Facebook’s update to its News Feed algorithm is making it harder for posts from Facebook pages to show up in user feeds. Although the platform says it will reward posts that are “engaging,” essentially it means Facebook is telling brands that they’re better off paying for ads that will guarantee views rather than depending on organic reach.
Not only does Facebook not have a problem with this, it indicated things are going to get worse. In a blog post titled “What Increased Content Sharing Means for Businesses,” the company wrote:
Competition for each News Feed story is increasing. Because the content in News Feed is always changing, and we’re seeing more people sharing more content, Pages will likely see changes in distribution. For many Pages, this includes a decline in organic reach. We expect this trend to continue as the competition for each story remains strong and we focus on quality.
For a Page post to show up high in user feeds, Facebook says it has to have signs of engagement, i.e. clicks, likes and comments. But this creates a Catch-22 situation. Without clicks, likes or comments, the post is unlikely to be seen, and so it becomes even less likely to get any engagement that would boost its News Feed positioning. Unless your post gets likes and comments in the first few moments that it goes up, it just isn’t going to reach much of an audience.
This of course, makes it extremely difficult for a brand to build a following without paying for it, which works in Facebook’s favor monetarily, but can be frustrating for social media marketers. Facebook could argue that it is simply doing what Google does, which is reward original, organic content. But there’s no indication that the algorithm will work better for news stories instead of branded content, unless they already have a huge audience.
So what’s the solution? Facebook’s isn’t exactly helpful in its post:
As the dynamic nature of News Feed continues to follow people’s patterns of sharing, Page owners should continue using the most effective strategy to reach the right people: a combination of engaging Page posts and advertising to promote your message more broadly. Advertising lets Pages reach the fans they already have and find new customers as well. The fans you have matter. In addition to being some of the most loyal customers, fans also make the advertising on Facebook even more effective.
What this means is Facebook wants you to first get people to follow your brand by using paid advertising. Once you’ve done that to build up enough of an audience to share, like and comment on your posts, that’s when you can start to reach people organically. Unlike other social media platforms like Twitter, Tumblr or even Pinterest, Facebook is making it hard for brands to grow an audience on the strength of its content alone, and that can’t be great news for marketers who are already skeptical of paying for ads on the platform.