If it seems like your Facebook posts aren’t reaching as many people as they used to, you’re not alone. And it’s not a coincidence. Amid yet another revamp of the News Feed, Facebook
is said to be reducing the organic reach for posts from brand Pages so they reach just 1%-2% of fans, according to Valleywag and CNET. That’s a big decrease from 16% a year ago. In
short, that means posts to brand Pages will reach far fewer fans, forcing marketers to -- you guessed it -- make greater use of paid advertising.
CNET quoted a Facebook spokesperson
who helpfully explained: “Over the past few months, we have been having conversations with clients about declining organic distribution in News Feed. This is largely due to more competition
driven by more sharing.”
It’s worth noting that this explanation is pretty opaque, as “more competition” and “more sharing” could both reflect
Facebook’s own adjustments to the platform.
However Facebook wants to spin it, the move will effectively cancel out the years-long efforts of brands big and small to build
up their fan bases, on the understanding that they would be able to reach a large number of these fans without having to pony up to Facebook. Basically, Facebook is moving the goal posts, and not for
the first time, in its efforts to make more money.
Valleywag correctly points out that Facebook is a business and not a charity. But it’s also true that a central part
of social media’s value proposition has always been that tantalizing prospect of “earned” media. The idea that when brands make the effort to play with consumers on a level social
playing field, they can reap benefits in the form of greater exposure and incremental reach, free of cost, if only they can produce the right content in the right context.
Facebook’s move mean that vision is dying? Cutting free reach and forcing brands to pay up seems to move social media in the direction of more traditional media models based on scarcity, like
old-fashioned TV and print. (Remember print?) Or is this view too pessimistic? As always, I’d like to hear what readers think about these changes!