Technology

Are Facebook Fan Pages Losing Their Marketing Reach?

By / Nov 5, 2012 (photo by west.m/Flickr)

Complaints are rising that despite growing audiences, messages on some Facebook fan pages aren’t reaching their audiences. Could that spell trouble?

With Facebook, there’s a lot going on.

Between friends, brands, and apps, many voices are competing for your attention on your news feed, and the balance is difficult manage.

But now, it appears some fan-page owners are feeling the burn, claiming that their fan counts, although much higher than they were just a few months ago, are growing — but their reach is shrinking. (Is yours?)

Facebook [is] angering not just indie bloggers, small-business owners, nonprofits, and rock bands, but people employed by mainstream media outlets who have seen their hard-earned traffic shrink by as much as 85 percent.

For example, the blog Dangerous Minds says even though its fan count has increased significantly in recent months (it recently topped 60,000), it is only reaching as few as 15 percent of its fans — meaning that traffic from Facebook posts is down by more than half.

The blog recently started a campaign around this issue, suggesting that Facebook did this on purpose in an effort to encourage brands to use their recently introduced promoted posts feature. (Facebook also recently added this feature to individual accounts.)

“Facebook [is] angering not just indie bloggers, small-business owners, nonprofits, and rock bands, but people employed by mainstream media outlets who have seen their hard-earned traffic shrink by as much as 85 percent,” Dangerous Minds’ Richard Metzger wrote.

Ars Technica’s Casey Johnston has taken a more measured approach to the issue, suggesting that Facebook is balancing the needs of marketers and end users. If the site showed you everything posted by everyone you follow, “it would be at this point nothing but offers for FarmVille produce and a thousand status updates on everyone’s new babies,” Johnston wrote.

“The social network finds itself in a delicate position: For the first time, it’s trying to strike a balance between helping brands to reach users, keeping users returning to their news feeds, and making money of its own as pressure [to] produce revenue rises.”

Facebook denies that it’s “gaming” its own system with the promoted-posts model. In a recent article, the company’s Philip Zigoris said the goal is to keep feeds relevant for end users.

“From time to time we make adjustments to the ranking system of news feed to ensure that news feed stories continue to be as engaging as possible,” he wrote. “We have done this in the past and will continue to make adjustments so that people see the most relevant stories to them, every time they log in.”

What sort of work have you put into your Facebook page — and does it feel like you’re spinning your wheels? Have you noticed a decline in your metrics? Let us know in the comments.

Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is the social media journalist for Associations Now, a former newspaper guy, and a man who is dangerous when armed with a good pun. More »

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