facebook advertising

Facebook Organic Reach – What Recent Changes to the Facebook News Feed Algorithm Mean For You

The Facebook news feed is changing, and it's going to have a huge impact on us as business owners. From now on, you’ll start seeing more posts from friends, family, and Facebook groups, and less content from businesses.

This is in response to recent backlash over research showing that social media — Facebook included — is bad for our well-being. To fix that, Mark Zuckerberg wants to ensure that Facebook is a place where we can feel good. A place that is good for our well-being.

Based on feedback from the community, Facebook knows that public content — posts from businesses, brands, and media — is crowding out the personal moments and the things that lead us to connect with each other.

Facebook believes it’s those personal connections that make us happy, and they want to change this imbalance in the news feed. They want to make it so that we see less public content, and more content from friends, family, and groups.

So … should you be worried? Does this mean Facebook business pages are dead? And what, if anything, can you do to stay relevant on Facebook in 2018?

I’ll cover each of those questions and more in this post.

I also discussed this in a recent video. If you’d prefer to watch that, you can check it out here:

I'll start by saying that I don't think there's any reason to panic.

Honestly, I think organic page reach has been dying for years. It's been slowly decreasing for a long time. This is mostly because a lot of businesses aren't using Facebook the way that Facebook wanted them to.

Currently, less than 5% of your page fans will see your posts.

This drop in reach has also coincided with a drop in post engagement, as seen in this chart from Buzzsumo (one of my favorite tools):

Low Facebook Engagement Chart from Buzzsumo

Facebook average organic post engagement. Image: Buzzsumo

The Facebook news feed algorithm has been evolving to favor engaging, relevant content, and most businesses haven’t kept up. They’ve ignored the subtle hints from Facebook, and have been slowly paying the price with lower organic reach.

This announcement confirms that it’s only going to get harder to earn a spot in the Facebook news feed. That is, unless you adapt and change the way you use the platform as a business owner.

They've also said that posts on your business page will be held to the same standard as what they expect to see from family, friends, and groups. So the content that you post on your page needs to encourage meaningful interactions between people, just like what posts on your Facebook personal profile would do. That's the whole goal here, to encourage interactions between people, and to encourage engagement.

They want to stop that passive scrolling through the news feed, clicking on the odd article, skimming through it, maybe passively watching a video, and continuing to scroll. They want to create community and engagement. As a result, they're going to prioritize personal content, because that's what they've seen generates engagement, community, and connection between people.

So let's pause for a second and just talk about what all this means.

My honest view on this is, you simply need to adapt. Facebook has told us what they want us to do. That leaves us with a choice:

  1. Keep doing the same thing we’ve done for years and watch our organic reach wither and die
  2. Adapt. Do more of what Facebook AND OUR CUSTOMERS want by creating better, more engaging original content and continue to benefit from Facebook as a way to reach our audiences.

So as long as you’re willing to put in the work to adapt and evolve, then I really don’t think there’s anything to worry about.

What Do You Need To Do To Stay Relevant in the Facebook News Feed?

So let’s talk about a few specific things you’ll need to do in order to stay relevant in the Facebook news feed, and to make sure that your page doesn't die out. Because I honestly don't think it has to die out, you just have to change the way you use it.

First, let’s revisit what Facebook has told us — you'll see fewer posts from Facebook business pages in your feed and you’ll see more from friends, family, and Facebook groups.

The big thing to take note of there is that Facebook groups will be given high priority in the Facebook news feed. So that should have you considering whether a Facebook group is right for your business, and if so, maybe it’s time to set one up! Building a community inside a Facebook group can be a really effective way to build trust and authority, and it also makes selling much easier.

Here’s a great video from my friend and Facebook group expert, Caitlin Bacher that will help you decide if a Facebook group is right for you:

Let’s get back to Facebook business pages.

We now know that if we want our posts to be seen, they need to be engaging. They need to be more human. And they need to be conversational.

But this wasn’t always the case…

There was a time on Facebook where you could create a business page and generate a lot of free website traffic quite easily. All you needed to do was post links to your blog and the traffic would flow.

But once businesses figured out that that was a great way to generate traffic, they started taking shortcuts.

They started churning out automated, repetitive posts with nothing more than a link to a blog article.

As a result, our Facebook news feeds became full of posts from business pages that we either ignored, or clicked and left the Facebook platform. Neither are a great outcome for the user or for Facebook.

And therein lies the problem. The whole point of automating posts is to reduce workload by removing the human element. But by removing the human element, you’re going against what Facebook wants.

