I recently had an interaction with a client who was wondering why they weren’t getting any traction for the business on Facebook. They used to get a lot of likes and comments, but have noticed over the past few years that has dried up, despite having more followers than ever before.

Here’s the thing… If you aren’t paying to have your posts seen, chances are they are only being seen by a small number of your Facebook followers. And, by small, I mean very small. Business and page posts on Facebook are usually only seen by a very tiny number of your followers.

So, you put all that time into writing a post, taking or finding a nice image to go with the post, and getting it online, only to have a fraction of the people you think it is reaching actually see it.

Why people aren’t seeing Facebook business posts.

Some major changes started to occur for many back in early 2018 when Facebook did an algorithm change in order to prioritize posts that spark conversations and meaningful interactions between people, however, many companies have reported declines even before then.

Space in the Facebook News Feed is limited.

In 2018, Facebook said they would be prioritizing posts from family and friends over public pages. They said:

“Because space in News Feed is limited, showing more posts from friends and family and updates that spark conversation means we’ll show less public content, including videos and other posts from publishers or businesses.

As we make these updates, Pages may see their reach, video watch time and referral traffic decrease. The impact will vary from Page to Page, driven by factors including the type of content they produce and how people interact with it. Pages making posts that people generally’ react to or comment on could see the biggest decreases in distribution. Pages whose posts prompt conversations between friends will see less of an effect.”

Keep in mind, the newsfeed space on someone’s “wall” is limited in space, so only so much can fit. Visibility in the News Feed has become increasingly competitive due to an over saturation of content on Facebook.

You really aren’t reaching as many people with your posts as you think.

So, if you are posting on Facebook for your business and not paying for the reach you need, don’t make the mistake of thinking that all of your followers are seeing it. I can guarantee you 100% that you aren’t getting anywhere near close to the amount of reach you think you are!

Based on industry studies and reports, it is only 1-2% of your followers are actually seeing your posts, unless you have a very active community that is constantly liking, sharing, and engaging in comments on your Facebook business page.

So, if your page has 100 followers, it might be seen by only 1 or 2 of them. That can be a hard pill to swallow, especially for companies and organizations that rely mostly on Facebook to get their name out there in the community.

Many companies boast lots of followers and think they are immune to this situation, but nothing could be further from the truth. Even back in late 2012, when people had spent money on Facebook to acquire “likes” in the belief that having a much larger fan base would allow more people to see what they were posting, the numbers reported showed that the amount of people seeing your posts was still under 16%.

So, despite some companies having a large number of followers, only a very small percentage was actually seeing their posts, and that was a seven years ago. The numbers have only continued to drop steadily over time.

In a study done by Social@Ogilvy of 106 country-level brand pages it has administrator access to, they found that the average reach of organic posts had declined to 2.11% in February of 2014.

And, the numbers haven’t gone up one bit in the last five years. They just continue to fall. We can assume that a day will come when the organic reach of a business post on Facebook is at zero, according to many industry experts.

Let’s face it, Facebook is offered for free for people to use, so they have to make their money somewhere. It’s an evolution that many of us saw coming many, many years ago. I can remember telling clients as far back as six years ago that relying on free advertising from Facebook was a bad idea to be able to count on long-term, and many refused to believe me.

The effect on businesses and public pages from Facebook’s algorithm change.

I have seen the drop off myself in engagement on posts from our business Facebook page over the years. Over time, despite our following growing, we have gotten fewer likes and fewer comments, so I know this means that our organic posts aren’t being seen as frequently as they were several years ago.

In fact, I have posted the exact same content on both my personal page and my business page and see 10x the engagement on my personal page because I had friends and family liking and commenting on the posts.

And, despite the fact that I generally follow all of my client’s Facebook business pages, over time, I have seen less and less of their posts show up in my personal feed, which now is propagated with things from the family and friends I interact with the most on Facebook, as well as other business pages, sometimes their own competitors, who are paying to boost their posts as sponsored posts.

With fewer comments, clicks, likes, and shares, your posts are having fewer interactions that are needed to get Facebook to prioritize showing them. This decline in interactions means fewer leads, customers, and conversions for your company.

Why does a business even need to post on Facebook?

We are kind of in a Catch 22 with Facebook. Like with all advertising, we have to market to where the people are and social media is where they are in this day and age. While large brands are still doing TV, billboard and magazine advertising, they are also investing heavily in advertising on social media outlets. Because they know that’s where their target market lives.

Why should smaller business and organizations think they are affected any differently? This is especially true of local businesses who need to target specific areas. Social media makes it possible to really engage your target market that you want to reach, at a much lower price point than traditional advertising ever did.

I am actually surprised at the number of people who will still spend hundreds of dollars every month for an ad in the Yellow pages, that aren’t investing in their social media presence. I don’t know about you, but it has literally been at least six years since I have picked up the Yellow Pages to find a business to work with. I am not among the minority in that either.

Learning to use Facebook to your advantage.

Facebook is encouraging marketers to target their fan bases, rather than use Facebook as a free broadcast channel. Facebook has taken the position that your page followers should be looked at as a way to make your paid advertising more effective. Your brand can create more targeted posts (ads) that are likely to appeal to those type of followers. Facebook spokesman Brandon McCormick said, “Advertisers should think of fans as a means to an end, not as the end in themselves. The end should be business results.”

