S ocial marketing on Facebook in 2014: Is it still worth it?
Ever since Facebook’s troubled IPO, the social media giant has been faced with a persistent predicament: it has to keep its stock price afloat. For Facebook (which has sworn time and time again that it will never charge its users to use the service) that means advertising. Unfortunately – as 2013 proved – it also means squeezing business users for as much cash as possible.
In general, social media networks have a central activity feed. This feed displays the most recent content posted from everyone in that user’s network, and that’s where most of the interaction occurs. For brands, that means the more people that “like” or follow your page, the more organic reach you have. Straight forward enough, right? Not on Facebook.
The problem with Facebook
Back in April of 2012, Facebook announced that on average a page’s organic reach covered only about 16% of its fanbase. In other words, for all those hard-earned Facebook fans, each post was only seen by 16 in 100 users. Soon after, Facebook introduced a new feature: pay to promote your posts, and increase your reach.
Later that year, following new algorithm tweaks by Facebook, some brands began noticing that they weren’t even seeing 16%, with outside research conducted finding the new average below 10%. In a statement, Facebook cited spam as a driving factor in the changes:
“Based on a recent quality check, we made an adjustment to the news feed algorithm to respond to the negative feedback signals of spam and people hiding posts. Current signals show the adjustment has been successful.”
Still, many bloggers speculated otherwise – that Facebook was squeezing organic reach in an effort to get brands to pay for boosted posts. In December of 2013, Facebook pulled the reins even tighter, and this time they weren’t playing coy about it. A new algorithm was announced, intended to put an emphasis on “quality content” in users’ feeds:
“For many Pages, this includes a decline in organic reach... 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.”
A study made by Ignite Social Media after the latest algorithm update shows an even greater reduction in organic reach, now below 3%. For a small business with only a few hundred fans, that’s nothing. Facebook’s solution? Pay to boost your posts.
In 2013 it was fairly clear that Facebook was encouraging a pay-to-play environment for brands, but now the gloves are off. If you’re considering playing ball, consider also that it costs a minimum of $5 to “boost” a post on Facebook. While that might not seem like a lot, it adds up – and that’s only the minimum bid for reach. Sure, there are benefits; when you boost a post, you can also choose to have it appear in the feeds of your fan’s friends, allowing you tap into a whole new market. In general though, it’s hard to recommend the frequent boosting of posts for companies with a small marketing budget.
Social Marketing on Facebookin 2014: Is it still worth it?
Whether or not social marketing on Facebook is still “worth it” will likely differ on a case-by-case basis. If you opt not to “play,” that doesn’t mean your company should abandon Facebook altogether – businesses of every size still absolutely need a Facebook page. The social network isn’t going anywhere any time soon, and the content you post will still be there when visitors see your page.
Yes, you should still make an effort to post to Facebook. However, if your aim on social media is quality community engagement and interaction without being shaken down for it, other social networks (Google+ in particular) will likely give you a better return for your time.