Facebook Marketing Declines: How Business Should React

Do you use Facebook to promote your business?

Are you wondering how the recent Facebook algorithm changes will affect your marketing?

To learn what the future of Facebook means for your brand or business, I interview Mari Smith and Jay Baer for this episode of the Social Media Marketing podcast.

More About This Show

Social Media Marketing Podcast w/ Michael Stelzner

The Social Media Marketing podcast is a show from Social Media Examiner.

It’s designed to help busy marketers and business owners discover what works with social media marketing.

The show format is on-demand talk radio (also known as podcasting).

In this episode, I interview Mari Smith and Jay Baer. Mari is the co-author of Facebook Marketing: An Hour a Day and considered to be the world’s leading expert on Facebook marketing and Jay is the author of Youtility: Why Smart Marketing Is About Help Not Hype. He’s also host of the Social Pros podcast.

Mari and Jay share how to be successful with Facebook’s new algorithm and what these changes mean for your Facebook strategy.

You’ll learn how to monitor your reach and engagement, and how to navigate paid versus earned media in your content strategy.

Share your feedback, read the show notes and get the links mentioned in this episode below!

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Here are some of the things you’ll discover in this show:

Facebook Marketing Declines

Recently, an article by AdAge referenced an official Facebook document that 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.”

adage organic reach

AdAge‘s article references an official Facebook document, which urges marketers to buy ads.

In other words, Facebook says that they are going to show less of your Facebook updates to your fans and followers. If you want to get seen, you will have to pay to play.

This news has raised a lot of concern among marketers.

Previous changes to the Facebook news feed

Mari explains how up until a few months ago, the algorithm that governs what content goes into the news feed was called EdgeRank. The term used now is the Facebook news feed ranking algorithm.

The formula changed dramatically, with Facebook telling everyone that on any given day, a user can potentially see 1,500 possible stories. A story includes likes, comments, shares, videos and photos.

Once you click Like, Comment or Share, Facebook knows what type of content to show you. Most users are aware that the majority of content shown comes from friends.

This means that business pages struggle to get organic visibility.

On December 2, 2013, Facebook announced they will start to decline or diminish organic reach for pages because users predominantly want to see content from friends and brands that they enjoy interacting with. According to Inside Facebook, studies show more than 40% decreased organic reach on Facebook.

Listen to the show to find out what type of content Facebook will give less weight to.

Is Facebook trying to protect its fans from marketers? 

I recently heard Gary Vaynerchuk say that Facebook is trying to protect its fans from marketers. It seems that Facebook has realized that they need to provide a quality user experience, otherwise people won’t click on the ads.

Jay explains why Facebook doesn’t want to devolve into MySpace. They are now a public company, which needs to continue to generate tons of advertising money. One of the ways to do this is to squeeze the algorithm.

Listen to the show to find out how Facebook has used one of the oldest business playbooks in history to get you hooked.

Marketers see a decline in organic reach

In December, an article by Ignite Social Media showed that brands saw massive declines in organic reach that month.

Jay says that a large number of brands on Facebook have seen a decline in organic reach, but there are other brands that have not been impacted by the change at all.

There are some exceptions to the rule. On one of his podcasts, Jay recently interviewed the chief of police of Brimfield, Ohio, who said the department has over 75% engagement rates on its Facebook page.

socialpros brimfield police episode

The Brimfield, Ohio police department has very high engagement on its Facebook page.

Jay says that we’ve had it pretty good on Facebook for a long time and while it’s annoying that you now have to start to pay, he doesn’t think it should have come as a big surprise.

Listen to the show to discover why Jay believes that you can still be effective on Facebook for “free.”

Brand loyalty

Mari says you can have brand loyalty no matter what size your business is.

She has always admired Oreo’s marketing, which has 35 million Facebook fans. Oreo’s Talking About This number, which includes fans and non-fans at any given time, is 251,000 people.

Then if you look at Skittles on Facebook, they have 25 million fans, but only 56,000 are actually talking about this.

skittles facebook

Skittles has over 25 million fans on Facebook.

Both brands are quirky, fun and post great content. It really comes down to the quality of the content and how much the fans are interacting.

This goes for any brand, no matter what size or budget.

Listen to the show to hear how you can build brand loyalty and various ways you can get traction.

The impact on small businesses

Mari explains how people have shared their unrest and frustration with these new changes. Some have even considered abandoning their Facebook business page and just use their profile page instead.

You’ll hear why Mari feels that this is unfortunate and why there are still so many advantages to having a business page. Not everybody across the platform is experiencing this decline.

Jay says the tricky part of it all is trying to figure out the cause. It’s hard to advise people right now, because even the professionals don’t really know. There are a lot of organizations that specialize in Facebook research, who are actually trying to crack the code to see what the new best practice is.

Listen to the show to find out why Jay believes that this is the year for Google+ pages for business.

How to tell if your business has seen a decline in organic reach

Mari advises you to look at your Facebook Page Insights, which are available on both desktop and mobile.

Mari loves the little scorecard feature. You can go into your Insights and look under the Posts tab, where every individual post will pop up. It will give you at a glance both negative and positive feedback.

You can see what kind of reach you got, the click-through rate and whether people hide your content as spam or unlike your page.

post reach insights

You can see in Post Reach who you have reached and who you have engaged.

