Facebook are you my friend or my foe? will facebook’s new changes make it harder for you to grow your organisation?

“Sometimes I just want to scream and punch facebook in the face!”

I laughed and snorted my coffee.

We were in a local cafe and one of my client’s was frustrated after reading about Facebook’s new changes. After we laughed a little more and the frustration settled, my client earnestly asked,

“What are we going to do?”

I replied,

“Pretty much what we have always done. We continue to create and curate interesting and helpful content that engages our key audiences. We keep engaging in conversation, and we may also need to ramp up our paid advertising a little. Then we monitor and adjust and monitor and adjust like we have always done. So don’t worry too much.”

She sighed and said,

“Ok, that sounds like a good plan, but I still want to punch facebook in the face-book!”

She’s a great client and humour goes a long way with me.

When I returned to the office I sent her a link to the following article by Scott Ayres from www.postplanner.com. It’s a more sophisticated response to mine that I thought she might find helpful. And I thought you might find helpful too.

Here is a summarised version of the article, and you can find the full version here 

Did Facebook Just Put ALL Social Media Managers Out of Work?

In light of recent changes to the Facebook news feed algorithm (formerly EdgeRank) – most page owners are seeing a decline in the reach of their posts.

Does this mean social media managers everywhere are at risk of losing their jobs?

Yes, says Business Insider blogger Nicholas Carlson,

“Facebook brand pages are suddenly getting a lot less traffic, and it’s threatening the entire social media marketing industry.”

He speculates that changes to the Facebook news feed algorithm will kill the “social media manager” industry & put a lot of people out of work.

Is Carlson correct?… or is he straight up tripping?

Let’s first see what a few others are saying about the decline in Reach.

Melanie Dodaro of Top Dog Social Media had this to say. She says Facebook is holding fans “hostage”:

“I’m going to use an analogy to describe what Facebook is currently doing. Imagine you had an email service that could bring you a new email subscriber for $1 per subscriber. Once the subscriber is inside your database, they are yours to promote and market to until they decide to opt out (if that ever happens).

Now let’s imagine once you got your email subscriber list built up, the service provider decided to charge you to send them an email. Not just one email but every single email you ever send.

This really describes how the death of Facebook organic reach has occurred. We used to hear that page posts only reached 16% of the audience. At this point, that would be 9 times the amount of reach the average page is currently seeing.

If we only knew then that we would be looking back at 16% as the good old days…”

Others are sick of hearing people complain about Reach or talk about it at all:

In Defense of Reach

I’m a big fan of the Reach stat & I’ve defended often.

Knowing how many fans you’re reaching with your posts gives you a better understanding of when & what to post.

For example, if posting at 1pm nets you a Reach of 100 people, but 4pm nets you a Reach of 300 people —  you should probably post at 4pm.

Is the Reach stat flawed?

Of course! But all stats on Facebook are flawed.

For example, comparing the reach of one post to another will always be imprecise — because there are just too many variables at play on a minute-by-minute basis. That’s why comparing the results of a post you made today to a post you make tomorrow will never be apples to apples.

That said, tracking your Reach is a smart idea — because it helps you at least figure out the timing of your posts.

So what caused all the fuss?

The reason I’m talking about this & writing my 2nd post in a week about Facebook Reach, is because of this recent statement from Facebook:

People are connecting and sharing more than ever. On a given day, when someone visits News Feed, there are an average of 1,500 possible stories we can show.

As a result, competition for each News Feed story is increasing. Because the content in News Feed is always changing, and we’re seeing more people sharing more content, Pages will likely see changes in distribution. For many Pages, this includes a decline in organic reach. We expect this trend to continue as the competition for each story remains strong and we focus on quality.

As the dynamic nature of News Feed continues to follow people’s patterns of sharing, Page owners should continue using the most effective strategy to reach the right people: a combination of engaging Page posts and advertising to promote your message more broadly. Advertising lets Pages reach the fans they already have and find new customers as well. The fans you have matter. In addition to being some of the most loyal customers, fans also make the advertising on Facebook even more effective.

Ultimately, what’s good for people on Facebook is good for the businesses that use Facebook to reach and engage them. One of the ways we maintain a good balance between the two is by making sure News Feed is as interesting and timely as possible. We’ll continue to provide updates about how News Feed works, so stay tuned.

In other words, posts from your fan pages may be seen by fewer people as Facebook attempts to maintain a good experience for its users.

This is a good thing — so embrace it!

A better user experience means more users will be on Facebook more often — and can then be exposed to your ads more often!

Yes, I said “ads”

If you really think about it, any post you make from a business page is an ad — even if it’s posted for engagement & not sales. As we all know, some of the best marketing doesn’t sell, but rather just promotes brand awareness or good will toward a brand.

Just look at the recent Christmas Surprise Santa stunt by WestJet that went viral. Did WestJet technically try to sell anything in this video? Nope. But you’ll remember their brand now because of the amazing stunt they pulled off.

It’s the same with your page posts. Maybe today you post a great photo of a cat that goes viral, and then tomorrow you post about a special.

The post about the cat gets 100 Likes & comments — but no sales. And then the post about the special gets 15 Likes & no comments — but 2 people buy. Both posts are “ads”, if we’re being honest. They were posted to expose your business to more people & cause them to know, like & trust you.

Hopefully you’re catching my drift here. Posts by business pages on Facebook are ALL ads.

