So I wrote about the changes that Facebook has been making to brand pages
a couple of weeks ago and how it's really starting to screw over brands by making them pay twice for visibility. I've been seeing more and more blog posts about it and noticing the engagement and reach levels slip even further in the last couple of weeks so I decided to run a test using our own Facebook page to see if things were as bad as I thought they were. The results show just how far Facebook has gone in changing how the news feed works for brands and at the bottom of it all is money.
Organic Distribution Is Dead
So when I noticed these changes, I decided to run a little test. The first thing I did was find a picture that would have large organic and viral appeal. As you can see, I posted this picture to our 48,000 Facebook likes and it was incredibly well received. Over 750 people like the post, but 1,500 people shared it. That is well above average on the page and those are numbers that most people would be delighted with.
The sharing metric is especially strong and if you take into account that the average user has a couple of hundred friends, it actually means that up to 300,000 people could have seen the post (1,500 shares times 200 average friends). What you see below the post is that only 10,000 people actually saw the post.
That is the number that worries marketers the most and it has been getting slashed by Facebook. Here I am posting a piece of content that people love and are sharing, but Facebook has taken all the reward out of the equation. Even the vast majority of people who already like my page are not seeing the great content I post. Annoying!
Paid Distribution Gets Unfair Advantage
The real eye opener as to where Facebook is heading comes when you look at the following post, which I decided to pay for as a test. I shared a post that wasn't viral or organic and is the type of post that I know doesn't get shared much. It was a product review of the iPad mini with a photo and I know they perform way below average for viral sharing. I paid $110 for it to reach people who like our page and their friends.
As you can see, the post has well over 1,000 likes, but just 90 shares which is way less than the post above. The crazy thing here is that the post is getting seen by 130,000 people, that's thirteen times as many as the first post. As an aside, I also noticed that the quality of comments and people interacting with the post was especially poor.
Facebook is completely and utterly taking the piss here. It's moved the goal posts. There is actually no point having Facebook likes on your business page at all any more. I shared great content that people like and share and it barely reaches anybody yet when I pay to have something seen, it reaches a huge number of people.
Facebook has sold the soul of its platform to milk more money out of it and that is a short-term win that won't work in the long-term. I feel absolutely cheated because after putting in so much hard work to nurture and engage a community, I now have to pay to talk to them. People are starting to wise up to this and it really isn't cool.