Have you noticed a change in your Facebook organic reach over the last few weeks? If so, you’re not alone. Last month, Facebook tweaked their algorithm to focus on “high-quality content.” While traditional news outlets are seeing 69% jumps in referral traffic from Facebook, brands, small businesses, nonprofit and government organizations are seeing much smaller organic reach to their Facebook pages, about 44% since December 1.
Facebook said the reason behind the algorithm change was to display only the most engaging content in the Newsfeed in order to keep people coming back to the site over and over again. While they don’t mention it, one could speculate that profit is also a big reason for switching the algorithm. Facebook understands how powerful their site can be as a marketing tool, and now that people are convinced of the power of social media marketing, they are ready to make more money from the countless companies and organizations that use their site to communicate with their customers and constituents.
This decrease in organic reach has huge implications for all organizations with Pages on Facebook. It means that advertising on Facebook is becoming essential to reaching your existing as well as new fans. But what do you do if you are a nonprofit or government organization with no budget for paid promotion?
1. Create Engaging Content: Make sure your Facebook content is resonating with your audience and garners likes, clicks, comments, and shares with a focus on the latter since the Facebook algorithm weights comments and shares most highly. Look at your last month of posts to identify trends in what your fans are interested in and see how you can build on that success. Your organic reach will naturally climb if you’re content is resonating with your fan base.
Looking for new ideas? You can increase your engagement rate by creating posts with pictures and video, hosting Facebook Chats that encourage commenting, and creating series of posts that engage the user (e.g., trivia or “day in the life” posts).
2. Diversify your Social Platforms: Don’t put all your eggs in Facebook’s basket. Think about other platforms like Twitter, Tumblr, LinkedIn, etc. that can help connect you to your audiences. These platforms may also eventually change their policies to make advertising essential to getting your message out, but for now this is a free option.
3. Make the Case for Paid Media Support: If Facebook is an important platform for your audience and there is no where else to reach them, then you need to make the case for paid media within your organization’s leadership. Facebook offers cost-effective options (think $200-500) for promoting a post to the very specific audience that you need to reach. You don’t need a huge budget to make an impact with Facebook Sponsored Stories. When looking at 2014 planning, see where paid media can fit in.
4. Weigh the Cost/Benefits of Participation on Facebook: If your organization can simply not afford or is not allowed to do Facebook advertising then it’s important to consider the costs vs. benefits of having a Page at all. Is your reach and engagement enough to justify the time and effort you spend creating content for the Page? We especially caution creating new Pages if there is not a plan for advertising support.
How is your agency or organization planning to deal with the drop in organic reach? What strategies are you recommending to your clients?