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Facebook Pages' Updated Organic-Reach-Crushing Algorithm, And What it Means for You

Facebook Pages' Updated Organic-Reach-Crushing Algorithm, And What it Means for You

As many of you who have your own photography pages probably already noticed, Facebook drastically changed their Pages organic reach algorithm on December 3, 2013. We have been living with the changes for a month, analyzing the effects on our brand and how it affects you, and the news isn’t good. With dramatic decreases in reach and engagement, our Facebook community is not nearly what it was. So what can you do about your own Pages?

Let’s first take a look at what the changes have done across the board, not just on Fstoppers. In a recent study by Ignite which included 21 brand pages of different sizes and across industries, they found a decline of “44% on average, with some pages seeing declines as high as 88%. Only one page in the analysis had improved reach, which came in at 5.6%.” That’s abysmal.

As we all know, Facebook wants us, and has wanted us, to pay to access the fans that some of us out there, including Fstoppers, have spent years fostering and growing (at Facebook’s continued insistence that fostering growth was pivotal). Though we weren’t happy about having to pay, we did understand it. We were ok with reaching most of our readers and paying to reach them all. That seemed fair.

Back before December 3, on average we organically reached about 42% of the Fstoppers followers. That’s pretty darn good. The ones that did not reach that many were perhaps less interesting articles, and then there were the hugely popular pieces that virally shared over hundreds of thousands of people, unpaid. That was also awesome, especially considering that there has been research that shows that organic content leads to better buying actions than paid reach. That also makes sense. None of us really LOVE being advertised to.

Let’s look at that Ignite study again, and see how bad the reach decline is for other brands:


Huge, huge declines. This is what Fstoppers has seen in the past month:

• 73% average drop in reach since December 3 (with the greatest drop at an astonishing 95%)
• 86% drop in engagement (likes, comments, shares)
• 7.4% average reach to followers, down from 42%

What’s most upsetting about the data from our Fstoppers account is who we are no longer reaching: our most engaged readers. According to a study by Forrester and Google-owned Wildfire, engaged users are a brand’s best customers (kind of a no-brainer if you think about it). They are the most likely to click and purchase. But our data has shown those engaged users no longer see our pages, and instead it appears those who now engage with our brand (the scant few) were not part of that “most engaged” group.

So not only is everything down, and down a considerable amount, but the people we would prefer to reach have almost no chance of seeing what we post.

So we should pay, right, in order to reach those people? Not necessarily. We have been shocked with the kind of interaction our posts have when we pour money into them. A vast number of the likes and comments come from completely left field.

example comments from paid distribution Fstoppers

Click through rate takes a dive, and we have lost thousands in what appears to be a Facebook black hole. Not to mention, the cost of paying to play is... well, it's a lot.

cost of distribution on Facebook fstoppers

To add salt to the wound, the amount of page moderation now required has dramatically increased. We have seen a large influx of spam on our page wall and in our page posts, increasing the time we need to spend on cleaning and maintaining our Facebook presence, yet receiving nearly no yields for the labor.

So what does this all mean? It means we are forced to diversify. Our Twitter is pretty awesome, and you can chat there directly with both me and Patrick. But also, we will be pouring a more concerted effort into our Google Plus. If you want to get updates from us, and we know many of you do because thousands of you treated your Facebook like a true news feed from us for breaking news and education, I suggest liking us both on Facebook and Google Plus, and trying to check Google Plus more frequently. G+ will only get better if we all contribute, and given that Facebook seems to get worse and worse for business as the months wear on, we’re basically given no choice but to jump ship, or at least share between the sites equally.

So back to my original question on what you can personally do? Help grow Twitter and G+, at least until Facebook realizes how they're squeezing us here isn't best for their bottom line. But if they don't change, it's really not worth the effort anymore.

As we put more effort into our other social channels, we will track those results and let you know how things look over the next couple months. Hopefully we can work together to find a solution that benefits everyone.

Jaron Schneider's picture

Jaron Schneider is an Fstoppers Contributor and an internationally published writer and cinematographer from San Francisco, California. His clients include Maurice Lacroix, HD Supply, SmugMug, the USAF Thunderbirds and a host of industry professionals.

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*shakes head in disapproval*

Seems like it is something with content and status posts especially. I noticed that when I posted photos from new year's, I received way more traffic than usual..hmmmm

Images always raise organic reach over just text and links, but our stats are specifically from image-shared posts. So the biggest traffic driver on FB is hampered significantly.

