic Reach

Have You Heard the News?

Facebook is updating its news feed algorithm to prioritize what friends and family share. This means users will see less content from brands and publishers as Facebook looks to ramp up meaningful interaction on the social media platform.

Further amplifying the “pay-to-play” approach established with the algorithm update in 2015. Brand Pages’ organic post reach (i.e. unpaid) will significantly decline once again, making it more difficult for key updates to be shared with Page followers.

How Does This Affect My Brand?

Your Organic Strategy

Expect to see Facebook Page organic reach and website traffic referral gradually go down in the next couple of months. This algorithm change will shift toward meaningful interactions on organic content in the news feed. Instead of driving website traffic, brands will need to alter organic social strategies from driving website traffic to facilitating on-post conversations.

An excerpt on the update from Facebook:

“With this update, we will also prioritize posts that spark and meaningful interactions between people. To do this, we will predict which posts you might want to interact with your friends about, and show these posts higher in feed. These are posts that inspire back-and-forth discussion in the comments and posts that you might want to share and react to – whether that’s a post from a friend seeking advice, a friend asking for recommendations for a trip, or a news article or video prompting lots of discussion.”

Your Paid Strategy

If brands haven’t shifted their Facebook strategy to include a paid approach, then they may have to soon. While these changes are causing big headaches for marketers (us included!), the luxury of free online presence and distribution is no more.

John Hegeman, Facebook’s vice president of product management, said the algorithm change will not affect social advertising on the network. While ad rankings will remain untouched in the news feed overhaul, the decline in organic reach could potentially impact auction bids on paid content. We recommend paying close attention to the bid on your ads as it is unknown whether or not the feed will increase the number of ads serve or increase the bid competition and cost.

What Not To Do

Your organic meaningful interactions should not come as a result of engagement baiting. Engagement baiting is a technique used to encourage people to comment or engage on posts in order to rank higher. Facebook has already warned against this strategy and have indicated content falling into this category will also be deprioritized.

While Facebook has few concrete answers for how brands should move forward, it has been emphasized that keeping a social strategy stagnate could have negative implications.

MBB Agency Thoughts

As part of this evolution, here are five proactive measures to take in 2018:

  1. Rethink your paid and organic strategy. Look at your paid social media strategy as what you want your target audience to learn, and use your organic strategy to focus on what you want your audience to find. Sponsored content that is distributed as a dark post isn’t searchable, therefore it’s crucial to keep the lights on organically. It’s okay if the posting cadence for organic content decreases, as long as your social presence isn’t stale and is supported with paid dollars.
  2. Increase your paid social budget. If you haven’t already invested in social media advertising, MBB Agency recommends using Facebook as a paid distribution channel. Even with these new changes, Facebook remains a viable marketing channel as it bolsters a business’ online presence and offers targeted, affordable paid promotional opportunities that can drive business outcomes.
  3. Diversify your social presence. This is a positive reminder to not build reliance on one single social network, but to diversify your social presence across the channels which are relevant for your brand. There are still organic opportunities to create online communities to drive engagement on channels such as Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter and YouTube. But, “pay-to-play” is here to stay in the social sphere, so expect those channels to continue to announce ways to amplify reach and engagement through paid opportunities.
  4. Lean on Facebook Live. In the Facebook announcement, it specifically calls out live videos being a facilitator of discussion with Facebook Live videos earning on average six times as many interactions as regular videos. Pre-recorded social videos that create a passive experience will likely be deprioritized making it key for brands to invest in live content in 2018.
  5. Utilize UGC and influencer content. The importance and need of user-generated content from consumers and influencers will be greater than ever if posts from friends and family are going to be prioritized. Look at influencers, celebrities and ambassadors as a meaningful content generator and distribution channel in 2018.

So, Now What?

Now is the perfect opportunity to take a step back and evaluate your brand’s social efforts. The MBB Agency team would be happy to assist in looking at the strategy and tactics you are currently deploying and ways you might be able to optimize going into 2018.

Interested in learning more about what your target consumer actually wants to engage in or what you competitors are doing? Our tools and team can help implement a social listening strategy to better understand your audience. Or, maybe you’re interested in increasing your Facebook Live or influencer strategy? We’d be happy to assist in a brainstorm and look at your current efforts. Please don’t hesitate to reach out. We’d love to work together to ensure your social success in 2018!

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