Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Facebook Blocks the Stream

Via Schenectandy on Panoramio

I touched on this subject in last week's post, but now it's time to look at it from the perspective of what it means to you. To recap: Facebook is continuing its monetizing strategy by restricting what you see in your timeline. While you'll continue to see posts from your friends and family with no problem, you might miss notifications and news from Pages that you've liked, like that of your favorite band or film or your local museum.

You'll still be able to go to Oreo's Page on FB and interact with them there, but the chances of one of their posts just showing up in your news feed as it used to are very slim and Slim is saddling up to ride out of town altogether. Business brands who want to keep the great communities they've built on FB will now have to invest in supporting those communities through paid reach.*

How This Will Affect Your Small Nonprofit

At the moment, you can consider your small nonprofit to be Oreo. Unless you already have a devoted fan base whose members continue to look for, like, and share your posts, your organic reach* is going to suffer a catastrophic fall.

What Are Your Options
  • You can pay to play. Thirty dollars a month in advertising could get your post in front of 4,000 people. But even $30 a month ($360 a year) may be too much for a tiny nonprofit that hasn't budgeted for it.
  • Move to another platform - you can post pictures with light text on Instagram or Pinterest with links back to your website.
  • Continue on FB but work harder at building community by getting people to like and share your posts with their friends and family. Jason Falls (see 2, below) says Share is the new Like. Whenever someone shares your post, it shows up on their timeline as though they had posted it themselves, which means it sidesteps the pay for play FB now has in place for brand pages.
  • Create your own community - you could set up your own community with forums and every community bell and whistle you can afford. This could be the most expensive option of all and many a brand has tried to create community and failed.
It's Not The End of The World

Not by any means. What it does mean is that the social media landscape will continue to change as 'free' platforms seek to return the investments made in them during their start-up phases. Even if you move to another social media platform, the same problem could come up again. This is why it's a good thing to not only stay on top of what is happening on these sites, but to stay on top of your own social media strategy and whether or not you're getting results that truly benefit you and the mission you serve.

* Definitions from FB
  • Organic reach: The number of unique people who saw your post in News Feed or on your Page, including people who saw it from a story shared by a friend when they liked, commented on or shared your post, answered a question or responded to an event
  • Paid reach: The number of unique people who saw your post through an ad
Note: Viral reach is now counted as part of organic reach.

Related Articles

1. Facebook Organic Reach Plummeting by Tara Urso at Social Media Today
2. The Great Facebook Scam by Jason Falls


btrandolph said...

thanks for the update on FB and Pages, which I hadn't seen. I think that a lot of companies (and nonprofits) have been lazy with Facebook. they might do a promotion to generate Likes, but then treat their page as a billboard rather than a forum. the transitory revelation that FB was not showing posts to all Likers was common sense - if you interact with a Page on a regular or occasional basis, you will see their stuff on a regular or occasional basis. if you Like a Page because you agree with the missioon but otherwise have no connection with the org, you won't see their stuff. engage or lower your expectations.

Jason's point about Shares is a good one. in my work with clients I always stress the benefit of getting Shares, even though Likes have evolved from a simple line a year or so ago to a presentation that rivals that of a Share in the Liker's timeline.

Finally, $30/month is just $360 a year, not $3600. still a hurdle for some nonprofits, but not as overwhelming as you state :)

Robyn McIntyre said...

@btrandolph - first, thanks for the math correction! That is indeed a difference.

I agree about many NPs using their FB page as a billboard. I've seen some recent data that points exactly to that as well as to the fact that most NPs have no social media strategy and don't collect any kind of data. These groups may well continue on FB as they are, since they aren't really trying to create community. Those who want greater engagement will have to step up their game, whatever their platform choice.