So it was great when free ads were reportedly reaching 16% of our fans — even if people scoffed at it. But we shouldn’t be surprised that exposure for the same free ads (posts) has declined.

The space is getting crowded & we thus have fewer opportunities to display free ads to our fans & other Facebook users. And it thus makes sense that we now have to spend money to expose our advertising to more people.

I equate Facebook to a newspaper that gets published constantly.

In my hometown we have a small paper that publishes twice per week. I still buy it, and it’s still read by most of our community. For 75 cents you can see what’s going on around town & maybe a picture of your kid at a local sporting event.

Local businesses fight over the ad space — and there is no shortage of companies willing to advertise in the paper. Why? Because it’s proven & effective for our area — even in 2013.

But certain parts of the paper get overcrowded with ads, while other pages have only a few. The front page for example usually has a few ads at the bottom. Just 4 ads on the entire front page. Compare that to a page in the middle of the paper that is full of ads:

As a reader, which ads are you more likely to notice?

Probably the ones on the front page that aren’t bombarding you. In fact, I’d bet hardly anyone even reads the 2nd page since it’s overrun with ads.

The same is true with Facebook.

If the news feed is overrun by posts from businesses, people will skip over them, or worse: stop logging in. That’s why it’s so important for Facebook to show a nice mix of posts from friends, family AND fan pages in the news feed.

So no, not all of your fans will see your posts. Only those fans most engaged with your page will see your content — and isn’t that better anyway?

If people aren’t engaging with your posts, who cares if they see them? They aren’t taking action & likely aren’t among your paying customers.

And now — if you want more of your followers & fans to see your ads (posts) — you’ll need to spend money either with a Boosted Post or Sponsored Story.

Will Social Media Managers soon be out of work?

Going back to my original question — is Business Insider’s Nicholas Carlson correct? Is this “drastic” drop in Reach going to kill an entire industry?

It’s a bold statement.  And I agree with him when he says that getting paid to run a page for a business has gotten tougher. It’s not just about cute kitten posts & getting tons of Likes & comments anymore — although that stuff can be crucial at times.

Social media managers now need to be more creative with their posts & have a better understanding of Facebook reporting metrics, tools & Facebook ads.

My prediction is that better reporting tools combined with more news feed competition & lower reach will result in many weaker social media management agencies going under.  They just won’t be able to hide behind the vagueness of what they do anymore — or the lack of measurable results.

That said, I think the focus of social media managers will need to shift away from Reach, Likes or comment counts — and toward link clicks & lead gen numbers.

Are people buying more from the business you represent as a result of your finely crafted Facebook posting strategy? Or are you just entertaining people who have no intention of opening their wallets?

If you’re just entertaining people, then you may be out of work pretty soon.

But if you’re focusing on the correct metrics — and improving them — then you should be fine.

And you may consider charging more for your services since Facebook marketing will continue to become more difficult for businesses to do on their own.

The social media management industry is not dead — but it will be losing some dead weight in the coming months.


Darryn Altclass

Brand & Marketing Consultant at The Learning Community

I am very lucky to work as a Brand & Marketing Strategist for a number of small businesses in Sydney - XYZ, The Learning Community and Website in a Weekend. All my work is focussed on telling the right story to the right people on the right platforms to get the right action. And I feel very blessed as I absolutely love what I do.

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Wendy Huang

Wendy Huang , Full Time Blogger and YouTuber at A Custom Blog in 4 Minutes

I really loved this article, as a "social media manager" myself I believe that we have a long way to go before our roles are defined. I feel that in the future there will be a lot more emphasis on video and other forms of media, not just Facebook. And as SnapChat Instagram and other social media sites pop up, it'll be our job to stay on top of them and identify any possible opportunities for the brands we work for as well as try unique strategies unique to different platforms. As long as social media is still being used by the majority of the population we'll still have jobs, but only if we open our minds to more then just "Facebook". To be quite honest Facebook is one of my least favourite social sites at the moment. For SavvySME Facebook actually has very little of my focus when it comes to resources because this "money sucking: behaviour started a while ago, so I felt that being a start-up it was going to be a strain of our resources to rely on Facebook. We've concentrated a lot more on twitter, Google+ and now focussing on video and YouTube. It's a shame really because it really isn't an expensive medium in the grand scheme of marketing costs and spends, it just feels expensive because we've always had it for free and expect to continue having it for free. Also it requires us to "build your own base" as well as "pay them" for using it as well. It's a strange combination of earned media and paid media. I was reading an article on Social Triggers recently and it actually suggested for you to reach out to your fans and let them know about the change and to grab their email if they would like future updates. It was a really great strategy and making something great out of something not so fun. I'll link the article : http://socialtriggers.com/facebook-lowers-my-reach/#more-4885

Darryn Altclass

Darryn Altclass , Brand & Marketing Consultant at The Learning Community

great advice thanks wendy. thanks for sharing it. Thanks also for the article, I will have a read. I still think the greatest strategy is to get people off social media - whatever platform - and on to your email database. I still believe (and experience) email as a very effective marketing process to nurture relationships and provide value by sending regular interesting and helpful content - and of course profiling products and services. This is where I get the best returns for my clients. Having said that, in every strategy I am currently running facebook is still part of the picture and works well as part of the puzzle. Great chatting Wendy, have a great Christmas. - Darryn