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Chintan’s blog: Is Facebook organic reach heading to zero per cent?

Chintan TBIA

What does the social network’s algorithm change on promotional content mean for brands?

In end-November 2014, Facebook announced a change in its algorithm that is bound to have a huge impact on the promotional content published by brand pages. How does the change impact brands and marketers? Are all the brand pages doomed?

What’s the new update all about?

As per Facebook: “As part of an ongoing survey we asked hundreds of thousands of people how they feel about the content in their News Feeds. People told us they wanted to see more stories from friends and Pages they care about, and less promotional content.”

What does it mean and what’s the catch here?

Before we dive deeper, please to note that this applies only to the organic content, not to the content promoted with the FB ads. Now, since we have this point clarified, let’s take a look at what Facebook considers as being promotional:

  1. Posts that solely push to buy a product or install an application
  2. Posts that push people to enter mindless promotions and contests without any real context
  3. Posts that use exactly the same content from the ads

An example of this type of page post: (via Facebook Newsroom)

Ex 1

Another example:

Ex 2

Facebook says that “While Pages that post a lot of the content we mention above will see a significant decrease in distribution, the majority of Pages will not be impacted by this change.” It also tells me that if a page’s fans consistently ‘Like’ or click on the ‘spammy’ posts, Facebook will keep showing them the hard-sell marketing messages.

Reading between the lines: This roughly means that the Facebook users will see a lot lesser content from the brands, which is promotional in nature on their news feeds beginning January 2015.

Does it affect the ads shown on the news feed? Well, there’s no surprise here. It won’t cease showing fewer ads in the news feed. If you have been identified by the brand as a ‘Target Audience’, you are bound to see the targeted ads.

All said and done, how does it affect the brands and marketers?

Every brand enters the social media game with a sole purpose of leveraging the platform for gaining more exposure for their brands. Frankly, there is no other reason why a business or a brand should be present on site like Facebook for any other reasons than promotion.

The most difficult part for Facebook is going to be the deciding factor and categorising the posts between promotional and others. Besides that, “One person’s promotion is another person’s inspiration,” as pointed out by an expert.

This change leaves the brand owners and the business with only three options really.

  1. Start producing unique and inherently shareable content that resonates well with your target audience and incites them to take actions like liking and commenting on the content
  2. Maintain an ideal balance in the posting patterns and cut down on the promotional activities on their pages and spamming the news feed of the people who had initially liked them
  3. The most important one, play into the hands of Facebook Inc. and start that paid media plan that you had been sitting on for long

Bottom-line!

Personally, I tend to agree with the changes made by Facebook to their algorithm. This will force marketers and brands to think outside the box and start from the basics of social media. This leaves them with no choice, but to create content that engages and educates the users and makes it all about the users rather than selling their products all the time.

I am sure that there is going to be a huge outrage over this, and there should be, but consider this to be a blessing in disguise. This will help in brands and businesses pushing their limits and come up with original and unique content that actually engages the user and does not just sell your product. After all, this is what social media is all about, isn’t it?

Most of the brands have been ‘Doing Social’ so far. These changes rolled out by Facebook will teach them on how to ‘Be Social’.

You Turn.

What are your thoughts on this update? Is it a blessing or a curse?

(The author Chintan Padhya is head digital strategy at The Big Idea Advertising)

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