The key change seems to be that Facebook is now making it so when fans share your post, their friends are much less likely to see it. Facebook is doing this to achieve a newsfeed ratio where paid posts are 20% and only 80% is organic.

As an example, you make a post on your page. It is is popular and gets shared by some of your fans. In the past that post would be seen frequently by the friends of the person who shared the post, but a new algorithm change means it takes significantly more shares before Facebook deems it relevant.

Greg Colon of Ogility blogged on September 25th that

Facebook announced last Thursday [my note: that would be Septbemer 20th] that it would alter the algorithm that decides what a user sees on their newsfeed. The crux of the change is centered strictly on organic brand page posts, in an effort to de-clutter the amount of posts served up to mobile and tablet users by brands.

After his post started to spread by social media this weekend, he clarified in the comments on his post that:

There was no PR or public announcement on behalf of Facebook of these changes. This information came from Social@Ogilvy and WPP’s relationship with Facebook on product updates. Thus, one reason you cannot find announcements on AllFacebook, etc. Curious to see if reach is down for many. The algorithm is updated periodically and as stated, may not affect all brand pages equally.

While Greg’s post did not explain where the loss of reach would come from, Jon Loomer did extensive research back on September 17th that may have identified at least part of where this loss of reach has and will come from. The first area that Facebook attacked is viral reach:

All along, we’ve been freaking out about Fans seeing our content. You know, EdgeRank is limiting it to only 16% and all. But it would appear that the new problem isn’t reaching our Fans (though that may be down slightly), but our Fans being able to reach their friends with our content.

Jon wrote an extensive piece that is worth reading in entriety; especially his graphic at the top of the post.

I have long been sceptical of Facebook because of how they manipulate who sees what posts from both brands and individuals. I prefer Twitter where once someone follows you, they will see your post if they access Twitter after you post it or in the period immediately after. I have recently highlighted a way to improve Facebook reach by including an image with each of my updates. But Facebook is moving the bar with this latest update.

Greg Colon wrote that:

The change may allow Facebook room to grow its organic/paid offering ratio, in which 80% of content in the newsfeed is organic and 20% is paid in the form of sponsored stories, a form of premium advertising within Facebook.

It is quite possible that if limiting the visibility of fan shares is not enough to get Facebook to this 80-20 ratio, that Facebook will limit the visibility of your page posts by just changing the Edgerank.

This change has had widespread implications. Mari Smith posted a discussion of this issue last night on Facebook and the majority of the 100+ comments are from Facebook page managers reporting the same decrease in reach.

The long term implication is clear. Facebook is becoming more of a “Pay For Play” social network. All those hours and money you spent working to connect with your audience via page Likes could be largely for naught. Facebook not only wants you to compete with all new baby announcements and friends weddings which is understandable, but now they want to take even more of the newsfeed back and give it those who are willing to pay to promote posts.

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2 Responses to Facebook makes unannouced change that is significantly affecting the reach of your page.

  1. avatar Jon Loomer says:

    Thanks for sharing, Josh! Wanted to let you know that I wrote a follow-up to that piece about Viral Reach today:

    http://www.jonloomer.com/2012/09/17/is-facebook-viral-reach-down/

    Still collecting data, but looking more and more like the Post Level data is simply flawed.

  2. avatar Josh Davis says:

    Hi Jon,

    Thanks for your work on this issue.

    I am posting the link to your new piece here:
    http://www.jonloomer.com/2012/10/02/facebook-page-reach-down/

    Is your position that the data Facebook is presenting must be wrong in one way or the other? If so, why would you assume that the Page reach information is accurate while the post reach is not? You understand this much more than me, but I am interested.

    I have talked to two big-brand community managers who both report drastic decrease in reach (I didn’t ask the specifics, so maybe it falls under what you present). The decreases were so significant that they contacted their reps at Facebook to complain.

    I will be interested to see how this plays out, but when almost every Facebook page admin is seeing large drops in post reach, it certainly opens it up to looking for an answer.