Posts attract little engagement because they aren’t noteworthy and don’t promote discussion. Even worse, businesses aren’t engaging with people who do comment on the posts because the page is on autopilot…

Here’s an example. Not to pick on Matthew — I actually really like his blog posts, but this type of posting strategy on Facebook just isn’t going to cut it anymore. On a page with 32,000 fans, this one garnered just 14 ‘likes’ and 2 comments:

Example Facebook post that won't do well in the new Facebook News Feed

And that's exactly what Facebook wants to get rid of. Passive content in the news feed that's just there to attract clicks. It's been happening for a long time. It doesn't add any value to the platform. It’s just autopilot, repetitive content, businesses leveraging the platform as a traffic source. It doesn't create that community or personal engagement that Facebook wants.

This means if you're a page owner, you need to shift to posting more meaningful content,  content that starts conversations and encourages discussion.

Danielle LaPorte is doing it right. Personal, thought-provoking, and inspiring. Look at the engagement from her community:

Example Facebook post that will do well in the new Facebook news feed

Facebook Live is another classic example. If you're looking at your Facebook news feed and you're seeing lots of people doing live videos talking about this most recent Facebook announcement, most of those are smart business page owners creating conversation around a hot topic.

It's going to be much more about live video and long format content on your page than it has been in the past.

So at the most basic level, these Facebook news feed changes mean you'll need to start posting relevant, entertaining, educational, or informative content. It means getting in there and replying to every single comment on a post on your page, and you should be replying to inbox messages, too. You should be engaging like you do with friends on your personal profile.

It's not the end of the world, it just means you have a little bit more work. It means you have to be present.

I'm not stressed about it. I don't think you should be stressed about it. I think you just need to learn that you're going to have to jump in there and actually start to treat it as a community and start to engage.

The Opportunity in the New Facebook News Feed

If you look at this the right way, you’ll see that this presents an opportunity for us.

Let’s dig a little further into the announcement from Facebook. Here’s an extract from it:

“There are many tight knit communities around TV shows and sports teams. We've seen people interact way more around live videos than regular ones. Some news helps start conversations on important issues, but too often today, watching video, reading news or getting a page update is just a passive experience.”

Firstly, consider the idea that many tight knit communities form around TV shows and sports teams.

Facebook has responded to this by adding an entire new section to the platform featuring episodic video content. These are regular TV shows happening right on the Facebook platform.

They’re “all in” on high quality video content. And they're saying that the reason is because that content creates tight knit communities, which makes us as users happy, which in turn results in us spending more time on the platform.

Next, Facebook said that they see people interact way more around live videos than regular ones. So they're telling us they like regular shows and they like live video.

“We've seen people interact way more around live videos than regular ones.”

If that's not an indicator that they really like regular Facebook Live video shows, I don't know what is.

There lies the opportunity: Regular, live video content that encourages the audience to come back on a regular basis, and that encourages engagement and brings together a community.

Here’s a look at results from my last 4 live videos.

My page only has 1,000 fans, but with just 4 live videos, I’ve had over 10,400 video views and people have spent a cumulative total of 14,700 minutes watching those videos. Not bad reach if you ask me.

Analytics showing increased reach in the Facebook news feed for Facebook Live videos

If we dig into what Mark Zuckerberg has said, then I think that's your answer. I think there's no need to stress. Most of all, it just means that we need to start creating higher quality, more engaging content. This is nothing new. There's been a push towards this type of content for awhile now. This is the final shove to force people to get on board or get left behind.

My advice is that regular Facebook Live videos are the way to go. Create regular posts that provide value and start conversations. And don’t stop there. You then need to engage with your audience. Reply to every single person that comments using open-ended questions, and reply to your inbox messages.

And when you do reply, don’t just reply with “thanks!” or “okay cool!” Have a discussion with people, create that sense of community to get people coming back. It's simply about engaging and being present. It means thinking about your business page and treating it as you would your personal profile.

Summary

Contrary to what people are saying, these Facebook news feed changes are not the end of the world.

If you've got a Facebook business page, it's not just going to become some tool used for advertising. You just need to change the way you do it.

Forget the queued up links to blog posts that just cycle through constantly. Produce content that people engage in. Simple as that. Get on there, be present, and more engaging.

Now when it comes to ads, Facebook has said that's not changing. The way Facebook ads work isn't changing and the way people get shown your ads isn't changing. This conversation is about organic page posts and organic reach.

Like I said, don't stress. It's not the end of the world, your business page will continue to exist and I actually think it's a good thing. There's a lot of people who won't adapt to this change. If you're one of the ones that do, you stand to benefit more than the people who do nothing.

I’d love to hear your thoughts about this. Are you worried about your own page? How are you going to approach this? I really would love to hear more about what other business owners are thinking about this, and how you're going to personally approach it. Drop me a comment below and let me know!