Planning for the Zero Organic Reach Apocalypse

Posted on March 11th 2014

Planning for the Zero Organic Reach Apocalypse

Planning for the Zero Organic Reach Apocalypse

‘Increasingly Facebook is saying that you should assume a day will come when the organic reach [of your content] is zero.’ (Source: AdAge)

Are you surprised, in disbelief or even shocked?

I was when I first read this.

But upon further reflection, it really isn’t all that surprising. I’ve pointed this out before, and despite it being obvious, I’ll do it again; Facebook is a publicly traded company and they have an obligation to increase profits. In order to do this, they need to sell ad products.

However, this need must be balanced with the core value proposition they offer users. After all, without users, they won’t be able to sell ads.

This is a delicate balancing act that likely requires Facebook to put a limitation on the volume of business-related content they serve in users’ News Feeds. And because of this limitation, it’s not inconceivable that one day the entire allowance of Page-published News Feed content could be accounted for by businesses paying for Facebook’s advertising products.

Ultimately, this would create conditions where business Pages would have zero organic reach.

And I probably ‘like’ more businesses than the average person, but based on the domination of Page-published content in my News Feed, I don’t think it’s unreasonable to think this day could come sooner than later.

The impending organic reach apocalypse might seem like doom and gloom, but there are some things you can do to prepare your business for this seemingly inevitable event:

DIVERSIFY YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA PRESENCE

Many businesses and marketers have been putting all of their social media eggs in Facebook’s giant basket. While the platform has historically served well as a hub for social media activity, there are a number of other popular social media platforms that are deserving of your attention and effort. If the day comes when you can’t organically connect with your audience on Facebook, you may be happy that you invested in building communities elsewhere.

AMP UP YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA VALUE PROPOSITION

If your content won’t organically be served in your audiences’ News Feeds, take strides to create such tremendous value for your audience on your business’ Facebook Page that they’ll come to you. I know, easier said than done, but this is something you should be working toward regardless of declining organic reach, so consider this impending reality a motivator to amp up those efforts even further.

STRENGTHEN YOUR OWN DISTRIBUTION NETWORK

Overcome the potential of zero organic reach on Facebook by employing tactics that are more traditionally applied to driving targeted traffic to websites, blogs and other digital properties. Think about how you can use email lists, cross-promotion and outreach programs to spread your content.

ORGANIZATIONAL PROMOTION

Consider developing internal practices to tap your employees’ or coworkers’ social graphs for content promotion. It might not be sexy, but this can be an effective method to get your content in front of a broader audience.

PLAN TO PAY

I recognize this might come across as ceding defeat, but it may be a good idea to plan on allocating a portion of your advertising budget to paying for content distribution. If your business’ focus is on creating high-quality content, paid promotion of your posts can be effective without breaking the bank. Further to Facebook, we’re likely to see this become a requirement on other large social networks in the future as they continue to mature.

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The prospect of receiving zero organic reach with Facebook content can seem pretty dismal. Years of personal and professional experience on the platform have taught us all to expect at least some level of ‘free’ content distribution. And for many, this was likely the impetus for embracing social media in its early days as a marketing platform.

But times have changed, and so must we.

So long as there continues to be value for marketers to engage an audience on Facebook – which I imagine will be for some time – we’re going to need to find ways to adapt our practices to grow with the platform, even if there are some growing pains along the way.

What are your thoughts on declining organic reach on Facebook?

Would you continue to use Facebook if organic reach was zero?

As a user, do you find business content to hurt or enhance your overall experience on the platform?

As always, I’d love to chat with you more about this in the comments, on Twitter @RGBSocial or Facebook

RGBSocial

Matthew Peneycad

Matthew blogstweets, and posts as RGB Social with the aim of sharing his advertising agency experience in social media and digital marketing with businesses and brands of all sizes.

Blog: blog.rgbsocial.com | Twitter: @RGBSocial

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Comments

It's an important topic to touch upon Mathew, and I'm glad at least someone else is spreading the word about zero organic reach. It's possible that we'll reach this stage some day - and I think the diversification of your social media presence is something that all brands need to focus on.

Of course that doesn't mean that every brand should go and open up a Tumblr account - no. But find as many relevant networks as possible and use them.

Hey - Sounds like we're on the same page and I'm in complete agreemenet about platform selection being driven by relevance, not necessarily what's hot at the moment.

The thing about planning for zero organic reach is that even if this never becomes a reality, the practices that would prepare us for such an occurence will be beneficial regardless.

Thanks very much for the comment.

Matthew.

Oh I don't know. Even cable programming has free public access.