…Of users’ organic feeds, that is

Reports have been circulating on social media that Facebook is completely separating business page posts from the friends posts feed. While I have noticed a marked reduction of page posts in my feed, some are still coming through, and others I have spoken to are also still seeing page posts as they normally would.  

Rand Fishkin, the founder of MOZ and digital marketing authority tweeted this on October 19:

It appears that Facebook has moved the Explore Feed to the top of the app in certain test markets. According to an article from BBC, there are six countries – Sri Lanka, Bolivia, Slovakia, Serbia, Guatemala, and Cambodia – where Facebook appears to be conducting an experiment of sorts where the only way business pages can get their content in front of users is by sponsoring their posts or paying for ads. Otherwise, their organic posts will be limited to the Explore Feed. 

Filip Struhárik, journalist, editor and social media manager at Dennikn in Slovakia, describes the result as the “biggest drop in Facebook organic reach we have ever seen.” He goes on further to say that sixty of the biggest Slavak Facebook pages have had 4 times fewer interactions since the experiment began. 

While Pages’ organic reach has steadily declined since 2013, these preliminary numbers suggest that a death blow is coming sooner rather than later.  

Looking at this from a user perspective, however, this should both come as no surprise, and as a little bit of a relief. As an avid Facebook user myself, it can sometimes be overwhelming to scroll through the feed and try to isolate content that is most appealing. In that sense, Facebook has become more like television than it would like to admit. How many channels do you scroll through before you finally stumble upon one that you find worth watching? 

Facebook has certainly recognized that its platform is getting crowded, and it seems as though this experiment is a direct, perhaps knee-jerk, reaction to that fact. 

In a statement acquired by Struhárik, a Facebook spokesperson addressed the situation: 

“With all of the possible stories in each person’s feed, we always work to connect people with the posts they find most meaningful. People have told us they want an easier way to see posts from friends and family, so we are testing two separate feeds, one as a dedicated space with posts from friends and family and another as a dedicated space for posts from Pages. To understand if people like these two different spaces, we will test a few things, such as how people engage with videos and other types of posts.” 

So far, these “tests” that the spokesperson refers to have been crushing to business pages in the six test countries, and has sent shivers down the spines of marketers in the U.S. as they anticipate that this will become the standard in all markets. 

But let’s think about this from different perspective. Sure, Struhárik suggests that business pages’ organic has reached an all time low, but he specifically references the top pages in Slovakia. Let’s take an educated guess and say that those top pages had an average of roughly 1 million fans each. With business pages’ reach hovering at less than 2.6% and dropping, that means that a typical post for one of those pages reaches about 26,000 users – not too shabby.  

However, considering that 77% of Facebook pages had less than 1,000 fans total in 2009, those numbers are not relatable, and 2.6% reach is much more devastating. The average reach on 1000 fans would be a whopping 26 users. 

What does this all mean? To be honest, unless you have a Facebook page with millions of fans, you likely won’t need to alter your marketing approach all that much considering you are probably already running ads and sponsored posts just to get a palatable reach.  

If anything, smaller businesses may see a benefit from such a shift, as they would need to generate more engaging content and then target effectively with ad dollars to garner the engagement they seek. More targeting means that you are getting your content into view of the right eyes instead of just all of the eyes. Gone could be the days where I log onto Facebook and see an organic post from AARP telling me that I could qualify – I’m only 26! 

Our message to small- to medium-sized businesses is simple – just relax. This is marketing, this is what we all signed up for. Remember when everyone panicked when video killed the radio star? Or when the internet spelled doom for print? This industry changes every day and it’s up to us as marketers and business owners to adapt and stay educated.