We've always been told that one of the best things about building a large Facebook
fan base is that you can build a community around your brand and share content with them rather than constantly having to pay for media. Brands have spent a fortune building up huge amounts of followers on their pages, but Facebook has been making some changes recently that are making a mockery of the whole notion of actually having people like your page.
The bottom line is that Facebook is cutting back on the amount of updates people see from brands and it is probably to do with increasing its own revenues. Let's have a look at what has been going on over the last month and what it means for your page.
Understanding Edgerank - How Many People See Your Posts?
To understand what's happening, you really need to be aware of Edgerank and how it works. You can read our post about it here, but essentially it is the algorithm that Facebook uses to decide who sees your posts in their news feed. The more people comment, like, share and engage with your posts, the more often they will see it in their news feed.
While many people still think that all their posts get seen when they update, it is a select group of probably between 5% - 20% who actually see your updates. To really understand how many people are seeing your pages on average, have a look at this great research that the guys over at SocialBakers shared on its blog. It shows that the bigger your page, the less people will see your posts.
Recent Changes Hurting Brand Pages
So we started noticing something across all the pages we manage a couple of weeks ago. Posts all of a sudden were not reaching as many people. It felt like there was a sudden drop overnight and the first instinct you get is that the content you are sharing is no longer as engaging as you thought it was. Turns out that is not the case and that many other people were seeing the same thing.
The guys over on the Edgerank checker blog have been following the numbers for the last couple of weeks and by gathering the data from a bunch of pages, you can clearly see that Facebook is starting to squeeze business pages.
Brands Now Effectively Paying Facebook Twice
Most brands or business pages have acquired their likes through Facebook advertising. Not all of them, but a large percentage. The whole idea is that you get people to like your page and then you engage with them through content and updates. What is happening now - with the introduction of promoted posts - is that Facebook is trying to get brands to pay to be seen by all the people who already like their page. They are saying "only 5% of people who like your page are going to see your updates so if you want to get the other 95%, you will have to pay again".
The numbers may vary from page to page, but this is essentially Facebook trying to get more money out of brands and business page owners. The likes that you paid for and the community you built up is no longer worth what it once was. Of course, Facebook will counter by saying it's only trying to preserve the integrity of the news feed. However, that just isn't going to wash with brands and we are seeing a lot of people getting annoyed and frustrated with these changes already. It feels like Facebook has suddenly just decided to move the goal posts.
The Battle For The News Feed
Brands and business pages wouldn't be the first group of people to feel the effects of a change to the news feed. Zynga has been having massive problems of late because Facebook has cut back the amount of updates you get from games, effectively hurting their acquisition efforts for new users. The social reader apps also saw huge growth in the early days as Facebook pushed them to the very top of the news feed, but they have fallen dramatically as Facebook pushed them down or out of the news feed completely.
When it comes to the news feed, it doesn't matter who you are because if Facebook decides that you are gone, there's very little you can do, no matter how much you're paying. Let's leave the final word to Facebook itself which came back with the following statement:
"We're continuing to optimize News Feed to show the posts that people are most likely to engage with, ensuring they see the most interesting stories. This aligns with our vision that all content should be as engaging as the posts you see from friends and family."
What do you think? Are you seeing less engagement on your posts? Do you think what Facebook is doing is right for the end users, or is it bowing to the pressure of the public markets and trying to squeeze more money out of the platform?