While it took them almost a year to warm us all up to the idea, Facebook has finally thrown down the organic reach gauntlet publicly, saying that promotional brand page posts are going to be further filtered out of people’s newsfeeds. This, after the alleged September 2013 organic reach controversy that saw some brand post’s reach drop 50% or more from an already low level of exposure.
What Facebook is saying is that if you’re hocking your wares, users aren’t interested. Of course, Facebook benefits from the answer: Pay to promote those posts and ensure they reach a certain audience. But the truth of how the tool works is now clear: Facebook is a media outlet. In order to get your promotional content seen, you’re going to need to pay for the exposure.
Here’s where brands and pundits are getting what Facebook said all wrong, though. Facebook has never said that all brand posts are being turned off. It has specifically pointed outposts that:
- Solely push people to buy a product or install an app
- Push people to enter promotions and sweepstakes with no real context
- Reuse the exact same content from ads
This describes a lot less of your content than you think. If you’re sharing a thoughtful blog post from your company website, it doesn’t meet these filter standards. If you’re linking to a YouTube video of your company’s latest product line? Maybe … depending on the verbiage you use.
A post like this one from internal communications app Red e App (disclosure: a client) is a question mark.
The verbiage isn’t promotional for the app, but the link does lead back to the company site. It’s for a whimsical campaign the company is doing to bring attention to the disenfranchised workforce. But it doesn’t qualify under the three piece test Facebook outlined, so will it fly and get organic reach? We’ll see.
Certainly, Facebook’s job and promise to its users here is to filter out in a sophisticated manner. So, like web spam and the Google algorithm, Facebook’s algo team will consistently tweak and improve so the promotional stuff doesn’t get through.
But their job is to let the rich, customer-centric content slide, too.
At the end of the day, the truth is that organic reach isn’t dead. It’s just that brands will need to create interesting, compelling, conversational and customer-centric content to get it. You think brand pages like BuzzFeed are going to see organic reach loss? Think again.
You need content that stands out. If you’re not doing that now, you might need some help from someone who can.