Surveying the Damage of Facebook's Algorithm Changes

Nate Mendenhall
Nathan Mendenhall Manager, Cendyn/ONE

Posted on December 25th 2013

Surveying the Damage of Facebook's Algorithm Changes

ImageWhenever Facebook makes changes, people come out of the woodwork panicking and claiming the sky is falling. With the most recent updates, this could appear to be true for a few reasons. Recent studies have shown that the newest Facebook Algorithm changes have had a negative impact on the organic reach of many Facebook pages. Before we dive into the study, let’s review what exactly what Facebook changed.

In efforts to put the news back in the Newsfeed, Facebook applied changes to the Newsfeed algorithm which reward high quality news stories, blogs and articles. Users will see more prominent news stories and will also notice recommendations for other stories to read. This is all fine and dandy, but what does this mean for the beloved image posts? Facebook has said that they are trying to better understand what makes an article or news story “high quality” and also reward brands that publish great content. Brands that have relied on memes and cute kitty pictures should be worried. Actually, all brands should be a bit worried. This change could force you to rethink your entire approach to content creation. My main recommendation here is to try your best to add high quality articles and blogs to your content mix and have them live on your website.

Now that we have reviewed the doom and gloom that is the most recent algorithm update, what impact did it have? A study done by Komfo, a social marketing company, yielded some pretty interesting results. They studied the fan penetration of 5,000 Facebook pages and found the following:

  • 28% increase in click through rate
  • 42% decrease in organic reach
  • 31% increase in viral amplification.

While the big decrease is in the organic reach of Facebook pages, it appears that the changes have had a positive impact on click through rates and virality. It might hurt our feelings to be reaching fewer people, however it might actually be better for us to reach a smaller and more engaged audience. Previously the baseline reach of a Facebook page was roughly 16% but now can be as low as 3%. Are the days of marketing on Facebook coming to an end?

I triumphantly say no. We all are now being forced to take our digital marketing more seriously and evolve past leveraging whatever the hottest meme is. We now have to focus on creating content that people like to consume, engage with and share. Also, the free ride on Facebook appears to be over. The time is now to invest a modest budget in Facebook Advertising. In the end, the decrease in stats might be frustrating, however I personally think we NEED something like this to really push social marketers to market creatively and not simply regurgitate the cutest animal picture. The true question here is if a decrease in organic reach will break people’s spirit when it comes to Facebook marketing? I would hope not, however we will have to wait and see.

What do you think about this study? Sound off in the comment section below!

Nate Mendenhall

Nathan Mendenhall

Manager, Cendyn/ONE

Nathan Mendenhall is a social media manager at Cendyn/ONE in Boca Raton, Florida. He has extensive experience with creating and implementing successful social media strategies for both B2B and B2C brands. Connect with him at @NCMSocial!

 

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Comments

This is really informative, thanks Nathan! I have to say I approve of Facbook trying to get higher quality content at the forefront of the newsfeed, because in the end they need to please their users. I hope that Facebook marketers step up and get more creative with their content. 

I found what you said about advertising really interesting, that this new algorithm forces marketers to reconsider spending their advertising dollars on Facebook. How do you think smaller brands will be able to compete with large organizations who have much higher advertising budgets? Is it purely in the quality of their content?

That is a great question. Honestly, I think you can make a lot happen with a modest budget on Facebook. You might consider throwing $5 at a particularly important blog post or event post. Realistically, the bigger budgets can bully around the smaller budgets, however if you keep your content high quality and you use your budget strategically, I think you would still be pretty competitive with brands of a similar size.

 

Thanks!