Ah, we conspiracy theorists are a persnickety bunch, aren’t we? Facebook reach drops dramatically, a Silicon Valley-based blog identifies a source saying the network is intentionally dialing back organic reach for brands and we all point fingers and complain about being held down by the man.
Facebook responded to this spring’s organic reach fiasco by saying there’s no manipulation. It’s just the network effect at play: People have too many friends and like or follow too many interests, brands and causes for everyone to fit nicely in the 300 or so pieces of content they deliver in a person’s newsfeed.
And we roll our eyes. Certainly, Facebook is screwing over the brands in favor of ad revenues, right?
Maybe. Maybe not.
What you see here is the reach graph for a single brand page on Facebook. It doesn’t look like yours, does it? Notice there’s no paid reach registered. It’s all organic. And it’s growing. And, by the way, it’s huge.
Typically, one example does not proof make. But in this case, it might. This is evidence that when a brand knows how to produce compelling content, they can naturally and organically feed the Facebook Newsfeed Algorithm with what it needs to make the brand’s page win.
I would argue that this chart is the single piece of evidence that proves three things:
- Facebook is not intentionally dialing down organic reach.
- Organic reach can be achieved by brands.
- The vast majority of brands simply suck at creating compelling content for Facebook.
While I do not have access to reach charts for other brands, I’ve asked around and know this to not be an anomaly. The common thread of the brands that are succeeding? They’re content engines first, sales mechanisms second.
Brands simply suck at creating compelling content for Facebook
The chart above happens to be from Someecards, which considers itself a publisher, not just a “brand.” (Disclosure: Someecards is a client of Cafepress, which powers its online apparel and merchandise sales.) Its’ team works hard to understand content and how to make it inherently clickable and shareable. The company makes its money through merchandise sales, advertising on its website and by creating customized content for brands (because they know brands aren’t good at it.)
Why is it proof? Because Facebook does not treat publishers any differently than businesses or other brands in its algorithm. In fact and if anything, publishers are scared Facebook is going to de-value their content after the network said it was changing to get rid of what it called “low-quality” content. It cited the cheap, viral type publishers as potential targets. Without better definition of that classification, some of these sites (like Upworthy, BuzzFeed and Someecards) need to be nervous. But this chart shows quality content providers like Someecards are not only seeing up-and-right read outs, they’re proving to be the true winners among brands on Facebook.
The Bottom Line
Certainly, the organic reach numbers have dropped so dramatically over a short period of time that even in light of this evidence, I still think there’s some network manipulation at play. But we now at least have proof that brand organic reach is possible. As a result, our challenge is simple: Crack the great content code.
How do we do this? One of two ways, with a convention out as a third:
- Create “Holy Smokes” Content
- Hire someone who knows how to create “Holy Smokes” Content (see below)
- (The convenient out.) Pay for reach.
Which will you choose?
Writer’s Note: As indicated, one of the ways Someecards makes its money is by providing great content for brands. If you’d like to speak with them, drop me a line via email (jason – at – socialmediaexp.wpengine.com) and I’ll connect the dots. Someecards’s content development team will show you some great ways to engage consumers through content & social media distribution.
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