The year 2015 is widely recognized as the year that organic reach died. Organic reach is the total number of unique people who were shown your content through unpaid distribution. Paid reach, on the other hand, is the total number of unique people who were shown your post as a result of ads you paid for them to see.
The Algorithm That Broke the Camel’s Back
In June of 2016, Facebook released a “News Feed Values Statement” detailing how content is prioritized in your News Feed. The implications for publishers and brands using Facebook for marketing is clear — this update is shoveling more dirt over the coffin of organic reach. What Facebook now says, is that content from “friends and family” is priority #1 in its algorithm, news is #2, and finally, entertainment and brand content, including Facebook Live, is #3.
While it’s had one foot in the grave (and the other on a a banana peel) for some time now, this priorization schema from Facbook clearly states that organic reach for brands on Facebook is DEAD, BURIED, and GROWN OVER! Forget about hoping for a resurrection of Fan Page-generated organic connections driving business from Facebook. It’s time to stop mourning — and move on to something that will work, going forward.
Who Has Your Trust & Attention?
Brands now have only two viable options to reach consumers on Facebook: 1) Social Brand Advocacy, which is highly effective and offers an unmatched ROI, or 2) Paid Advertising.
The best answer — and the top of Facebook’s priority list — are the real people who have the trust and attention of their friends and priority in the content of their news feeds. These trusted people are the catalysts who have the ability to stop the swiping (the ubiquitous sideswipe motion that means you have already lost attention) and get focused attention from your desired audience.
This is the hidden gold mine — the customers, fans and stakeholders of your brand communicating naturally on Facebook. This is what Facebook calls “Authentic Communication.” This change now requires a brand advocate intervention/representation on behalf of your company.
Mr. Marketer…Tear Down That Wall
What marketers unknowingly did in building vast followings on social networks, was insert a gate that they did not control between themselves and their rented customers and prospects. They were never “your” people. They belonged to the network. The rules controlling access to the data about them — and you marketing to them — were unilaterally changed.
This was done for the same reason that you market to customers and prospects. The social networks saw an opportunity to make money. The opportunity for Facebook to create maximum profit from its platform and make you pay to access your own clients and prospects became glaringly obvious. And if you missed it, they began to make that shift in 2014!
Your Fans Are an Open Book
The second problem is one that is almost totally unrecognized by business owners and marketers. Frankly, it is a problem more frightening than the first. I understand Facebook’s motivation and expectation to make money from its platform.
The more concerning element is that, by maintaining the community for your business on that social network, you are exposing your very best clients and prospects to the possibility of being pirated by your competitors. Your fan base on the network is an open-source list!
This means that any competitor wishing to have exposure to your best clients and prospects, and to replicate your ideal client avatar, is free to access that information to an alarmingly specific degree.
Another major nail in the coffin of organic reach is the sheer overwhelming amount of content that is burying every consumer. The accessibility of the “Information Age,” combined with the massive influx of “content creators” has created a mountain of content that would take many lifetimes to completely consume.
For example, Google recently shared the startling statistic that 400 hours of video content is being uploaded to YouTube for each minute of time going on the clock. Every minute. Just YouTube. Not counting everything else. Talk about overwhelming!
Filtering that unimaginable quantity of content for search engines and social newsfeeds requires ever more effective and selective algorithms. To satisfy consumers, these algorithms must ensure that only the very best, most engaging content is served as correctly and as personally as possible to each specific user. It is also the end of organic content as we’ve known it.
Adapted excerpt from The New Face of Your Brand: Social Brand Advocacy grows Business with Customer Community and Co-Created Marketing, by Shawn M. Miller