Why bother with it then? It may have been great while it lasted, but if it's not doing anything for you now, why not just kill it?

I think G+ is going to be the next best thing once more people embrace it. It's got to also help your website.

I've been enjoying G+ more and more lately as well. Only problem is lack of demographic diversity compared to Facebook. If I want to target other photographers it's fine but anything else and you're in trouble.

What a coincidence!
I totally randomly opened fstoppers to read this article, on another tab I had youtube open to watch something about retouching.and there I found your videos. I closed that tab later and then found your name here. What a small world this is... Thanks for your videos by the way, your techniques are really great and I learn a lot from them.

Haahaa, that is a coincidence Karin, small world indeed. Glad you found the videos helpful :)

Just understand that once G+ gains real traction they will be following FB's example. This is how they monetize their product outside of ad support.

I was just talking about it with some friends yesterday. Facebook has steadily been on the decline with use personally for my business and personal pages the last several months. I've been getting more use out of G+, too... the format is actually better, but the content still needs some work (aka too many reposts). I wrote a little about it if anyone wants to read: http://smithandfritzy.blogspot.com/2014/01/3-ways-to-get-more-with-Googl...

It would be better if I could "trust" and understand Google's privacy controls. It seems quite complicated and they lost a lot of my trust. I have no idea what I share as a person will end up where. I am sure I can if I put the energy in to it, but there is the "rub". And I am a computer person!

G+ needs to make a product that you can understand how to use it. It's not very intuitive.

The performance on my page seems to be following the same trend, although I've taken more steps recently to increase engagement. I agree with your call - without content, Facebook is the next MySpace. It seems reasonable at this point to diversify social sharing. If FB makes to pay, and the pay results suck, why bother.

Once they went public and started making changes to how content was shown, specially images, which get the most traffic, it really marked the time to pull the eject button. I deleted my FB account.
G+ has a lot of photographers enthusiast which have taken to it, so that seems like an option for now.
The truth is, that as far as we're using free services, they get to sell our data and do as they please with their service, the only power we have as users is to put the squeeze back on them by not using the service.

What's not really been covered is that this algorithm appears to be on a three month rotation.

I've several pages which suffered from the organic throttling that your talking about between September to December, however since early December two of them are absolutely flying - mostly thanks to Facebook's new Suggested Pages feature. One has risen from 80k to 180k and the other from 17k to 41k in just four weeks. I anticipate that this will last for two to three months again and then other pages will see a boost and mine will halt. In fact I know this will happen as pages which benefitted from the September to December algorithm are now suffering from throttling.

If this is true, I would be very interested to hear why it was implemented. It doesn't make sense from a user standpoint, as it should be based on individual profile likes and dislikes, not arbitrary choices by Facebook. Do you have anything to back up this statement other than personal observation?

I'd be happy to share some numbers and screen grabs over email Jaron (ill fire them over tomorrow, I still have your email) - I can tell you that around 80% of the new users we're seeing on both pages are coming via 'Mobile' and 'Suggested Pages' (mobile I'm taking to be the suggested pages feature, but accessed on a mobile device).

This is all an educated guess after all, but myself and a friend both own very similar pages that follow a niche motorsport - around September last year my page had 70k followers and his had 40k. Between the first week of September and the first week of December his page grew from 40k to 500k. Mine grew from 60k to 70k and not only that but our reach was well down on the usual. Since the first week of December my page is now growing at a rate of 3k to 5k new fans per day with massive reach, and he is reporting huge throttling - like Facebook suddenly pulled the plug. Around the same time my other page started growing hugely - we weren't posting any more or doing anything different, it just started picking up - again Suggested Pages and Mobile are the main sources of new fans.

It's interesting how your page garnered so many likes all of a sudden, but could it not just be coincidence? I'm with Jaron on this one. It doesn't really make any sense.

It could be coincidence sure, but I believe not. Based on the September-December boost that some pages benefitted from - that happened at the exact same time that some of my pages suffered from throttling. At that time my pages went through the exact same thing that many pages are experiencing now.

I might have an explanation. Stay tuned...

If you want a quick look in the meantime check out the 'Talking about' number on the Digital SLR Photography magazine Facebook page compared to the Fstoppers page - it's all out of wack! All of those 'Talking abouts' are people seeing our page via Suggested Pages I'm pretty sure.

This is a huge misconception. Organic reach is not dead. Watch this interview to find out more.


