Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Why is Facebook Organic Reach Dying off?

In case you’ve not noticed Facebook seems to have bottlenecked organic traffic of late, to our precious Business Pages. Rumours are rife that Facebook wants our ad money so it’s stopping our possible customers from getting to see what we’re putting out there. This is actually pretty unjust and the facts are a lot less sinister, but just as troubling for those of us relying on our customers finding our content through the platform. It’s a simple case of numbers and algorithms.

doesn't seem fair - but appearances can be deceptive

There isn’t space for everything in our newsfeeds, so Facebook uses an algorithm called EdgeRank to try to calculate what we want to see most. This mostly works, though does make for a bit of an insular experience that, long term, rather stifles what we see and who we see it from. Ever noticed how some friends disappear out of your feed if you don’t keep chatting to them? The same is true when it comes to people engaging with brands, and unless you’re publishing something pretty kick-ass or got a dedicated niche following than that’s invariably the case. The important basics are like this:

Time: Was it posted recently? The fresher the better.

Weight: Different things have a higher ‘value’, so the likes of ‘images’ and ‘video’ seem to rank better than just links or simple comments. It seems the more effort you put in, the better the content ranks.

Affinity: What’s the relationship between the ‘edge’ and the user? Has the user commented on, liked, shared, or whatever, things from the brand page before? The more the better and different actions have different values. Probably.

The problem is simple. If people don’t interact then they don’t get to see your content further down the line. Interest drops, and it’s hard to rekindle once it’s gone.

try something different

Obviously this makes the likes of Facebook promoted posts more valuable. If you post good strong content, asking poignant questions or with details of small sweepstakes or competitions, this can rekindle a flagging follower-ship. If you do, remember consistency is key and you’re going to need to commit to your Page to get the community active again. It won’t do it by itself and you’ll need to get them sharing and liking again by giving them creative, humorous, and edgy content suitable for doing so. Something for your followers to get their teeth into.

In many ways I approve of this, at least for now. It encourages good quality content and creativity. It does raise the question, however, of how long Facebook can support using this system? In many ways this is leading to the stagnation of the platform if we just see content from the same people, and may even lead to it’s eventual downfall.

Regardless, for now this is just how it is. Let’s work it the best we can.

One decent solar flare and we’re all out of a job anyway.