In previous blog posts, we have talked at length about the reasons why your Facebook page may not be performing as well as you would like along with strategies to maximize the ROI of your social media presence. So when we saw Hubspot’s recent blog post exposing the declining organic reach of Facebook and the new struggles marketers are facing on the platform, you could say we were a little excited to find someone speaking our language.
In Hubspot’s post – which we highly recommend – they clearly outline the initial reasons why marketers first started using Pages on Facebook in 2007 and how they were able to market to their audience with original content. Slowly, Facebook began to make changes to the algorithms behind their News Feed. By 2014, marketers discovered that organic reach for Facebook Pages had dropped to around 16% for most pages. If you were ‘unlucky’ enough to have a Page with over 500,000 likes, your organic reach would be around 2% according to Social@Ogilvy’s research in 2014. This was just the start of the organic reach decline.
Hubspot’s post continues detailing that Facebook Engineering Director announced in 2016 that Facebook would be making changes to their News Feed algorithm that would cause further decline in organic reach. Now you may not be able to even reach 2% of your audience! Following the algorithm changes, SocialFlow reported that publishers saw a 52% decline in organic reach on Facebook between January and July 2016.
Facebook is clearly following a path towards lower and lower organic reach for its publishers. They’ve pulled a bait and switch with their content creators and people have started to catch on. Hubspot’s post perfectly sums up the issue with a quote from James Del’s 2014 interview in Digiday:
Facebook may be pulling off one of the most lucrative grifts of all time; first, they convinced brands they needed to purchase all their Fans and Likes — even though everyone knows you can’t buy love; then, Facebook continues to charge those same brands money to speak to the Fans they just bought.
Time to Protect Your Brand
Following all the clear evidence of Facebook making life harder for its publishers, it’s time to start asking the question, “Why are we still only relying on social media to build relationships with our audience?”
By no means are we advocating for a complete abandonment of using social media as part of your marketing strategy. The majority of your audience is likely on those channels, so it makes sense to have a brand presence there.
What doesn’t make sense, however, is solely relying on outlets that have consistently proven to not have your best interest in mind to communicate with your audience. Nobody outside of Facebook knows what changes to the News Feed algorithm could be coming next. Facebook could suddenly decide to make Pages have an organic reach of 0%, thus forcing brands to automatically have to pay to reach even 1 person who has liked their Page. We’re not saying this is going to happen, but you need to be prepared in case something like this does happen because clearly Facebook’s monetary interests lie in forcing advertisers to pay more to reach their audience.
What Should You Do?
To mitigate the risk of completely relying on social media to connect with your audience, you should start to think of opportunities to build a relationship with your audience on a platform that you own. How can you recreate the engaging, communal experience of social media on an asset that is owned by your brand? From customer and audience data, to monetization, to simply being able to properly communicate with everybody in your audience, there is too much at stake to rely on social media channels as your only plan.
Three Tips to Build Audience Relationships
Now that you are aware of the dangers of relying only on social media and you want to start building your own audience relationships, here are a few ideas to get started.
- Add more social experiences to your website
- Your website should be the hub for your brand’s digital presence. As social media has become an environment that users feel comfortable with, it is important to create similar feeling experiences on your website. Polls, trivia, contests, and video content can be some great social experiences to add to your site.
- Open a branded digital community
- Creating your own branded community is a great way to build relationships with your audience and create a more social website. A community will give you the ability to open a dialogue between your brand and your audience in an environment that brings more ROI to your business. Check out some of the ways Memeni’s community platform can help you.
- Host off-line events
- Off-line events are great opportunities to bring your audience together to connect and build a network around your brand. Don’t feel obligated to host huge thousand person events. Even a small 15 person meet up can be great to start building relationships!