Facebook Reach: Pay To Play

If your organization or campaign runs a Facebook Page, it looks like the only way to reach your audience is to pay for ads. The truth around how much of your audience can be reached organically (through just posting the content, likes, comments and shares) has been a topic of substantial debate amongst page administrators, advertisers and observers for quite a while now.

A few months ago, Ogilvy released a study that showed organic reach has seen a substantial drop since October. In a video posted in January that caught a lot of attention, science video blog Veritasium took Facebook to task over what they saw as Facebook deliberately keeping page content from users. Now, Valleywag is quoting Facebook insiders who are saying that “the social network is ‘in the process of’ slashing ‘organic page reach’ down to 1 or 2 percent.” What does that mean? It means that if you have 1,000 Facebook likes for your page and you post something to the page, only 20 or 30 people will see it without some kind of boost, either through those people sharing the post or boosting it with an ad.

Social@Ogilvy Organic Reach Chart

So is it true that Facebook is essentially forcing Page administrators to use ads to reach their audience? Many are arguing that is happening already. Brands across the board are reporting that Facebook organic reach is down and only getting worse. Some say this is a good thing, as it declutters your Facebook feed and makes the overall experience more user-centric.

But what does that mean for you, as an organization? Is it worth it to have a Facebook Page? The answer is yes.

Firstly, whether Facebook admits or or not, any experienced Facebook page administrator knows that reaching your entire Facebook audience is tough, even if your content is fantastic. So this new reality is just admitting openly what is already a daily reality for most brands and organizations.

Secondly, Facebook is still the biggest social platform out there. With recent statistics that show users continue to log in and view content on Facebook (even if they don’t interact with it via likes, shares and comments), Facebook is still the social network with the biggest audience.

But here’s the change you need to accept: you will need to budget funds to reach your Facebook audience. If you didn’t realize that by now, it is time to accept that reality. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. A well crafted ad campaign can produce excellent results at a fraction of the cost of traditional marketing. And just like standard marketing efforts, word-of-mouth will only get you so far. So too is it for Facebook.

Those who fail to adjust to this reality will find it a very steep climb to engage users and get a return on the efforts they put into Facebook. But those who do can pair great content with advertising to grow their reach and their target audience.

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