Facebook’s Brian Boland has taken to a Facebook blog to talk about the decline of a post’s organic reach in the social network. In his role as VP Ads Product Marketing, he walked through the implications as organic reach becomes a less effective engagement tool.
Boland has suggested why brands should continue to engage in Facebook and gather fans, but the suggestions all feel rather ‘second tier’ to me; fans give you credibility; fans can offer insights into your customer base; fans can be used to create social context which improves auction price for advertising; and fans can make ads more effective when they interact with them, increasing the chances of them being shown on the news feeds of other fans.
Those last two points are my big takeaway. Not that fans can improve your adverts, but Facebook signalling that you should be using adverts around your brand on Facebook if you want to reach your fans and other users. For all the talk of improving the news feed and making it a more engaging place, these efforts are on making it a better place for users. Not for brands.
From Boland's Blog specifically:
There is now far more content being made than there is time to absorb it. On average, there are 1,500 stories that could appear in a person’s News Feed each time they log onto Facebook. For people with lots of friends and Page likes, as many as 15,000 potential stories could appear any time they log on.A Facebook presence still has a role to play in boosting your SEO via Open Graph Protocol. By associating your personal Facebook ID with your website, or individual pages within it, the site's content has more credibility as that created by a human being, rather than mass spam content from Timbuktu. Which can improve your search engine rankings and increase your visibility. It will also improve your site's appearance on Facebook or Google + if a visitor shares the info on their personal profile. Of course you can always pay for ad placement in Facebook and adjust your advertising budget accordingly.
As a result, competition in News Feed — the place on Facebook where people view content from their family and friends, as well as businesses — is increasing, and it’s becoming harder for any story to gain exposure in News Feed. In addition to the growth in content, people are also liking more Pages. Facebook’s director of product management for News Feed told TechCrunch this April the total number of Pages liked by the typical Facebook user grew more than 50% last year. With each new Page like, competition in News Feed increases even further.
The second reason 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. Of the 1,500+ stories a person might see whenever they log onto Facebook, News Feed displays approximately 300. 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.
But at the end of the day, whether your website makes sales or changes a visitor's mind on an issue, depends on the quality of what you say and the quality of the visual presentation. As usual, the techniques to get them through the website front door are constantly changing and require more than one approach, including the old-fashioned, in-person handshake.