Dear Facebook, Stop Cutting Organic Reach
Facebook has announced that beginning in January it will again be slashing the amount of organic reach a business’ Facebook Page will have. The social media conglomerate says that through a survey they ran, respondents wanted to “see more stories from friends and Pages they care about, and less promotional content.” So, in response, if Facebook feels that a business’ content is “too promotional,” they won’t let many people see it. They say that a post is deemed “too promotional” if it includes:
- Posts that solely push people to buy a product or install an app
- Posts that push people to enter promotions and sweepstakes with no real context
- Posts that reuse the exact same content from ads
Here’s what I think.
Since day one brands have always been competing for consumer’s eyeballs. With TV spots, print ads, radio promotions, direct mail, etc. that need to grow brand awareness and promote a business is as old as it gets. But, over the past 10 or so years, that competition has exponentially grown because of the rise of social media and smart phones. As consumers, we’re always “connected” and often times we have multiple social media apps downloaded on our iPhone or Android device.
Social media accounts and pages are essentially “free” (even though you have to have someone to update them and produce content for it), but nevertheless it’s free to be there. It costs no money (forget opportunity costs) to have an online presence on the likes of Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, etc. This revelation has given everyone a chance. A print ad will take hundreds of dollars to be placed, but a social media account takes just a few minutes to create.
And, this was all fantastic. It gave everyone the opportunity to grow a customer base and connect with the people who were interested in what the business had to sell and say.
Let’s fast-forward, it’s now several years later and social media companies aren’t dumb. They know that a huge revenue stream for them is to let businesses advertise. And, that’s also fantastic. It gives organizations the opportunity to reach new people and continue to grow their online follower base as a means to promote their business and eventually drive sales.
All seems right with the world, doesn’t it? Not so fast, because now Facebook (the social media site with the largest amount of users) has taken it upon themselves to decide what users see and what they don’t. Facebook thinks they really know us and can produce a computer algorithm that will deliver exactly what we want every time we pull to refresh our News Feeds.
As a user, you might have mixed feelings. You might think it’ll work out for you, or you might feel a little annoyed that you can’t control what you’re looking at. As a business, there is only one feeling: hatred. It’s a strong feeling, but think about all of the time, effort, and resources that have went into cultivating a Facebook fan base. It takes years and countless hours to accumulate “Likes” and a following that is interested in what you’re saying.
Now, with some lines of code, Facebook is making all of that hard work and effort go away. But, to them it’s on us as a business to not use their platform as a selling tool, but just simply to build relationships. And, that’s ok to use Facebook to build relationships, but as a company we’re in business to sell our products and services. People have “Liked” us for a reason, because they are interested in what we have to say and sell. If they are no longer interested and feel annoyed by our content, the unlike button is just a click or tap away.
Facebook will stick to their guns and say this is all for the “user experience,” but it doesn’t take a genius to read between the lines and see that this is a purely business move to drive their advertising revenue. I’m a businessman as well, so it’s easy to see why Facebook is doing this and I’m sure they’ll make billions of dollars because of it.
I’m not asking for Facebook to stop thinking about their own revenues because that would just be foolish and naïve. They need to continue to grow and keep shareholders happy, but what I am asking is that they think long-term and about the millions of businesses around the globe that depend on Facebook as a “free” advertising resource. The millions of companies Facebook’s actions will affect simply don’t have the budget or resources to pump money into advertising on the platform.
I’m not saying this will cause some huge economic collapse, but I am saying this will negatively affect local economies and the ability for small and medium size businesses to grow and thrive. Facebook needs to realize that they are huge and in a way that helps so many. But, Facebook also needs to realize that they are huge and have the ability to collapse once another solution comes along.
They are playing on a slippery slope and have a “too big too fail” mentality. They’re thinking short-term gains to satisfy shareholders, and if Facebook isn’t careful, they’re going to slip, fall, and crack themselves wide open.