Facebook has changed their News Feed algorithm in the very recent past and the impact has made several advertisers take a much closer look at just how well their efforts are reaching their target markets. The results have made many stand up, take notice and some are even taking action. That action means to stop running ads on Facebook.
Take for example, this intro to a story from Business Insider. It tells the initial story of many small businesses very well
Stephanie Stiavetti is a freelance food writer.
She is the author of a cookbook called “Melt: The Art of Macaroni and Cheese,” published by Little, Brown, and Company.
She is at the vanguard of a swelling movement against Facebook.
Stiavetti knows that as an author and writer, she is a one-woman brand — and that she needs to market her brand as best she can on the Internet.
So she’s got active profiles everywhere: Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, and Google Plus.
One place online where Stiavetti has decided to be less active about promoting herself is Facebook.
The last sentence is the one that catches the attention of most. How could anyone consider NOT using the biggest social media marketing platform in the world? Stephanie’s reasons are pretty straightforward. This comes from her blog and is worth the read.
I have 8,000 followers. Over the past few months my engagement has slowed to less than a trickle – a tiny fraction of what it was at the beginning of the year. Now, when I post to my Facebook page for The Culinary Life, only 100 people see those posts (on average). Facebook then tries to charge me $20 so that you can see my content. Given that I don’t make any money from the stories and photos I post – please note there are not any ads on my site – paying hundreds of dollars a month to access you, the fans who willingly liked my page, is just not possible.
To make matter worse, Facebook has been charging page owners to run ads, which is in essence buying followers. That’s not a problem in and of itself, but when they charge to grow a page’s following and then remove access to those very same followers after they’ve accepted money for them, well, I find that incredibly unethical…
…I’m very sad that Facebook has decided to exclude the blogging community from accessing our loyal friends and fans, you who we love so dearly and are the reason we put so much work into creating recipes, photographing dishes, and publishing post after post. Really, you are the reason we work so hard. It’s terrible that Facebook has decided to hide our work from your eyes after you’ve already expressed interest in seeing it. We are not large brands selling products; the vast majority of food bloggers are moms, dads, husbands, wives, hobbyists, students, writers — everyday folks who just want to invite you into our kitchens.
In essence all the work that many brands and more have done to get themselves a strong following on Facebook are now falling into a ‘pay to play’ bucket. In other words, just because you have amassed a large Facebook following, it doesn’t mean that following is seeing everything you do unless they come directly to your page. As we all know, most people rely on the News Feed to give them the updates they think they are supposed to get because they liked a page. They only get what Facebook allows, however, and that might be a small percentage of the actual content. In essence many people who have liked so many pages will simply forget some pages they liked even exist if they are not reminded in the News Feed.
Now it looks like those page owners will have to pony up to get in front of their audience. Did Facebook spend all this time encouraging folks to build huge followings then pull the rug out from underneath them and force them to buy ads to truly reach the folks that like them?
As you might expect Facebook says no but this is a curious response from a Facebook spokesperson.
In an email to Business Insider, a Facebook spokesperson said that was not the motivation behind the News Feed change. He said the most likely reason “organic” posts from Facebook pages weren’t getting seen was that, during the holiday season, retailers are buying lots of ads for the News Feed, and those are crowding out the non-paid content.
Well, it kind of confirms what Facebook is now. The spokesperson essentially confirmed that if you want to be in front of people and get to the head of the line, Facebook will push aside organic content for advertisers in a heartbeat. It’s a pay to play game and the organic ‘discovery’ and ‘following’ of publishers and businesses is taking a backseat to the needs of Facebook which is to generate more cash. In the process, it looks like a News Feed could simply end up looking like Times Square at night where you would have to look real hard to find anything other than an ad that was flashing or screaming “LOOK AT ME!”.
Of course, Facebook has every right to do this but advertisers also have every right to look for better alternatives. Many of those buying ads for companies are responding in kind.
Jim Tobin, who runs a social media marketing agency called Ignite, says clients like his are the reason Facebook has annual revenues of $6 billion.
He says that Facebook used to be a great place for a brand because “you could you could have a presence for free and then pay to boost it.”
Now that content posted to Facebook will only seen by .01% to 2.5% of its fans, that free “presence” is basically gone.
Tobin says his clients may soon leave Facebook and take their $6 billion with them.
“We as brands have the ability to take our money elsewhere. It’s not like there’s a lack of social networks for us to take our business.”
Are you seeing a similar issue with Facebook pages? Are you experiencing trouble with reach now that Facebook has decided to limit just how much your followers can see organically? Will you ‘pay to play’? Is the investment worth it? What else might Facebook have in mind to reach further into your marketing budget and haw far are you willing to let them go?
Let’s hear your thoughts on this subject because it looks like this one might be a real concern moving forward for marketers of all sizes.