While my personal Facebook page and profile continue to have good reach and engagement, the Lucire Facebook is down, especially compared with this time last year.
We’ve increased fans and, on our site, readership, but it’s becoming more and more evident that traffic isn’t coming via the Facebook fan page.
It makes you wonder, then, whether Facebook pages remain a useful marketing tool.
Today is one of the high-traffic days of the year, one where had incredibly high Facebook engagement a year ago. We recorded a reach of 3,169 on the principal article posted that day, on Miss France 2013. Today’s figure for the 2014 competition: 45. (I’d give you a 2011 figure, but Facebook doesn’t allow me to scroll down that far on that page.)
If we post something without an external link, then Facebook will share that with more of our fans, and these will be in the hundreds.
This is probably the best example we have at Lucire for the declining effectiveness of Facebook, with two very comparable posts.
Since the company introduced paid updates, fan page administrators saw an immediate decline in engagement numbers. These seem to have worsened even more in 2013. Facebook denied it then, even objected to the suggestion:
At the time, Facebook contended that algorithmic changes had been made to weed out spammy, non-engaging content, but that the median reach of pages hadn’t budged. It particularly objected to the inference that the changes had been made to spur marketers to spend more on ads to make up for lost reach.
However, now comes an admission of sorts in a sales’ deck sent to its partners, revealed by Advertising Age. Folks called BS then, and they were right.
So while 2012 had research showing a 38 per cent year-on-year drop, we’ve seen that 2013 has seen the figure plunge in order for the Californian social network to make more money.
Back to Advertising Age:
In the document, titled “Generating business results on Facebook,” the paragraph in which the impending drop-off in organic reach is revealed concludes with an ad pitch; marketers are told they should consider paid distribution “to maximize delivery of your message in news feed.” …
In other words, the main reason to acquire fans isn’t to build a free distribution channel for content; it’s to make future Facebook ads work better.
When I posted that Facebook was dying, I had plenty of people object—on Facebook, of course—because the network had become so ingrained. But, I thought, once upon a time it was habitual to check your Altavista or Excite home page. Once people find a better way to keep in touch, something that mirrors real-life interaction more, they’ll go.
Facebook fatigue could well come from the lack of stimulation that the website represents today. While Timeline was rolled out to much fanfare in September 2011, and other nip–tucks had taken place regularly before then, Facebook has not innovated on such a grand scale since. However, like an operating system, or like some software, there’s little visual delight in Facebook in 2013 for me. The personal motive is far less than it was. And if there’s such a substantial drop-off in reach on fan pages—we are talking nearly 99 per cent—then there’s no supporting work reason to be there, either. Sure you could innovate and run competitions, but if the reach is this pathetic, does it give businesses much confidence to take the plunge? I don’t think so, not for the majority of small businesses.
Facebook seemed like a recessionary tool: one where people could spend time to forget how bad the economy is. When things improve, we might just want to get out there and do stuff.
All this potentially plays into Google’s hands, and that’s not something I’ll admit to lightly. Google News was Lucire’s friend today. We need reach to get engagement, and we’ll go where we can get it. The search is on.