Earlier this year, Facebook broke the hearts of marketers around the world when they announced they changed the algorithm for news feeds to reduce the organic reach of business pages. The move was decried by many and added to the never-ending chorus of naysayers predicting the end of Facebook. Far from meeting its end, Facebook is stronger than ever and according to new research from SocialBakers, marketers may be better off with the changes. According to their research, engagement on Facebook business pages have increased even though the organic reach of content has gone down.
In order to make their conclusion, SocialBakers pulled numbers from data three million of the largest Facebook pages and found that engagement (i.e. likes, comments and shares) has increased 30 percent since January.
“The conversation that seems to be dominating the Facebook marketing community is all about how algorithmic changes to Facebook’s News Feed are hurting organic reach,” wrote Phillip Ross, an analyst at SocialBakers. Our numbers say the opposite; brands have never had a better opportunity to have their best content placed in front of so many people.”
It’s important to note that the study from SocialBakers doesn’t refute the fact that organic reach has declined. As was explained in an article on this blog, the recent decline in organic reach is part of Facebook’s plan to make the platform more enjoyable for users, who have hundreds of possible updates and who value posts from friends and family above marketers. Facebook itself confirmed that they had to reduce the amount of posts from business pages.
The data from SocialBakers does shows that even with the reduced organic reach of posts from business pages, some marketers are still able to get a lot of engagement from the content they post on Facebook. Marketers who stuck with Facebook after the organic reach drop are now reaping the benefits of happier and more engaged fan base.
Besides the happier fan base theory, smarter marketing by business owners on Facebook may also be possible explanation. When organic reach dropped, many business owners began to used paid promotion to ensure their message reached their audience. If a business began using promoted content to reach target audience, their engagement numbers would be expected to increase. Similarly, by removing the automatic promoted post feature from Facebook ads, marketers had to decide what their best content was when choosing what to promote. In other words, marketers responded to the organic reach decline by becoming better marketers. The increased engagement may just be a reflection of that.
To be fair, there is a possible explanation that isn’t so rosy. And with notice when the organic reached the climb was first noticed, not every Facebook business page was affected in the same way. Pages that were already popular in so high amounts of engagement did not see their organic reach decline. This benefit from facebook so recent algorithm change may be experiencing higher engagement rates and thus skewing the results for all others. However, unless evidence to support this interpretation is presented, marketers should just remain optimistic.
This new research shows that far from being the beginning of the end for Facebook marketing, the recent change to organic reach may have had some beneficial effects for social media marketers. If nothing else, the study is proof that marketers should stay the course when it comes to Facebook. The platform still has a lot to offer. For more reasons to use Facebook for marketing, read this article on our site with the latest Facebook to tistics in 2014.