You won’t find us on Facebook

As you may know, Facebook has made some changes over the last few months that have now made it impossible to reach your followers organically – unless of course, you have the brand power of Coke or Microsoft.

In the past, when you posted an article, link or image, it would be shared with followers within their timeline in historical order as they log on, much like Twitter does.

Facebook has now tweaked its news feed algorithm to force brands to pay for more impressions via ads on the site, rather than capture views with clever content. Now Facebook essentially tests your content on your first few followers before deciding whether to show it to others.

Straight from the horse’s mouth, “[One of the reasons Facebook reach is declining] involves how News Feed works. Rather than showing people all possible content, News Feed is designed to show each person on Facebook the content that’s most relevant to them. To choose which stories to show, News Feed ranks each possible story (from more to less important) by looking at thousands of factors relative to each person.”

Whilst Page posts reached up to 16 percent of a company’s fans in 2012, organic reach will now be reduced to 1 percent or 2 percent.

In fact, a recent report advised Facebook marketers to expect organic reach to approach zero by the end of this year.

So for example, when you publish a post, the first few of your followers who log onto Facebook will see it in their timeline. If they don’t immediately light up cyberspace with a blast of likes, comments and shares, Facebook takes this as a sign that your content is not relevant to anybody. The post is then hidden away from others unless they visit your page directly.

Obviously there is an alternative – that is, to pay to promote your posts.

This is something I believe can be incredibly powerful for businesses. For example, I can target one of our blog posts specifically to directors of accounting firms within 100 kilometres of Melbourne who are aged between 20-40. That’s stunning value for money, for such a refined target market.

At end of the day, Facebook is a business. Said succinctly here, “It’s easy to forget. It’s not a charity, or a non-profit, or an art project. Facebook has to make money like the Nikes of the world.”

My concern comes with the fact that the Facebook’s new methods leave you with no choice but to advertise if you want an audience beyond 1-2% percent. This is bad news for businesses that have spent many years collecting Facebook fans, unless they’re willing to start spending regularly to reach their audience. Whether you’re a huge brand with millions of likes, a small to medium business or a non-profit, this drop in organic reach will affect you.