About 3 weeks ago (Oct 20th), Facebook rolled out an update in 6 countries, that they chose god knows how as it’s a rather random list : Slovakia, Serbia, Bolivia, Guatemala, Cambodia and Sri Lanka. As I happen to live in Slovakia, I could witness the early effects of the change and I could also follow the reactions of several page admins across the country. To sum it up really quickly, before going into more details : IT SUCKS!
SO WHAT DID THEY CHANGE ACTUALLY?
First of all, let me tell you what changes Facebook actually did… there are now 2 news feeds, one is the original news feed that you are used to scroll through, but from now on, there are no posts from Facebook Pages shown in this main feed. These posts are all moved to a new one, called the Explore Feed.
It looks like this :
Pretty standard FB setup, basically looks the same as the original feed … So, posts from your friends are still in the main feed, but if you want to see posts from the pages you liked, you need to switch to the explore feed. Obviously, the default feed is still the original news feed, so an action from the user is required in order to see the page posts now.
As performance marketers, we all know that any EXTRA action that is required from the users, results in lower activity overall. So I wasn’t surprised when admins of all kinds of Facebook pages started to complain about the decreased activity and overall organic reach of their posts. But I had no idea how BAD this really was, until I posted something on my FB page recently.
My initial impression was, that since my FB page (I’m talking about the Matuloo Page) has fans from all over the world, the posts will still show in their news feeds just fine … except for those who reside in the 6 “blessed” countries that I listed earlier. Boy was I wrong.
Let me show you 2 screenshots from my FB page, one is a post I made before the change, the second one was posted yesterday.
First a random pre-change result :
Now the after-change result :
Quite a difference, huh? While I was able to reach up to 2000-3000 people with any posts I made on the page in the past, and way more when popular people shared it … I had less than 30 views on the one I posted yesterday … not exactly the reach you’d expect from a page with almost 5500 fans.
I think it’s safe to assume that my FB page has just gone totally worthless in terms of organic reach. It worked very well for me in the past, I loved how quickly I could get a lot of readers to any of my new articles. This means, that investing into building a fan page of your FB pages, is no longer a wise investment.
To be fair, I have to mention that this is supposed to be a test … so far, Facebook claims they don’t have plans to roll this update out globally … on the other hand, when I posted this on the STM Forum, some members from India claimed they are seeing this update too. I guess time will tell what they do with it.
AND WHAT NOW? SKY IS FALLING?
The motive of this change is pretty obvious, Facebook wants more AD revenue … if you can’t get the reach in an organic way, you have to pay for it. So boosting posts would be one solution … once people start interacting with the boosted post, they should become visible in the news feeds of their friends too. Didn’t test this yet, so not sure how well it would actually work in reality.
Based on what I see in my original news feed, it’s exactly what companies and page admins are doing now … there are more ads for page posts than ever before. The news feed also looks quite empty now … there is only so much of family photos and famous quotes shared by your friends that you can handle a day.
Another problem is that the new Explore Feed is buggy, it shows limited amount of posts, sometimes just 3 or even 1 … sometimes you have to refresh it 5 times in a row in order to get some new page posts loaded. So far, this whole initiative is one large FUCKUP on Facebooks behalf. I don’t like it one bit, both from a personal user and page admin perspective.
In one turn, they made my facebook page a worthless asset and at the same time, they made I way more complicated for me to follow the pages that I like. At the same time, the main news feed now seems more ad heavy than it was before. Whichever way I look at it, I don’t see any positives.
In their own defense … I understand this is a test and as such, it’s bound to face problems along the way. They chose a limited amount of markets, to see what peoples reactions would be, so I hope they listen and cut this crap.
But in case they decide to roll this out to the world, you can kiss your Facebook pages goodbye … they will become worthless – at least when it comes to their organic reach. To give you an idea about how much the interactions went down, right after they implemented the changes, check the screen below :
The screenshot maps organic FB interactions for 60 important newspaper pages in Slovakia, it’s coming from the CrowdTangle tool. The massive dip is VERY obvious.
Hard to say whether they decide to apply this change globally, but in case your income depends on FB organic traffic, it’s time to start thinking about some plan B. I would say SEO and other ways of building organic traffic will come back to the spotlight. The days of easy social traffic might be gone.
Thanks for reading!