Getting Over Facebook: They Knocked Out My Traffic, Now What?

Last Friday, Facebook announced it will be implementing new methods to “increase the relevance and quality” of the stories people see in their News Feeds. This will likely mean that fewer fans of a retailer will see the notice about the big sale and fewer fans of a video game company will see a post promoting its latest app.

Great news, right? Not so much. For many business pages and advertisers, The Book’s latest “tweak” will come at a hefty cost.

What goes up must come down

In order to increase the relevancy and quality of posts on consumers’ News Feeds, Facebook is going to reduce the reach of brands’ “promotional” page posts. Facebook believes decreasing the number of “spammy” posts results in News Feeds that better reflect the user’s interests.

However, the social media giant’s new move is further angering brands. Only  a year ago, Facebook they urged those same brands to invest in more paid distribution in order to make up for the lack of organic reach they were receiving. If Facebook wasn’t saying it loud enough before, now they’re yelling it from the rooftops: If you want the benefits of advertising, skip the boosted posts and buy our ads.

An example of a social post that was considered too "spammy" by users.
An example of a social post that was considered too “spammy” by users.

Tale as old as time

Businesses’ Facebook presence changing over time is nothing new. For the past two years, Facebook slowly shifted the reach of brand and publisher distribution. Brands have seen their organic reach nosedive, while publishers have seen their referral traffic from the platform reach unprecedented highs. The reach brands used to receive for free are now costing them, big time.

A study performed by Digiday and SocialBreakers spanning from January to September found brands were only able to reach an average of 25 percent of their fan bases each month organically, while celebrities reached 54 percent of fans and news media companies saw 58 percent over the same time period.  Result? Brands receive less organic reach, and Facebook is favoring other types those “some” people obviously aren’t brands.

For brands, the reality is much bleaker. In February 2014, ad agency Ogilvy reported that brands’ Facebook posts were only likely to reach around 2 percent of users. In March, a Facebook sales presentation leaked to AdAge warned, “we expect organic distribution of an individual page’s posts to gradually decline over time.” So, if your organic reach was already down, and soon your paid reach will also be down … What’s a brand to do?

Road to recovery part 1

If you’re a big named brand, don’t panic! This news may actually pay off in the long run. What makes any brand grow? Speaking to millions of people, not thousands of fans. Some marketers predict that Facebook’s shift to their new paid platform will offer that scale, while continuing to provide the benefits of being the single biggest reach platform in the world, with high cost efficiency and ROIs greater than TV.

The catch? Get ready to invest even more money.

Road to recovery part 2

If you aren’t a big brand with a multi-million dollar marketing budget, adhere to these tips:

Stop obsessing about Facebook

We know it’s hard. Getting over Facebook will be like getting over your crazy ex, but similar to what your friends told you during that break-up, “Why invest time in someone who doesn’t treat you how you want to be treated?”

Unlike what your friends also probably told you about your ex, we aren’t advocating you quit Facebook all together (not for now, at least). Facebook will still hold a place in social media marketing over the next few years, but how marketers use it will certainly change.

When you’re breaking down and thinking about going back to paid posts, just remember: Facebook reach is a vanity metric and doesn’t truly measure the relationship between consumer and brand. Even more importantly, reach doesn’t equal revenue.

Reallocate your funds

Here’s why Facebook is making this shift: After a polling users to find out what they wanted to see on their News Feeds, the answer  wasn’t paid posts with hard-sell. Users want to see creative and original content. So invest more into creating and experimenting with video, audio, text and photos.

One big criticism of Facebook ads was that they promised increased engagement and strengthened relationships, but rarely delivered. Unique content that tells your brand’s story fills this void. Brands with high quality content, such as Red Bull and (insert your brand name here), will still be able to reach fans.

You got a user to your Facebook page through other means of outreach and a good customer experience, give them a reason to ‘like’ it through providing valuable content.*

* Or, at worst, don’t give them a reason to ‘unlike’ it!

Use other methods of outreach

Capture leads and use them! E-mail marketing is coming back in a big way, and it doesn’t involve a crazy algorithm for your creative content to be seen. Make sure your website and physical store are getting the appropriate and necessary information from anyone who makes a purchase, then turning around and delivering valuable information to them.

Great customer service

Word of mouth advertising is still the best referral for your brand. Nothing can sour a relationship quicker with a consumer than poor customer service. So invest in  extra steps to give people something positive to say about you. Use free shipping, personable customer service reps, free store order delivery, getting involved in the community, rewarding customer loyalty, free doggie treats, free samples and whatever else you can think of.

It’s the small differences that help consumers better understand and ultimately trust your brand that will set you apart.

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