Facebook Turns The Screws On Organic Reach

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.

Does 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!

4 comments about "Facebook Turns The Screws On Organic Reach".
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  1. Carl Blackwell from NMMA, March 25, 2014 at 2:01 p.m.

    Valleywag is correct, Facebook is a business, which is why they really shouldn't alienate all of their paying customers. Bet Wall Street would be interested in knowing more about this. Seems to me Facebook has a lot of smart people working for them so they should be smart enough to know that taking away the organic part of their business would be akin to Google doing the same thing.

  2. Harry Hawk from Bread Depo, Inc, March 25, 2014 at 3:16 p.m.

    IMHO, there was never a commitment, direct, implied or otherwise that Pages would have priority organic access to those who like the Page.

    IMHO, the major benefit of Page Likes is that paid Facebook promotions have access to the Friends of Fans "network."

    Included in paid promotional access to Friends of Fans are promos that tell a friend of Fan that Person X Likes your Page E.g., a personalized endorsement.

  3. Sara Duane-Gladden from, March 26, 2014 at 2:56 p.m.

    Businesses and people with Facebook Pages should not have to pay Facebook to reach people who have already "Liked" their page. The point of paying should be to reach people who aren't already aware of your Page. This is Facebook saying you must pay to have your message seen by anyone, even your fans, despite the fact that this idea runs counter to the "organic" reach that social is supposed to offer. Additionally, "organic" is a better indicator that people are actually engaging as opposed to responding simply because an ad was foisted on them. Also their explanation is laughable. "More competition driven by more sharing"? The only way I could see that being the case is if millions of new Pages were born overnight. We're switching our priorities to Twitter and Pinterest, two social platforms that don't throttle you for more money and where engagement is actually way better (not the least reason being that when people follow you at those two places, they can actually see your stuff). We're also looking more at what LinkedIn has to offer. Maybe this would have been a bigger problem if Facebook was the only game in town but it's not. On a related note, as a personal user of Facebook, this change has backfired for brands, as I've unfollowed almost every brand on Facebook because now that they pay to have their stuff seen, I can no longer see posts from friends and family - the whole reason I signed up for FB in the first place.

  4. Anthony Mcloughlin from Tone Agency, March 31, 2014 at 10 a.m.

    You can still get "earned media" on Facebook despite this decline in organic reach. Yes, you may have to pay at first but as long as the content you post is highly engaging then it has the potential to reach many eyes organically. Over the weekend I wrote a post on what I think are the 3 most effective ways to combat this decline in organic reach which will help business page owners with their reach and engagement levels
    In the end, all business page owners are going to have to deal with it so rather than moan about it, people should be looking at ways capitalise on it!

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