Wait, if that's true why do I have a post on my feed today (1/11 10:47PM) from a friend that was dated 1/9 12:30pm? I never commented on this post, never liked it. I'm not "following" this person, but a new post from a page (scientist, artist, company) that I like I don't see until I go to the page. Nope, not buying it.

You didn't watch the video, did you?

My page suffers from the same issue... it's kind of amazing to see how FB shoot themselves in the leg time after time - and each time they do so, they get closer to becoming irrelevant

It's been a double edged sword for me. My rate of acquiring page likes has increased a fair bit over the last month or two but post engagement is a lot lower so the net effect is still the same or worse.

I have seen an huge drop in the people seeing my post. I only have 103 likes as I do all volunteer work but it was normal for my photos to be viewed thousands of times in a week. In the last three weeks the best I have seen is about 90. I was thinking it was the holidays but in asking, allot of my followers are not seeing my post. Shame part is all the stuff I do is to help the performing arts or animal charities at no cost to them but Facebook keeps wanting me to pay to get hits.

G+ seems like a strange little animal to me. Im one that has tried and doesn't quite get it. They could be the next big thing if they only reorganize the structure for the mainstream. I made my FB page a little late in the game (about 1 1/2 years ago) and its tough building it. With the promote option in force it seems silly to put up content at all, especially after reading the results here. I truly think that putting a link from a blog or other resource is the way to go, but on my profile page. Ive been working that way for a while now. Would love to 86 the page, but can't quite pull that trigger. I run some big photography groups as well on FB. I do enjoy the interaction, but the spam has increased this past month expedentially. I am now forced to screen every profile before adding people. It really is getting stinky in FB land.

Screw Facebook Pages, and Facebook! Page Admins has no control .

I've been using Google+ since the beta, sharing my photography, music I like, technology news etc etc and I've racked up over 14,000 followers. It does work, it just isn't easy :/

FB have little interest in what the end user wants, this open, sharing notion has rapidly changed and will continue to do so, especially as they are looking to make money, and they are. That means the person looking to use it to promote their business had better look elsewhere or have a huge marketing budget.
G+ is an option but not one that the public have embraced as yet, so currently you are likely to be marketing to other photographers.
Twitter is still an open platform where you can direct your tweets and try to target a wider audience, especially if folks retweet for you, spreading your message.
But if we all switch to marketing on Twitter that too will change the nature of that tool and who chooses to view it.

What it does mean, is if there is a tec savvy company out there, there is a MASSIVE market wanting your services to direct their products to the people.


I've deleted my Facebook pages - the change was too drastic to keep up. I'm now concentrating on Twitter and looking into G+

Still not sure if they think people will pay those fees to 'promote' pages, but this could be the MySpace moment, for businesses anyway

Dear mates, I want to ask you for a help, I need your support, Help to self publish a unique Photography Book -Women,portraits and nudes


I know this sounds thick and sorry about this. Is this just for photographers? I have never heard of G+. I had a Twitter account but didn't really use it as wasn't sure how :/

If you have a gmail account you probably have a G+ waiting for you. Its for everyone.

I am admin of a 60k local radio facebook page and i am very interested in what you say!

i did a not very long research and found a good blog entry talking about the same subject!

I realy like how he ended the subject :

Bottom Line: Don’t Chase an Algorithm

Many of the complaints from admins stem from a feeling that they once
again need to change their approach. They’ve been told that sharing
memes is the way to go. That they should ask for comments, likes and
shares to get more engagement and get shown more often in the News Feed.

Here lies the problem. When you approach publishing this way, you
prioritize the algorithm over the content. Screw the algorithm. Forget
about it.

Focus on creating content that people like. Focus on the people, not the algorithm.

As SEOs will attest, you are fighting with fire when you chase an
algorithm. It is evidence that you lack confidence in the depth and
value of what you have to offer.

Know when your Fans are online. Know what they like. Know what they
need. And provide them something that makes their lives better.


I've to disagree with you. I own a more than 6 big fan pages and the content doesn't mean everything alone. Even if your contents are unique and awesome you can't reach even 10% of your fans.

My smallest page:

i understand what you mean! but :) for exemple if the content is always good the fans wont wait for a FB post to come to you they will come on there own! exemple i probably dont see all the fstoppers FB posts but i know that they have new stuff on the site every day so for myself and surely many more people even if facebook would not exist i would always go to fstoppers on my own to see the new content cause they are stable on content that is specific for photographers videographers etc...!

i hope you understand what i mean english is my second language :)

I am very late in the game adding a page on Facebook and it is a daunting task to get anywhere with it. At times it feels like wasting time and after this read I can see why. With G+ I have gained a pretty good following in the same amount of time, but I kind of feel like a lot of the followers are like the ones paid for on Facebook(I got a free $50 for advertising).
I like to think of social media like this: Facebook is the past, Instagram and Twitter are the present, and G+ is the future maybe.

