Facebook seeks to put the record straight on organic reach

Facebook has sought to put the record straight after the number of reports highlighted the sharp decline in organic reach of brands’ page posts by publishing a blog post that claims the changes to its algorithm are actually driving more reach for marketers. 

Facebook site
Facebook has published a blog post seeking to reassure marketers declines in organic page reach are of benefit marketing content.

Brian Boland, head of Facebook’s ads product marketing team, admits in the post that diminishing organic reach “has been a pain point” for many businesses, but says the benefit of the decline – engineered by its algorithm – is a “more engaging” News Feed and more content being shared on the platform.

The post explains that organic reach – which has declined to as little as 2 per cent of fans in some cases, according to Ogilvy – has fallen due to more content being shared on the platform, resulting in more competition for ranking in the News Feed, and Facebook’s efforts to surface more “high quality content” and clean up spam on the platform.

In what appears to be a dig at rivals like Twitter, Facebook says the real-time approach to displaying content “has limitations”.

Boland writes: “In our tests, we’ve always found that the News Feed ranking system offers people a better, more engaging experience on Facebook. Additionally, given the amount of content in the average News Feed, using a real-time system for content would actually cause Pages’ organic reach to decrease further.”

The post also points out that many other large marketing platforms – such as search engines – have also seen declines in organic reach over the years.

“While many platforms experience a change in organic reach, some are more transparent about these changes than others. Facebook has always valued clear, detailed, actionable reports that help businesses see what’s happening with their content. And over time we will continue to expand and improve our already strong reporting tool,” Boland adds.

Facebook goes on to advise marketers that while organic content still has a value on Facebook, anticipating organic reach can be unpredictable and having a piece of content go viral “rarely corresponds to business’ core goals”. Instead, Facebook says its platform should be treated like TV, search, newspapers, radio and “virtually every other marketing platform” and that brands should use paid media to achieve their business objectives.

Former Cadbury marketer Jerry Daykin, now global digital director at Dentsu Aegis Network, has penned his own blog post in response, writing: “Point made, it’s time to move the conversation on. As I’ve said before Promoted Posts aren’t a tax on marketers’ organic reach as they’re sometimes presented, but an opportunity to reach a much wider and more valuable set of your consumers with your content.”

More Facebook advertising updates

Separately yesterday (5 June) Facebook also announced it has created new ways for marketers to build their brands on the platform in the form of expanded video ad capabilities and improvements to its reach and frequency ad buying tools.

Marketers now have the option to add a call-to-action button in their video ads and video targeting has been enhanced, with the new objective of “video views” added to the Ads Create Tool, Power editor and ads API. Advertisers can also segment audiences of people who have already watched their videos and target them with specific messages.

Facebook is also introducing the ability for its biggest advertisers, those with account representatives, to predictably reach a significant number of people and control message frequency across the different number of devices users access Facebook from.

The new features will roll out globally in the coming weeks.