Implications of Facebook's Ad Strategy
Facebook’s decision to move non-promoted posts out of its news feed affects more people than we think. Although this is only being trialed in six countries, the response has increased concerns about Facebook and the future of unpaid advertising on its site. Indeed, the new measure means all non-promoted posts from commercial channels will be diverted to a separate feed, restricting users’ primary news feed to just content made by friends, family and adverts.
So what does this mean for PR and comms teams?
For many, the main concern is the end to organic reach on Facebook. It was already virtually non-existent, but this move seems to draw a definitive line in the sand. Brands will have to rethink about how they advertise, as already there has been a significant drop in the number of people engaging with branded content. Facebook pages in Slovakia (one of the countries trialing the change), have already seen their organic reach drop by 66-75%.
And Facebook's owned-analytics service in Slovakia found that the majority of the country’s largest pages have seen their organic reach drop by at least two thirds. According to Slovakian journalist Filip Struhárik, these changes have significantly impacted traffic towards his own site – with pages seeing at least four times less interactions.
What will this mean for advertising?
The trial has increased concerns about Facebook and its advertising. The new changes have led many to believe that the trials are the latest in a series of algorithm changes Facebook’s made to reduce the amount of organic reach on its advertising posts. For instance, prior to 2012, Facebook’s organic reach used to be a lot higher.
Last year, Marketing Land reported that between January and June 2016, the average reach of an organic post had declined by 52%, compared to the previous period. In 2012, posts could reach around 16% of page fans, whereas in 2016 it was below 2%.
While Facebook has said it has no ‘current’ plans to roll out the trial further – thanks to the huge backlash – many believe it’s only a matter of time. But rather than freak out over Facebook’s inevitable changes, perhaps we should take this as an opportunity to diversify content across multiple platforms.
The platform will do what it can to benefit its bottom line, so the key for content creators and marketers is to ensure they’re creating engaging experiences for their audience on social channels, without relying solely on Facebook.
Miniscule organic reach on Facebook is already a reality, and the ways to combat it apply to content generally: make it relevant and engaging, use every data point at your disposal and evolve as your brand grows. There’s no telling what new feature Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn or Snapchat will roll out next or how their algorithms will affect the rules of engagement. All we can do is try to stay ahead of the curve and focus on giving audiences what they want.