Brands face an uphill battle to get organic content seen by Facebook users.

In a recent article from AdAge titled, “Four Reasons Your Brand Posts are Fading on Facebook,” Cotton Delo takes us through the changes that are making it harder and harder for brands to earn a spot on valuable News Feeds, without paying a premium. A study done by [email protected] found that the “average reach of organic brand posts had plummeted from 12.1% in October 2013 to 6.2% in February.” Yikes! Talk about a drop off.

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When approached about the decrease in visibility over a year ago, Delo reports that Facebook, “objected to the inference that the changes had been made to spur marketers to spend more on ads to make up for lost reach.”

Fast forward to present day, and it seems Facebook is changing their outlook on the issue. According to a document from Facebook titled Generating Business Results on Facebook,

“Your post has a better chance of appearing organically to your fans and their friends if it’s relevant to them and if their friends interact with it… But to maximize delivery of your message in News Feed, your brand should consider using paid distribution, as it enables you to reach people beyond your fan base and move beyond the organic competition.”

Seems to be a disconnect from their original statement. Either way, it looks like Facebook has adopted a new, “You gotta pay to play” attitude.

What’s causing this decline in post visibility?

1. People have more friends. More friends equals more potential relevant posts. More potential posts equals less room for brand posts.

2. People are following more brands. As users “like” more and more brands, competition for News Feed space has increased.

3. Make room for the news. Facebook recently changed their News Feed algorithm to allow more news content to show on users’ feeds, making the window of opportunity for brands even smaller.

4. Paid brand content. Because News Feeds now include paid content, the slice of the News Feed pie that is open to organic content becomes increasingly smaller.

“1,500 pieces of content are eligible to appear every time a daily user logs into the network. Each day, an average of 300 “stories” are then prioritized by news-feed algorithms to appear to that user.” – Delo

When you think of it this way, it makes sense that less and less organic brand generated content is being seen by users. There is a hierarchy in place in the Facebook algorithm, we can’t say what order of importance the above four things appear in, but we can infer that organic brand content probably takes its place on the bottom rung of the content ladder, leaving brands little choice but to consider paid alternatives.

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What can we do?

We can’t just hang up our content creating hats and call it a day, but these four issues are only going to trend upwards. So, there needs to be a shift in Facebook strategy for those of us who are not content with seeing post reach plummet.

1. Go Paid. While it’s less than ideal to begin paying for a content strategy that was previously free, opting to use paid products on Facebook could be worth the while in the long run. If you’re going to be writing and coordinating the content regardless, there is less value to that time and effort if you’re not drawing the number of eyeballs that you should be. Using the “Boost post” feature every once in a while can be cost effective, and get your brand back into the News Feeds and mindshare of your audience. By spreading your posts to a wider audience, they are more likely to be seen by more people; therefore, they have a higher chance of gaining the social momentum to be shared even further via Social Context.

2. Strive for Social Context. Facebook prioritizes content based on what value the content offers users, how often users interact with certain brands/people, how popular a particular post is, as well as numerous other unknown factors. So, if Suzy Q. shares a brand post with her followers, Facebook’s algorithm prioritizes this brand content because it is defined as having “Social Context.” Good content equates to higher Social Context. Facebook gives preferential treatment to posts that are relevant to the user. It’s similar to Google’s advice for the age old, “How do I SEO my site?” Well, you simply need good, engaging, and valuable content.