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Google’s algorithms aren’t the only ones you need to worry about – recent Facebook algorithm updates may have permanently killed your organic Page reach.

The latest update to the News Feed algorithm favors friends instead of Facebook Pages. And that’s bad news for businesses that invest in Pages for their Facebook marketing.

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One Update Among Many…

The social network’s most recent round of algorithm updates have signaled yet another decline in Facebook Page reach. And this has some people worried…

Over the years, Facebook Page reach has continued to decline. Several years ago, a business could assume that their Pages would reach around 16% of their audience. But, over the years, that reach has been decreasing.

Last year, TechCrunch reported that between February of 2012 and March of 2014, the average Page reach decreased from 16% to 6.51%. Other sources claimed that the number was closer to 2%, particularly for large brands with several hundred thousand likes.

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Regardless of which source you refer to, the decline in reach is significant and apparent.

MarketingLand claims that the most recent updates could make organic reach closer to zero. But there’s no denying that Facebook’s continued News Feed modifications are hurting organic reach for most businesses.

Towards the end of last year, Facebook focused specifically on posts that promoted app installs, products, sweepstakes, and advertising content.

Like many other recent updates, this update cracks down on promotional posts and clickbait. According to the social network, businesses should avoid posting anything that looks too much like advertising.

The logical conclusion drawn by media outlets is: if you want to advertise on Facebook, you have to buy an ad. Like most other social networks, Facebook wants to optimize the user experience.

What The Changes Mean for Marketers

Optimizing for SEO and Facebook’s News Feed can be problematic for many businesses…for several reasons:

For one thing, the return on investment is uncertain. As with SEO, there’s no real way to know the results of your efforts beforehand.

While investment in both SEO and Facebook Page marketing can be significant, calculating returns can be somewhat challenging…and predicting them can be even harder.

Also, there’s no way to predict when the next algorithm update will hit. What works today may not work next month – or tomorrow, depending on when the next update hits.

This means that all the time and money invested in the recent algorithm could end up going down the drain.

Historically, every past update has only hurt Facebook Page reach. Past updates targeted promotional posts. The most recent updates accomplish the same thing through a different method.

Instead of filtering promotional posts, Facebook makes it more likely that people will see friends’ posts. And they’ll be less likely to see brand posts that their friends commented on.

The conclusion is simple: organic reach is dead. Immediately after the updates hit the site, some brands reported instant declines in their numbers. So if your company has been banking on Facebook Pages as a cost-effective marketing solution, those days are over…

The silver lining: Facebook may have the largest ad network in the world. Facebook is still the largest social network in the world. And while Facebook Pages may not have worked out like anyone expected, the sheer size of the user base still makes Facebook ideal for advertising.

The New Marketing Plan: Facebook Advertising

With the disintegration of organic reach, paid advertising is the only route available for marketers and advertisers. This may make some people angry.

But there are upsides to using Facebook as an advertising platform. Not only is the user base enormous, the company’s targeting capabilities are top-notch. With so much data at advertisers’ fingertips, it may be better to use paid advertising than Page marketing.

Since paid advertising can be used as direct-response marketing, it’s much easier to calculate ROI. And the results are assured: there’s no guessing about organic reach, how News Feed updates will affect your marketing campaigns, and so on.

And Facebook’s advertising continues to evolve.

Currently, Facebook offers a wide range of mobile advertising options, from mobile app install ads to app engagement ads to in-app ads. These ads generate almost three-quarters of Facebook’s ad revenue. So it makes sense that the company wants to keep squeezing as much money as it can from its advertising.

The company recently introduced dynamic product ads. These sophisticated ads can integrate directly with a company’s inventory to display a carousel of in-stock items. The ads show up in the news feed, provide engagement data, and offer businesses a way to use the same amount of space to showcase more items.

And the social network itself has its fingers in many other pies…

The Find, for example, is Facebook’s new acquisition that gives the social network access to local retailers and their products. And the Oculus Rift, of course, is Facebook’s big bet on the future of virtual reality – which will impact everything from online shopping to social networking.

 

While organic reach may be dead – effectively killing Facebook Page marketing – paid advertising keeps growing. A recent Adobe study showed that in the first quarter of 2015, paid impressions grew 8%.

Facebook’s strategy appears to be working.