If you’ve noticed a drop in the organic reach of your union’s Facebook page posts, you’re not alone.
The changes have been made on purpose by Facebook to make page owners use promoted posts to artificially increase their reach.
In a statement to major advertising partners, Facebook said “We expect organic distribution of an individual page’s posts to gradually decline over time as we continually work to make sure people have a meaningful experience on the site.”
Numerous non-profit and progressive campaign forums have been recently noting the drop in the organic reach of their pages’ posts.
Reach is the number of people who see a post, which appears in their news feed. Organic reach is when your union’s post appears for free in their newsfeed; paid reach is when you have to use a paid promoted post.
A year ago, Facebook denied that the introduction of promoted posts could result fewer people seeing posts from pages.
They claimed at the time that the algorithm changes were made to remove spam content and non-engaging content, and denied promoted posts were just a way to get pages to pay to talk to their own fans.
But this has now changed. The stated objective is clearly to do exactly that. Paid promoted posts are now being pitched to major commercial advertisers as a way to “maximise delivery of your message in newsfeed”.
The Facebook advertising pitch also reframes how you should think about acquiring new fans for your page.
They now argue that Facebook should be seen as a tool for making paid advertising more effective; that is, it is no longer primarily a tool for free exposure.
In other words, you no longer acquire fans for your union to communicate with them for free, but to make your future paid advertising more targeted and effective.
And in order to make it more attractive for your to pay to do this, they’ve changed the algorithm to reduce the reach of your posts.
This decline in reach will be a big issue for unions. Few unions have large advertising budgets, and with Facebook advertising having the lowest click-through rate of any paid online ad, most unions would struggle to justify increasing their Facebook ad budgets.
There’s another consequence for this.
It means that for unions that want to keep getting free organic reach, they will have really step up their creativity and engagement. Facebook prioritises engaging content, and with organic reach declining unions will need to work hard to break through into their fans’ newsfeeds.