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Is Facebook’s Drop in Page Impressions By Design or a Sign of the Times?

Back in my day, you posted an update to your Facebook fan page and every one of your fans saw it on their newsfeed. There was none of this messing about with paid posts and tags and highlighting. You had something to say, you just said it and people were happy to read it. We also used our phones to actually call people and mail was delivered by a mailman! Those were the days.

It’s time to accept the reality: Facebook post views aren’t what they used to be. Here’s the proof from Socialbakers.

Why is this happening? It’s probably the result of a combination of natural factors – or you could go with the conspiracy theory.

The least paranoid version is the simple law of supply and demand. As Facebook spreads throughout the world, more companies are using FB Pages to post daily updates which means more posts hitting the average user’s newsfeed. If you’re lucky enough to land in the top portion of the feed, you’re still have to fight for attention. It’s hard to stand out when there are pictures of funny babies and political jokes on either side of you.

Once you hit the page (if you hit the page), there’s a limited window of opportunity. Thirty minutes or less and your message is below the fold and out of reach.

And then there’s boredom. Facebook isn’t the novel environment it used to be.  A year ago, you could get a click with a post about a new product. Now, you’ll be lucky if they click through for a free sample. More than ever, posts have to be extremely engaging if you want fans to follow through.

The Truth is Out There

The other option, is that Facebook has created this situation in order to encourage sales of promoted posts. It’s an intriguing notion that makes a lot of sense.

Facebook needs additional revenue sources, right? So it makes sense to charge for whatever it is they have that has value – in this case, it’s the ability to deliver a message to a large audience. Up until now, they’ve been giving it away for free, allowing companies to build huge advertising platforms without forking over a dime. And as long as they can keep reaching an audience for free, why pay? (It’s the old milk / cow syndrome.) But, if their ability to reach their fans freely dries up, then they’ll have to pay if they want to keep getting what they used to get for free.

I wouldn’t go so far as to say that Facebook is intentionally barring branded updates in order to encourage paid posting. I think they’ve just trying to find the sweet spot between what users want and what brands want. What I don’t understand is why they feel the need to prevent brands I choose to follow from communicating with me as often as they like. If a brand sends too many updates, I’ll simply unlike them. Matter settled. I don’t need Facebook to make the decision for me.

What do you think? Is Facebook intentionally pushing brands toward a fully-paid model or is the traffic drop off just a sign of the times?  And if they are pushing brands to pay, can you blame them?