Unlike the broad market reach of newspaper or Yellow Page advertising, with social media marketing, you are able to target much more precisely to the type of person that would be looking to hire your company or get involved in your organization in some manner. This can actually save you money in the long run because you are getting your message out to people who are more willing to buy from you at a lower cost.

So what does an organization do about their decreasing Facebook post engagement?

With the proper strategies for your Facebook posts, you can help your company increase engagement and start getting some attention again. However, this may mean putting some money (boosting) behind your posts. The good news is, at least for the time being, you can see results for the small investment that will be required. Of course, as advertising becomes more and more competitive, those rates could change.

Here are some things you can try on your own to help get a handle on your social media marketing.

Be much more selective about what you post on Facebook (or any other social media channels).

In the past marketers have done very untargeted marketing. With social media, you need to get selective about your publishing. You can’t just throw spaghetti at the wall and see what sticks, also know as the spray and pray method. Your goal is to get as much interaction from a single post as you possibly can.

Every single post you put on your brand’s Page should be targeted to a specific audience, whether you are paying to boost it and a sponsored post or not. This will improve the interaction with the post as a whole among people who are likely to find it relevant and interesting.

Encourage your fans to engage with your posts when they do see them in their feeds.

This can be as simple as adding a reminder to “Please like and share” at the end of your posts. As they engage more with your posts they will start to see more of them.

Share engaging videos on Facebook and post them directly to the site.

While I still highly encourage you to produce and post videos on YouTube — it is, after all, the second most searched Search Engine online — you should be taking those same videos and also posting them on your Facebook page.

Studies have shown that native Facebook videos have a 186% higher engagement rate and are shared more than videos linked from other sites. It’s a good practice to get in the habit of distributing your videos on multiple platforms, not just one.

Start broadcasting Facebook Live videos.

While we are on the subject of videos, if you aren’t already doing so, start broadcasting on Facebook Live! According to Facebook, users tend to spend 3x more time watching live videos than traditional ones. So start coming up with some sort of Facebook Live strategy for your business.

It’s also a good practice to generate buzz on all of your social media accounts when you are about to go live. Share authentic and behind-the-scenes content to attract the interest and attention of your viewers.

Put your time and effort into your owned assets, like your website.

I am actually surprised at the number of people who feel they only need Facebook for their business or organization and don’t want to mess with a website, which they have a lot more control over.

Understand that Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and others are all owned by other people, which makes you subject to their terms and conditions. It could all go away, or change drastically, tomorrow.

Business owners should still be spending the majority of their time and effort creating content such as blog posts, ebooks, case studies, or videos, which they can then share on social media with links back to their website. This type of content will continue to give them inbound traffic, leads, and customers in Google searches, long after they were posted to a social media site.

Invest in your website today. It is going to give you much more bang-for-the-buck long-term.

Begin to treat Facebook like a paid ad platform.

Keep in mind, it’s only a matter of time before your organic (non-paid) reach on Facebook is going to hit zero, so it’s in your best interest to start to treat it like a paid platform now.

Facebook should be used to reach out to your target audience to increase awareness of your brand or to encourage them to engage in a particular call to action (CTA) — whether it’s to come to an event, to buy a product, to join your mailing list, or to contact you for more info.

Build your audience by using social media, but the end goal should be to get them to engage with you directly, not on a social media platform. And, in treating it like a paid ad platform you should be aware of things like:

  • Conversion Tracking to track the action of website visitors after viewing your Facebook ads.
  • Custom Audiences so you can target your ads based on your email list. You do have one of those right? If not, why not?
  • Lookalike Audiences to target Facebook users who are similar to your customers.
  • Audience Insights to learn about your Facebook audience and better target your ads towards them.
  • Website Custom Audiences to target Facebook users who have visited your website in the past.
  • Facebook Exchange which places retargeted ads on Facebook for users who’ve visited a certain product or service page on your site.
  • Customizable Reporting that is available to you based on the metrics that matter the most for your company.

But, it sounds so complicated!

Actually, it is not really that complicated, however, it can be pretty time-consuming to do it correctly. Coming up with a tailored Social Media strategy that includes the creation and boosting of compelling social media posts does take time. This is often time that the average business owner has little to spare of.

If you need help in this area, our Social Media Marketing package will help you to do just that. We offer a turnkey social media service that handles everything from ideation of your content calendar to optimizing your boosted post campaigns. We create hyper-targeted audiences on Facebook to reach users who are most susceptible to what you are advertising. Feel free to contact us if you would like a proposal for social media marketing services.

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Nora Kramer

Designer + Brand Strategist at Nora Kramer Designs
Nora Kramer is a graphic designer, website developer, and online marketing consultant, based in the Tampa Bay, Florida area, with over two decades of experience in graphic design, website development and company branding. She also has a passion for photography and writing. Nora received the Charlie Award (1st Place) in 2002 for "Best Magazine Feature Article of the Year" from the Florida Magazine Association for a cover feature article she wrote for "Create," a graphic design magazine. You can follow all of her social media channels at about.me/norakramer.
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