Recently an Ad Age article said Facebook has now admitted that the organic views of fan pages are dropping. Significantly. In fact, Facebook suggests that the best way to “maximize” delivery of your content is to pay them. Fan pages, to them, are not communities of people who like and want content from a brand. They are ways for businesses to advertise more cheaply and effectively through Facebook in a “social context” format.
For small businesses, non profits, and generally anyone who has a fan page that isn’t specifically about selling something, this is bad news. Previously you could assume that people who became a fan of your page had a decent shot at seeing the content they signed up for. Now, only a small percentage of people see the content.
The only way to bypass the Facebook imposed limitations is to post something that your fans engage with so much that their behavior through likes and shares and comments causes the post to propagate beyond the limitations. Of course, it will be seen through those networks, not by the people who have already signed up. So, while it’s great if you have a post that generates huge engagement, the people who do the engaging and see the post through those social feeds may not be your current fans.
I wanted to see just how bad it was. My largest fans page is for my show Peculiar. I currently have 697 fans. (Crossed 700 during this experiment) Before these changes, I would normally see 60-75% of fans through organic views. That is, I’d post something and 65% or so of my fans would see it in their timeline. How bad are the new algorithms?
My page is a fan page for a TV show, with 700 fans. Many of the posts are video links to the show’s Youtube page.
For the experiment I used an event I ran during the holidays. We had the #10daysofPeculiar event on Peculiar’s FB fan page, where we brought back episodes of the show, posting one per day. With other extras posted in the afternoons. Half the videos we posted are not normally available online. I was aware of the new post reach issues, and wanted to help make sure fans didn’t miss the chance to see the episodes. So I boosted a few posts. I only spent $5 per boost, but with under 700 fans, that more than covered them. I selected showing the post to people who like the show and are friends of people who like the show. Here are the results. Number of views per day across all posts:
Guess which days got “boosted posts” and which days didn’t. You can see more detailed list of each post at the bottom of the post. I spent a total of $25 during the multi day event. Total organic views hit 956 over 12 days while views I paid for hit 7040, (over only 5 days of “boosted posts).
OK, I know, I did this over the holidays. I tried not to be too concerned with the views on Christmas Eve and Christmas. But the huge disparity between “boosted” posts and organic post is revealing. Even so, post engagement via likes and shares wasn’t that different. (That says more about my content than Facebook’s policies.)
The frustrating thing for many fan pages is that their fans have NO IDEA this is happening. Normally, once someone clicks like on your page, they don’t come back. They expect your content to show up in their new feed. If they see less, they just assume that your are posting less.
Then there is the issue of balance, where your are not supposed to post just ads. You need to engage your audience. Ask questions, give them value and content for free. So that when you do advertise or make an “ask” they will be engaged enough to respond. I am not the best at this. But these new algorithms mess that up badly. If you only “boost” posts that have advertisements in them, then the only posts that most fans see are the ones asking for money. Less than 25% see the other engagement posts. So you won’t see the same number of fans response when you sell something, or ask them to do something.
Facebook users probably don’t know, and if they did know… on the surface at least, they would likely think this was a great idea. Less ads, more content I want. They may not realize that this new system is set up to either pepper their feeds with sponsored posts, or reduce the content they want drastically. And Facebook? They are just trying to stay profitable. They have shareholders to think about now. Larger brands with big budgets won’t notice much.
In the mean time, people like me are looking for other ways to reach our fans on a consistent basis.
I am launching an email newsletter for Pup Tent Media, my production company. I will have the content for my various FB pages there (Peculiar, Flawed, and any new ventures…), send it out once a month. At least then, I know people who signed up for the content will see the email, even if they don’t open it. They at least have the chance.
Details of the #10DaysofPeculiar Posts:
Dec 20: Text post received 158 organic views, 6 page likes.
Dec 20: New Event, 19 organic views, 1 like, 11 people from those invited “attending”
Dec 21: New Cover Photo, 3 likes, 6 people saw it.
Dec 21: Video link, boosted post, $5 budget. 26 organic views, 760 paid. 6 likes
Dec 22: Video link, boosted post. $5 budget. 33 organic views, 1110 paid views. 3 likes
Dec 22: Video link, 37 organic views, 3 likes
Dec 23: Video link, boosted post, $5 budget, 34 organic views, 1391 paid views, 7 likes
Dec 23: Video link, 37 organic views, 3 likes.
Dec 24; Video link, 46 organic views, 3 likes
Dec 24, Text post, 95 organic videos, 4 likes
Dec 24, Video link, 53 organic views, 3 likes
Dec 25, Text post, 83 organic views, 4 likes
Dec 25, Video link, 31 organic views, 2 likes
Dec 26, Video link, 61 organic views, 4 likes
Dec 27, Video link, 41 organic views, 2 likes
Dec 27, Text post, 50 organic views
dec 28, Video Link, 81 organic views, 5 likes
Dec 28, Video link, 114 organic views, 7 likes, 1 comment
Dec 29, Video link, boosted post, $5 budget, 26 organic, 1935 paid views, 6 likes, 1 comment
Dec 29, Text post, 121 organic views, 4 likes
Dec 30, Video link, 54 organic views, 4 likes
Dec 30, Video link, 42 organic views, 4 likes
Dec 31, Video link, boosted post, $5 budget, 20 organic views, 1844 paid views, 6 likes