The Wall recently published this article by me about Facebook's declining organic reach. They’ve been kind enough to let us reproduce it in full below.
Over the past year the decline in Facebook’s organic reach has been a key discussion point for social media marketers, and has affected the content strategies of brands using the platform.
Instead of targeting fans of a community with a high volume of organic content, brands have started creating content specifically designed to be supported with paid media. A brand’s success on Facebook used to be, in part, measured by its page - the number of likes, the number of engaged fans and so on. Facebook marketing revolved around growing and engaging with its fanbase.
However, enlightened brands are now focusing on paid media strategies that reach consumers in their newsfeeds even if they're not fans. Facebook - now a far more established advertising platform than it was a year ago - is 'encouraging' this behaviour with continuing cuts to organic reach.
With brand pages becoming less important in social media marketing strategies, we are seeing a slow but significant shift in brands’ Facebook use; brand content led from paid posts, or even dark posts (advertised posts that don’t appear on the community page itself). This means a decline in apps, updates that encourage social interactions i.e ‘like this post’, and community focused content.
Facebook has been heading down this path for a while, and it’s now even more crucial than ever for marketers to understand how this affects their Facebook marketing strategies. What it does mean, is that Facebook is no longer a free ride - as with any advertising, brands need to be prepared to pay to get results.
What it doesn’t mean, however, is that marketers can rely only on paid media for success on Facebook. Quality content is more important than ever. A really killer piece of creative can both capture the limited organic reach that is still available, and amplify the effectiveness of the media spend behind it. A great idea with the right strategic support will generate better results than poor content with a bigger investment.
With 1.2 billion users on the platform, there is no arguing that Facebook is a great place to target users with relevant, branded content. And at present, really strong creative or organic newsfeed competitions that incentivise fans with small relevant prizes (or even, just for fun), can still see a solid uplift in organic reach and interactions.
But with these opportunities becoming more and more rare, now is the time for brands to get serious about investing in social, balancing strong creative with a solid paid media strategy.