Marketers are Forced to buy ads as Organic Reach on Facebook Plummets

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Facebook has made an about-face when it comes to organic reach. Last year, small businesses, bloggers and marketers complained that fewer fans were seeing their posts. Some saw their reach drop as low as 2 percent.

At the time, Facebook took exception to the implication that it was forcing paid ads onto marketers to make up for lost reach, claiming instead that the algorithm tweaks were meant only to filter out spam and non-engaging content. But Facebook recently admitted that organic reach is declining and is encouraging marketers to buy ads.

Earlier this month, AdAge obtained a Facebook sales deck that was sent out to its partners. In the document, titled “Generating business results on Facebook,” marketers are told they should consider paid distribution “to maximize delivery of your message in news feed.”

The business benefit of free distribution of content is lower on the list than “improve advertising effectiveness” and “lower cost for paid distribution.” In other words, says AdAge, the main reason to acquire fans isn’t to build a free distribution channel for content, it’s to make future Facebook ads work better.

A Facebook spokeswoman told AdAge, “We’re getting to a place where because more people are sharing more things, the best way to get your stuff seen if you’re a business is to pay for it.”

It used to be easier for brands to get their content in front of fans, but as the network has grown, so has the amount of posted content, and Facebook is not giving priority to brands in order to help them maintain the percentage of users they used to reach.

Many small businesses and brand strategists spent time building up their fan bases, but there is little benefit in that if only a few of those fans are seeing their posts. Users also miss out on a brand’s updates and content with which they’d like to engage if those brands aren’t spending money on Facebook ads.

And now Facebook is testing spammy video ads that play automatically. Really?

Social networks like Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+ are a safer bet for social media marketers in such an environment.

*photo credit: mkhmarketing and Sean MacEntee, Flickr

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