Overcoming “Facebook Zero”

July 17, 2014 Deb Griffith

Facebook Zero

Earlier this year, after noticing diminished organic reach for some of their brand clients on Facebook, Ogilvy and Mather conducted some research. It was called nothing short of an apocalypse...

Hyperbole aside, it is a pretty significant change for the social media channel and it will impact the future marketing strategies for brands currently active on Facebook.  

What is Facebook Zero?

It refers to the widely-held belief that at some point in the not too distant future, Facebook will restrict all organic content generated by businesses from news feeds, thus yielding a reach of zero. Nada, zip, zilch, bupkis.

The term organic content refers to the information that you share on your wall, and is then served to your businesses fans or followers. So if you have been asking for “likes” for your business, that community you just built most likely isn’t going to see what you have to say  anymore.

Here are some facts to illustrate the trend:

  • In February 2012, Facebook restricted the organic reach of its content on fan pages from an average of 48% to 16%.
  • This number dropped even more by February 2014 when the organic reach of a post averaged 6%.
  • Larger pages of 500k+ fans now have an average reach of 2%.

What Can Be Done?

Essentially, nothing.  Except spend money on advertising.

Facebook suggests that “boosting” content (via paid ads) will in fact get those messages in front of your followers again, plus you can target additional users as well.  

While some marketers are angered that Facebook is “taking something away from them”, the general consensus is that no one should have thought that the free ride would last forever.  

The good news is, Facebook is a tremendous online advertising engine -- probably the best one out there.   Facebook pushes ads to people based on their extensive profile data, which everyone would agree is pretty significant, maybe even a little scary.  Compare that to Google’s ad server, which only provides topical information to you when you are searching for it.

Pricing is also very reasonable for Facebook posts -- you can generally reach 1,000 for roughly $5.  The key is making sure that the posts you choose to promote have some sort of compelling message to drive action.

Why Does This Matter For Businesses?

All marketers that utilize Facebook as a distribution channel will need to take a hard look at the time and energy they now spend maintaining, cultivating and curating their Facebook presence and make appropriate changes as necessary:

  • Spending money on building a following should immediately become a thing of the past, as so few of them will ever see anything you are trying to say.
  • You shouldn’t plan to pay for boosting every single post you make, just the ones that have specific calls to action that are measurable.
  • Small businesses (with less than 1,000 likes) seem to still be achieving 20% organic reach, but these numbers are slowly slipping.
  • Check the recently updated Facebook page Insights, to see what the activity is now on your posts, so you can set your own baseline to monitor.

If you haven’t already, re-evaluate your Facebook Marketing plan now to stay ahead of the changes afoot.

 

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Abstract: 
Facebook is an essential marketing tool, but since they’ve throttled back on displaying organic posts, marketing departments need to change their strategies.

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