With Facebook organic reach nearly nonexistent, the platform's “pay-to-play” model is calling for a shift in engagement strategies. Here, we offer a few succinct action items to add to your 2017 plan to help your brand succeed.

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Adapting and Succeeding: Leveraging Facebook’s “Pay-to-Play” Model

Remember when the benefit of having Facebook Fans was connecting with your audience and serving your content within their newsfeeds? Ah, the good ol’ days! As time went on, “real estate” (i.e. space on the newsfeed) became less available and Facebook’s algorithm adapted to show users what they cared about most, thus increasing the need to pay to promote content in the Facebook newsfeed.

Current Situation:

A study from Edgerank Checker found that between February 2012 and March 2014, organic reach for the average Facebook Page dropped from 16% to 6.5%. Research from Social@Ogilvy, meanwhile, suggests that for pages with more than 500,000 Likes, organic reach could be as low as 2%. This means that Facebook fans are almost guaranteed to not see your content.

Facebook is flooded with content. Pages and users are sharing more than ever before, and this content avalanche has created a highly competitive newsfeed that has limited inventory. According to Mark Zuckerberg, while there are approximately 1,500 stories being shared each day on any users newsfeed each day, you’ll only see about 100 of those. And that was in 2014, so it is safe to assume that it is even more competitive now.

To counteract the decline of reach, it is important to learn what Facebook’s infamous algorithm prefers. In short, the Facebook algorithm favors anything that keeps users on the platform for a longer period of time. This works towards Facebook’s mission to provide the best content and the best user experience possible. So, the more engagements (likes, comments, shares) your posts receive, the more other people will see your post! Honestly, this mindset is not exclusive to the Facebook platform. Earlier last year, Instagram announced that they would replace the chronological news feed with an algorithm that favors posts with higher engagement, which is essentially the same idea.

What to do about it:

The value of a Facebook fan isn’t what it used to be. What once meant guaranteed organic views is now valued at little more than a vanity metric. If the goal is to get your target audiences to see and interact with your content, brands are better off allocating the majority of their budgets to promoting top quality content (with an objective to drive engagement, clicks, sign-ups, downloads, etc), versus running Page Like ads.

It is crucial that your paid social strategy adapt to an ever-changing platform. What worked for your brand in 2016 will not work in 2017. Due to the lack of organic reach, more posts need to be promoted if you want people to see them. Allocating a larger portion of your monthly budget for promoted posts not only ensures that your content will be viewed but it also guarantees engagement with your target audiences. If your main objective is to raise brand awareness, incorporate Facebook’s “Brand Awareness” ad set which optimizes on brand recall at a low cost per impression. Again, this algorithm adaptation is not exclusive to Facebook. It’s imperative to recognize the trends in the industry and make the appropriate adjustments to your plan. Instagram will most likely continue to follow suit to Facebook’s “pay-to-play” initiative, which means promoting your Instagram posts will become more necessary than ever before.

Photo via Unsplash

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