The Death of Organic Reach and the Rise of the Newsfeed
Facebook is a big place; it has over a billion users worldwide and out of those billion users 20 million are in Pakistan. Over half of Pakistan’s Internet population uses Facebook, logging in multiple times a day from different devices, and if you’re anything like me you just stay logged in all the time.
None of this is news to marketers, we know this is one of the places we need to be and without question. However “What do we do to market our brands effectively?” is something that changes from time to time as the platform evolves. Facebook used to have an algorithm we referred to as “Edgerank”. Edgerank would decide what you saw in your newsfeed based on affinity (Likes, Comments, Shares), weight (a comment was worth more than a like and a share was worth more than a comment) and time decay (How old a post was). Based on Edgerank most brands would post as frequently as they could to combat the time decay element, while we would still try and make sure every post was “good” you would eventually lose out on affinity and therefore weight as well.
Edgerank is dead, thank God – they replaced it with something that makes Facebook better for us as personal users but a little trickier for marketers.
The Newsfeed algorithm is what we have now, and most of us are love it. The Newsfeed algorithm takes into account affinity much more heavily than Edgerank did, and of course weight is still there but time decay is gone. This means that the age of a post has little bearing on whether its appears in your Newsfeed or not, you may have seen lot’s of old posts reappearing at the top of your newsfeed in the last few months.
The newsfeed algorithm was created to show us more of what we wanted to see, posts from friends and family and content from pages that we cared about and less promotional posts from brands. This new algorithm is one of the reasons we have seen a decline in organic reach from brand pages, but we have also seen a decline in organic reach because people are using Facebook more than they were before and the Newsfeed algorithm shows people what they care about; they will always care about friends and family’s posts more than a brands posts (Get over it). More people are connected to the Internet now than ever before and from ore devices – we’re posting pictures and videos and we’re checking in to many more places and posting again. There’s a lot to see on Facebook and now it’s only going to show you what it feels YOU think is the best content based on your previous interactions with friends and brands. I still see a lot of posts from brand pages but those are only the brands I truly care about – people are also disconnecting from the brands they don’t feel strongly about. The 90-9-1 rule is also dead. This rule supposes that out of a group of 100 people 90 will be passive, 9 will be somewhat active and 1 will be vocal. What we’re seeing now is more like 70-20-10; society is changing, people are speaking and sharing more. The average Facebook user has 1500 stories in their Newsfeed throughout the course of the day; they might see 100 of those stories. It’s the new algorithms job to narrow that 1500 down to 300 or so.
“…as time goes on, people are just sharing more things on Facebook. So each person who is consuming content in their News Feed — they might read 100 stories from their friends and Pages a day. And as their friends share more content and as they follow more Pages and as those Pages share more content, there’s just more competition.”
Ok organic reach is dead because friends and family are sharing more stuff we care about and that’s pushed brands out of the Newsfeed unless the content is truly awesome. What do we do? We buy ads, just like we’ve always done, but now we just need to buy a few more ads than we did before. If we want our brand posts to come into peoples Newsfeeds we’re going to have to pay for it, after all ads are how Facebook earns its money, only in this case the Newsfeed algorithm actually makes Facebook a better place for us as personal users, Edgerank didn’t do that.
Brands will need to keep creating and sharing better content as times goes by if they want to keep their audience engaged, the time of the default “Someone saw the post so we got eyeballs…” is gone. This means that time should be spent creating fewer quality posts rather than a barrage of not so great ones – the creative mind has only so many ideas per week. This means we can invest in actually creating content instead of posts, videos, comic strips, TV shows, that’s great news for agencies because we all like to create content, no one likes creating status updates just to fill a calendar to chase engagement.