It's official, marketing through your Facebook page is pretty much useless

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Trying to reach an audience on Facebook (without paying for it) is increasingly looking like a Sisyphean task. New research shows that despite the increasing number of posts by brands, engagement rates continue to plummet for their Facebook pages.

Social media analytics platform Simply Measured compared engagement rates for Interbrand's Top 10 Facebook Pages year-over-year and the results were pretty grim. Despite their skilled social media teams, creative visuals and content producing power, the top 10 brands uniformly saw their Facebook page engagement rates decrease over last year (with the exception of Harley Davidson.)

Keep in mind that none of these brands are exactly slouches in the social media department. Most of them, especially Disney and Starbucks routinely turn up in "Best Social Media Marketing" lists so it's a little jarring to see such a dramatic drop in post engagement. Then again, with Facebook repeatedly warning everyone about the decline in organic search, it shouldn't come as much of a surprise. The message is pretty clear, you've got to pay to play.

And it's not that the brands haven't been trying. If anything, they've all increased their number of followers. But despite posting more, and arguably better content, their posts continue to reach a declining number of people.

It just goes to show that despite what most marketers say, you simply can't increase customer engagement on Facebook without paying for it. This marks a crucial shift in the budgets of marketing departments, especially the PR folks who handle most of the unpaid or earned marketing. With this study, they'll have a legitimate case for requesting a bigger slice of the marketing budget.

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