Have you been posting to Facebook on a regular basis, but confused on why your posts are receiving less engagement? The likes, shares, and comments have decreased, but you are posting as often or more than you used to? It is not your content, it’s Facebook.
Facebook recently made a change to their Edgerank algorithm that greatly reduces the number of your existing fans that see you status updates in their newsfeed. In the press release, Facebook uses a slightly confusing statement to explain the change:
“We expect organic distribution of an individual page’s posts to gradually decline over time as we continually work to make sure people have a meaningful experience on the site.”
The more telling part of the statement from the Facebook rep which reveals the real reasoning and true intentions of the change by Facebook is when he stated:
“We are getting to a place where because more people are sharing more things, the best way to get your stuff seen if you’re a business is to pay for it.”
Very disappointing change when you consider the huge amount of time and money that has been invested in developing large followings on Facebook . The belief was that you could promote your Facebook page and grow your audience that you could promote content to many times in the future. With this latest change, unless you are buying ads, the number of fans that will see your status updates drops below 5%. If it was difficult to calculate a ROI when most of the followers of a page saw a post, it does not take rocket science to calculate the ROI when less than 5% of the people see a post.
To illustrate what this change looks like using real numbers, I reviewed the fan counts for 10 of the Top 100 Hospital Fan Pages to get an idea of the reach of each post after this change. Here are my findings:
As you can see, this is a very disappointing change when you consider that of the active Facebook hospital pages on the Hospital Social Media List, less than 100 hospital pages have more than 20,000 fans. This is what it looks like for most Facebook pages:
So what does this mean for hospital marketers?
In my 2014 Predictions for Hospital Marketers, I stated that a reduced focus on social media was on the horizon and this was the biggest reason for my prediction. As Facebook moves closer to a totally paid platform for business pages, then it opens the question if Facebook is the best place for the marketing investment. My early opinion is no, it is not the best place. Sure you can market to a very specific audience with the many targeting options, but you are also marketing to them at a time where “user intent” is very low.
Here are two recommendations that I would make for using Facebook as it is today:
Promoted Posts – From working with client accounts, promoted posts increase shares, likes, and comments more than regular posts. This is mainly due to the frequency which is where a user sees the same posts multiple times. You can spend up to $100 to promote a post, so it is worth it to pay for distribution if you are posting a few times per week. If you are posting multiple times per day, then you will need to be a little more strategic about which posts you promote unless your budget can support promoting every post. In all cases, the posts that your promote should include either an image or a video, a strong call to action, and a link back to your own website.
Actively Request Shares – If you are going to gain back some of the reach that Facebook has taken away, you will need some help. The most cost effective way to do that is ask the people that see your post to share it with their timeline. This is as simple as adding “please share” or “Please pass this along” to the end of the text of your post. Only a small percentage will actually share the post, but depending on the number of fans of your page, you have exponentially increased the reach of your post without any additional investment.
Many said they could predict that Facebook would eventually make this change, especially after becoming a publicly traded company. I think it has much further implications than just how many people see your posts. To me it is quickly raises the question of how much time and money should be invested in developing audiences on platforms that you do not own. As companies like Twitter and Pinterest mature, I expect them to make similar moves. It is no doubt that the audiences of these sites are huge, but with the change that Facebook made it significantly reduces the value of the pages that have been developed.
Has the Facebook Edgerank change and the decrease in reach of your posts caused you to rethink or change your Facebook strategy?