Facebook finally responded to the criticism against it’s declining organic reach for marketers with a long blog post explaining its actions. Although Facebook has made piecemeal statements before defending its value for marketers, clearly the criticism has grown enough for it to formally respond to all the charges, and it appears to have (grudgingly) done so.
The tone of the post is a that of a parent addressing a child’s whiny complaints with a mix of patronizing history lessons about how search engines work and defensiveness about all the other things it is doing for marketers.
While it accepted that the organic reach of brand’s Facebook pages had declined (and would continue to decline,) Facebook said there were other ways marketers could get value from the platform. Here’s the short version of its post:
Organic reach is down because there’s too much content competing.
With everybody posting stuff to Facebook all the time, there’s far more competition from people’s own posts, which include images, videos and articles they read. Brand pages have to fight to get their Page updates seen.
Facebook only shows people content that’s relevant to them.
To determine which stories get seen, the News Feed ranks each possible story (from more to less important) by looking at thousands of factors relative to each person.But Facebook won’t really tell you what those factors are.
Facebook won’t show all the content to all the people all of the time
People only have so much time to consume stories, and people often miss content that isn’t toward the top when they log on. This means they often do not see the content that’s most valuable to them.
Translation: “Who do you think we are? Twitter? LOL”
No, we’re not trying to take all your money
Facebook denies killing organic search so that marketers spend more money advertising on it instead. (Although, if you really want to get people to read your stuff by giving them money then ¯_(?)_/¯ )
Organic search is dropping for other search engines too
Time for a history lesson:
Online search engines, for instance, provided a great deal of free traffic to businesses and websites when they initially launched. People and businesses flocked to these platforms, and as the services grew there was more competition to rank highly in search results. Because the search engines had to work much harder to surface the most relevant and useful content, businesses eventually saw diminished organic reach.
Since there’s so much content out there, if you show everybody everything, then no one sees anything says Facebook, citing the example of Google. Except Google explicitly wants companies to pay to be on top of the search results, heck that’s how it makes all its money. So not quite the best example of “we’re not trying to make money off you”
Paying for fans is totally worth it you guys!
Despite not wanting your money, Facebook says you should give it anyway because you get so many fans in exchange. But what exactly is the value of fans?
1) When someone sees that their friend likes a brand’s page, they are more likely to tolerate your ads.
2) You can mine their personal data to get a profile of your customer.
3) Business credibility. (If no one likes you on Facebook, it makes people think you are probably a drug dealer.)
4) If people like your page, you get better pricing when it comes to ad auctions.
But here are some businesses who are really successful without fans!
As a list of businesses succeeding on its platform, Facebook provides four examples of brands who advertised to people who weren’t their fans.
Rice Creek Family Dentistry wanted to grow its client base to support a second location and increase appointments among existing patients. The practice now runs ads in News Feed linking patients to an easy-to-use appointment app.
Salesforce initially viewed Facebook as a way to engage with existing customers, until using Facebook Ads to drive high-quality and cost-effective leads, cutting its cost-per-lead goal by more than 50%
Despite the “hey-we’re-just-trying-to-help-you-guys-out” tone, make no mistake about Facebook’s intentions. The platform is very clear that the only real way to get any traction on Facebook is to spend money, first by getting fans and then by advertising. This post might be defensive, but Facebook’s strategy is pretty straightforward
Frankly, marketers shouldn’t be surprised. Facebook might have made it look like it was giving you an owned channel, but the real estate always belonged to it. Any marketer complaining about how a space it didn’t pay for deals with their content isn’t really doing their job right.