Have you noticed a change in your Facebook news feed? It’s actually been happening for several months now but most people are just beginning to notice. The first sign is when you suddenly realize that you haven’t seen an update from a favorite brand in a while. Then you notice another missing person and another after that.
Those people haven’t stopped posting, but Facebook has decided you’re not interested enough in them, so they’ve been removed from your feed. The culprit is a drop down that branches off the “Most Recent” link which is now set to “Friends and Pages you interact with most.” In order to override this, you must go to Edit Options and choose “All of your friends and pages.”
Trouble is, as a marketer, you can’t flip the switch for everyone who follows your page, so now many of them aren’t seeing your updates. Using only myself as a test case, I’d say that a large portion of people are interested in reading the updates from a brand but have no interest in actually interacting with them. No interaction, means no updates and that might be great for the user who wants a faster Facebook experience but it’s bad news for marketers.
Last month, TravelRepublic.co,uk posted saying that their Facebook fan engagement was down 50% because of this change. Posts that used to get 100,000 impressions are now barely hitting the 50,000 mark and that’s gotta hurt.
To counter this, people have been spreading a viral message hoping to get everyone to notice the switch and switch it back. They’re spreading the word via an Event to get around the fact that if you post it as a status update, the people who can’t see you now, won’t see the fix.
As I said, this isn’t new news. It began in February, but many folks are just now feeling the pinch. If your engagement numbers have inexplicably taken a dive, this could be the reason. That won’t bring back your fans, but at least you’ll know why.
The larger issue here is the fact that Facebook likes to make changes on the sly and you gotta wonder why. Is it simply because they’re convinced they’re working toward the greater good so no notifications are necessary? Or could there be a hidden agenda?
I love a good conspiracy, so here goes. AdAge has a new article up called “Is Facebook Charging for the Wrong Thing.” It’s all about how “free” Facebook updates can be more effective than paid Facebook ads.
Mr. Widman said a brand’s wall posts are seen typically by about 20% of fans, even without efforts to optimize viewership under Facebook’s EdgeRank algorithm. Brands can improve chances their wall posts are seen, he said, essentially by creating posts that provoke engagement (e.g. clicks or “likes”), which in turn moves wall posts higher in the “top news” rankings of news feeds, the default mode for web viewing.
Even that pre-optimized 20% is similar to what Epsilon has found to be the average 22% open rate for email marketing messages in recent years. For Coca-Cola, with nearly 26 million fans, that 20% would yield more than 5 million views per message. Even at a relatively modest cost per thousand of $7, that’s $35,000 worth of online advertising with each message. If Coke were to put out two wall posts a week, or a 100 a year, that would be $3.5 million worth of impressions.
Which means Coke would be getting $3.5 million worth of impression for free. Given that, it’s not at all surprising, that Facebook would want to limit brand exposure in order to encourage an ad buy over free ad space. What do you think? Intentional move to block brand spamming or just a coincidence?
Have you noticed a change in brand engagement on your Facebook page? If so, what are you doing to combat the problem?