We ( DUB05 ) have the same. Went from 2.000.000 to about 400.000 weekly. But we do it for fun so we never going to pay. I am afraid that facebook i slowly getting over his top a will drop fast if there will come somthing new.

It looks like good old fashioned relationship building / word of mouth is still king.

What's even worse is that it takes so much effort to even find the list of pages I "liked" in the first place so that I could add them to my "get notifications" list. Being a small business owner is really way harder than it used to be.

Have you guys thought about switching over to MySpace?

This article is SPOT. ON. And I can also tell you my brand has suffered as a result of the blatant attempt of Facebook to choke the life out of brands that they encouraged to grow by being a bunch of greedy, selfish, money-grubbing so and so's. And it all started with the IPO.

We started our automotive media outlet 7Tune in 2005 and our Facebook page in 2012 and over the past 2 years we've grown that page to almost 170,000 organic unpaid fans. I abhor paid fans and your post illustrates the point.

The difference for us was that these fans were engaged on huge levels and we developed a thriving community with those people through engagement, entertainment, camaraderie and first class content. Before Facebook changed the algorithm, we were seeing posts hit thousands of likes and hundreds of comments and shares. Our viral content was hitting millions of people and generating thousands of shares and comments. We were growing at a rate of up to 5% a month and I was happy with that.

Then December hit us and it angered me to the core. Overnight, our reach was essentially cut in half and engagement dropped off a cliff. Our posts weren't being shared, liked or commented on.

The people we once had were being flooded with advertising bullshit from other companies paying Facebook on huge levels to get these people to see them... and that squeezed us out.

It's disingenuous for Facebook to foster empathy, support and goodwill only to turn and stab you in the back.

We've worked bloody hard over the last 2 years and it feels as though that effort was somewhat wasted. What was it all for?

And to add what you termed as "salt to the wound", I've seen other pages, pages that post nothing but everyone else's content; pages that were absolutely nowhere in comparison to us at 7Tune suddenly and inexplicably gather up to a million likes overnight.

The Facebook algorithm shift was an indiscriminate killer for some and boon for others. Inexplicably we got NO benefit even though we post our own content and these other pages benefitted MASSIVELY and profited off the random number generator in kind.

That said, we still aggressively reach our fans through interesting content but it's hit and miss. Some posts get 500 likes... others get 3000 (depending on the content) and on these good posts I can reach up to 30% of my fan base but with 170,000 fans you would be expecting a lot more...

And I pay to play - albeit in smaller doses when we have a product to market but even then, Facebook is a scam and the people they promoted my post to were'nt even fans of my brand to begin with.

I wanted to reach MY fans - NOT the people Facebook wanted to see the post who don't even know what we are to begin with. I wasn't trying to find these people, I wasn't trying to buy any fans... I was TRYING to reach the people I HAVE on the page and Facebook straight up ripped me off. Out of the 170 countries we reached my PAID advertising went to THREE of them.

We're disillusioned with Facebook and if they don't change we'll give them the middle finger salute and look elsewhere. The new MySpace is also looking interesting...

FStoppers. You're a business, so just assign some ad spend to make up the shortfall in reach/engagement. Maybe take some of the revenue from the masses of GDN ads you have on your site.

You didn't see the part where they said that when they did this, they got crazy comments, or in other words, ad spend is worthless? "We have been shocked with the kind of interaction our posts have when we pour money into them. A vast number of the likes and comments come from completely left field."

And they even included a picture. :)

Thanks for the timely info. I'll check you guys out on Google+

My facebook page, with its piddly 700 likes, hasn't had any interaction in a long time, since even before December. I actually stopped updating because I felt it almost wasn't worth it, and have gone to more along the lines of using twitter and utilizing my facebook as only personal.

Why spend the time to update facebook when it's basically wasted time?

Facebook business pages are a joke now, and FB is going to lose lose lose in the end. :/ I sort of think this sucks, because if they had their crap together I would have no problem with paying. Not going to pay for something that has consistently gotten worse though... :/

Facebook = Myspace of the future.

OH NO!! We're now forced to pump out quality content?? THIS IS HORRIBLE!!! ................. not.

Because that's what this is about.

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