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.
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.
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.