Facebook: The Organic Reach Strikes Back

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What if Facebook Organic Reach could be saved by the power of Zen?

Last week was tuning in my one of my favourite podcasts called the Social Media Marketing podcast (I talked about my bookmarkable* podcasts here). The episode was all about the ‘Decline of Facebook Marketing’  that affected small and big businesses alike in the past few months. As you can read in FB’s own Newsroom (if you didn’t know about this little friend, it may be the time to bookmark it) in December 2013 the famous algorithm changed again, and not for good unfortunately. Michael Sletzner  is backed up by  Mari Smith (co-author of Facebook Marketing: An Hour a Dayand Jay Baer (author of Youtility: Why Smart Marketing Is About Help Not Hype) in an exploration on how to conquer Facebook’s new algorithm, and how this will affect your Facebook strategy and beyond. Almost an hour of great insights, examples, and tips – and suddenly you wish to be a bit like Russel Crowe in a Beautiful Mind.  Sadly most of us are not. That’s why my aim today is to pick up a few of the most useful lessons from the episode. Let’s start from the beginning, shall we?

On December 5th an AdAge article stated:

“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.”

A tsunami of terror and distress just hit the joyful digital marketers before a well deserved Christmas break, and yet most of us are struggling to find the right combo to rise from the ashes of organic reach. (I am being extremely theatrical right now, bear with me).

From December on, Facebook announced a dramatic change to its well-known EdgeRank, in order to give more relevance to article, and less weight to the old time favourite memes. This was just one of the  measures  to enhance users’ experience, alongside with favouriting friends and family of users, diminishing the impact of brands’ updates in the Newsfeed.

Starting with Jay’s quite vivid parallelism between Facebook and MySpace, the discussion clarifies how the process from free to paid came quite naturally, and it should not be treated as a complete surprise after all. In my opinion, with such a saturation of data and the alleged ‘teenage leak’ in the Social Network, it was just a matter of time before Facebook started companies by offering them maximised reach through Advertising.

Going against the wide of horror and despair, I find this change rather exciting. Firstly this all ‘phenomen’ helped marketers shift their perceptive not only in the way they deliver their message on Facebook, but also on budgeting and general focus in their whole strategy. Mari’s strong position on the importance of brand loyalty over reach reiterates the key role of community management (yes, some people still undervalue this quite a lot), and how marketers are now forced to shape and create the most engaging content yet. Weren’t they doing that already, you may ask? As a marketer myself, I still feel that most of the companies are underestimating the negative effect of blunt ‘hooks’ (to use Gary Vee’s terminology) on their community and the importance of brand loyalty at the core of it (yes, of course I am thinking of  Oreo  – you saw that coming)*. Practically speaking, if you have to pay to be seen, focus on what your community wants to see – watch out for the rise promoted posts, that’s all I am saying.

If you are waiting for the Holy Grail of Organic Reach, well you may be waiting in vane. It’s hard to advise people right now, because even the professionals don’t really know. Everybody is trying to crack the code, but it is still going to be a while before you’ll see it shared in an infographic.  Despite not having the solution at their fingertips, the podcast helps us reflecting on how Media in its nature is highly changeable, and this example is just a proof of its behaviour. What can we learn from the ‘Decline of the Organic Reach’ then?

Firstly, there are so many other platforms to actively experiment with, and put our resources and budget in. A really interesting source mentioned by Michael is Perfect Audience: the service not only focuses on keywords, but also makes the most of other targeting capabilities by event tracking and other goals.

Community management and its analysis is extremely relevant to this extent. From Facebook’s insights ‘Talking About This” (focus on your fans though, not the users) to external services, numbers can actually be our friends – Mari mentions Social Bakers‘ ‘Socially Devoted’ metric. Yep, quite a winner name I know. Moreover, the website offers reports on big brands’ analysis and implementation, which can be quite useful also for small business to reflect on trends and shift in the market on different scales (Socially Devoted Q4 Results).

As in most of things in life, you can decide to be panicking, or just taking this  change as an exciting challenge to reassess your own strategy and create even more engaging content. From a Zen point of view, quite frankly I am glad that the Content is in ‘Shock’ and Organic Reach is ‘Declining’. Without such shakes, probably most of the brands won’t feel the urge to craft every single post as their best yet, and would still rely on what works for everybody else. For a perfectionist, that’s a daily struggle.

If my little rant tickled your curiosity, now you can listen to the full episode here. Beware, pen and paper will be quite handy for this one.

Love and good vibes,


I am quite proud of my punchy headlines.

* I do have a ‘thing’ for neologisms. It may be my linguistics background.
*Here we go with the brackets. Never enough asides (does this count as an aside? Oh dammit.)
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