You’ll discover some of the great stats you can get when you export data and what you need to look at that will determine whether your organic reach has gone down.

Listen to the show to find out why Mari is excited about Instagram for brands and businesses in 2014.

Do we have reason to be concerned? 

Jay doesn’t think the new changes are necessarily a reason to be concerned. He feels it’s the natural evolution of what was formerly an immature industry, which is now more mature. It’s becoming more about the media and less about the social.

There are tens of billions of dollars at stake. Somebody will take these dollars and turn social media into an advertising platform, more than it is already. All of these platforms are going to have both organic and paid opportunities and Jay thinks that the smart companies, including small businesses, will take advantage of both.

stock photo 8129754 cash register

Smart companies will take advantage of both free and paid opportunities. Image source: iStockphoto

Jay says that it’s important to recognize that it’s not as if this doesn’t work anymore. It just doesn’t work as well as it once did.

You’ll hear why Jay is a firm believer that paid social will be a requirement for almost all businesses.

Mari explains that for a long time, she has put a lot more money into community building than advertising. She has developed a reputation for being someone who responds and now has a team whose sole job it is to respond to questions on her fan page.

Mari shares why Socialbakers is one of her favorite social media analytic tools for Facebook, and why community management is more important than ever.

Listen to the show to find out why both Mari and Jay strongly believe that you have to actively respond to customer questions.

Start to budget for social advertising

Mari says that you should start to budget for social advertising. You can budget as little as $5 per day to promote content that you put on your wall. You don’t necessarily have to buy ads down the right-hand side.

Mari has recently created a Facebook ads course with her good friend Dennis Yu, who believes that the news feed ads are where it’s at.

You need to create content that doesn’t look like a marketing message. Instead, make it look more like a conversation piece that people can engage with. You’ll hear what you can do to amplify the reach of this content.

Listen to the show to find out what you can do if you don’t have an advertising budget.

Examples of useful advertising

As Jay talks about in his book Youtility, the idea would be to advertise content instead of a company.

Jay says they have seen some good success with Facebook advertising of business-to-business content, such as ebooks and webinars. You have to be smart and aggressive about targeting.

One of the mistakes that people make when they advertise on Facebook is that they try to cast the net too wide. You need to use keywords and other targeting capabilities.

To help promote Social Media Marketing World, we use a service called Perfect Audience. It costs approximately $40 per week.

sponsored story for smmw

A sponsored story is a lot more economical for advertising events.

Listen to the show to find out why Jay thinks Facebook retargeting will become very popular.

Should we have something we call our own?

Jay says that without a doubt, you should have something you own, whether it’s content assets or community assets.

You’ll hear Jay explain about paid, owned and earned media and why they’re so important to your business.

Jay’s friend Jeff Rohrs, who is the co-host of the Social Pros podcast, has a great new book called Audience. It’s all about how to build your own assets online and create ties with audiences that you can then use to build a successful business down the road.

Listen to the show to find out why you need to figure out what you own and make it worthy of attention.

Tactical steps marketers can take to get the most out of Facebook

If you’re a small business owner, then Mari advises you to use your personal profile in conjunction with a fan page.

You’ll discover what you need to do with your personal profile to blast through the 5,000-friend limit and be able to publish public content that people can sign up to see.

Mari has three opportunities to be seen in the news feed on any given day organically. She posts to friends, publicly on her profile and to her fan page.

mari smith fan page

Mari typically posts only once a day on her profile and her fan page—both of which are different content.

Facebook has been promoting Instagram because they want you to integrate and connect your Instagram account with your Facebook pages. You can also do this for fan pages too.

There are lots of different things to consider and integrate. You need to have a solid business plan in place and use social media as an amplifier.

Listen to the show to find out why Jay says that you have to play the algorithmic game to make sure your posts get maximum organic reach.

Other Show Mentions

SMMW logoSocial Media Marketing World 2014 is our physical mega-conference, which is set to return to San Diego, California on March 26, 27 and 28.

The conference features more than 60 sessions in 4 major tracks, which include social tactics, social strategy, community management and content marketing.

Below is a sample of the visual marketing sessions we have planned.

  • How Brands Use Pinterest to Turn Eyeballs Into Loyal Customers—Cynthia Sanchez with Michael Bepko (Whole Foods) and Azure Collier (Constant Contact)
  • How to Create Original, Shareable, Traffic-Driving Visual Content—Donna Moritz
  • How to Use Pinterest to Build Your Email List: Proven Techniques—Melanie Duncan
  • Brands That Are Rockin’ It on Instagram: Tips From the Trenches—Sue Zimmerman
  • How to Grow Your Pinterest Following the Smart Way—Cynthia Sanchez

Be sure to check it out.

Call in and leave your social media–related questions for us and we may include them in a future show.

Key takeaways mentioned in this episode:

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What do you think? What are your thoughts on Facebook’s new pay-to-play approach? Please leave your comments below.

Image from iStockPhoto.

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About the Author, Michael Stelzner

Michael Stelzner is the founder and CEO of Social Media Examiner, founder of My Kids' Adventures and author of the books Launch and Writing White Papers. He's also the host of the Social Media Marketing podcast. Other posts by »




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