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For the past several years, Facebook has been a boon to businesses of all sizes.  The social network, through its Fan Page offering, provides a business the opportunity to connect with customers and potential customers and offer them information, special deals and respond to questions and complaints all while building a “community.”  But during the past few months, there’s been a bit of trouble brewing in the world of Facebook and it is impacting businesses in a big way.  Businesses are reaching fewer and fewer of their fans when they post status updates to their fan pages and many want to know: is Facebook intentionally making it more difficult to reach fans and if so, why? Is Facebook intentionally hurting your business

The Edgerank Algorithm
Like many major media platforms, Facebook uses an algorithm (think: complex formula) to determine which status updates will show in the news feed of a Facebook user.  This means that, as a Facebook user, you do not see every single status update from your friends or the pages that you’ve “liked” in the past.  Instead, Facebook’s Edgerank Algorithm determines what type of status updates and content you’ll see and it is based on what content you’ve interacted with in the past.  Here’s an example: if you regularly comment on your friend Bob’s photos, you’re more likely to see more of Bob’s status updates and content in the future.  By contrast, if you rarely comment, share or “like” Sally’s status updates, you’ll see fewer status updates from Sally over time.  Edgerank uses fairly specific signals to regulate this activity for both individuals and fan pages on Facebook.

How Many Fans are Seeing Your Status Updates?
In late August/early September, Facebook fan page administrators began to see a decrease in the reach (the number of people that see a status update) of their status updates.  In our client’s fan pages, we’ve seen decreases in reach of anywhere from 25-50%.  In some of those instances, less than one-third of all fans ever see a status update.  If you’ve integrated Facebook into your marketing strategy and built up a fan page following of any size, a decrease of this amount can really hurt your business.

Why is Facebook Doing This?
This is where things get a little more complicated.  Some Facebook fan page operators argue that Facebook is doing this as a way to make more money.  They point to the timing of the change and how it coincides with Facebook’s newest offering for fan pages to pay to promote their status updates and just how costly those updates can be as evidence that Facebook is intentionally restricting access to fans as a way to increase their own bottom line.  Facebook, in turn, says that the changes are the result of their ongoing desire to keep the news feed from flying out of control and becoming useless.  The answer to this question probably resides a little in both camps.

What Businesses Can Do
Regardless of whether or not Facebook is changing the rules of the game on how businesses can reach their fans, there are a few things you can do to help your business’s fan page:

  1. Monitor your Facebook Insights data so you know what your “reach” is at any given time.  If you’re not checking your Insights data, now would be a great time to start. Any page administrator can access this data when they pull up the fan page.  Examine the statistics to see how many people are seeing individual status updates.  How does this compare to the total number of fans you have?  How are the numbers trending over time?  Bottom line: you need to keep an eye on this data so you’ll know whether or not you have a problem.
  2. Play to the known strengths of the Edgerank algorithm.  Historically, Edgerank has given greater weight to photos and videos (and the engagement that they receive) as a signal to determine how many people see your status updates.  Consider working these into your overall Facebook content marketing strategy to engage your fans.  While this won’t guarantee that you’ll reach all of your fans, it can help with exposure.  Bottom line: adjusting your Facebook marketing strategy to play to these strengths can help with exposure.
  3. Determine whether or not it makes sense for you to pay to promote your posts to fans.  For some businesses, this is a no-brainer.  The survival of their business depends on their fans seeing updates, so they will pony up the money to make sure their posts are seen.  But for many, this may not be financially possible.  As Mark Cuban, owner of the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks, discovered, the costs are astronomical and, therefore, not feasible.  Bottom line: you need to know how much it costs to reach all of your fans and decide whether or not you’re willing to pay that cost.
  4. Explore other social media networks as alternate ways to connect with your audience.  Twitter, LinkedIn, Google Plus, YouTube, Instagram – the list of social networks goes on and on.  Explore these networks to see if you can find your target audience and engage with them there.  Bottom line: Facebook may be the biggest social network, but it isn’t the only game in town.

A good social media strategy, no matter whether it is a Business-to-Business social media strategy orBusiness-to-Consumer strategy, is one that is focused on finding your audience and engaging with them in ways that benefit them.  Facebook’s recent changes don’t have to be the end of your social media strategy.  Instead, use the data that is available and diversify your social media efforts to expand your reach with your audience.

Want to know more about how Dijital Farm can help you with Facebook fan pages?  Contact us today at (919) 901-0485 and learn about creating a social media strategy that will deliver results for your business!