No free lunch at Facebook

Remember when marketers used to view Facebook as a place to garner free attention? Now, however, Facebook is busy cashing in on its popularity by making sure brands have to pay to get their posts seen. Perhaps now marketers will pay more attention to the quality of what they post.

The news that Facebook is going to limit the reach of organic posts that its algorithm considers overly promotional has been plastered all over the marketing media. This title from MediaPost is fairly quite amusing:

“Facebook Changes Stripes Once Again, Organic Brand Posts Now Endangered”

According to Joe Mandese at MediaPost the controls will apply to posts from brands that you have liked and which are focused on direct selling, promotions or ones that reuse the same content as existing ads. I don’t know about you, but as a Facebook user, anything that cuts down the extraneous clutter in my newsfeed is a good thing. It seems that I am not alone. Facebook claims that the latest change was made in response to user survey feedback (presumably the one you can take by choosing from the list of actions on the top right of each post in your feed).

According to The New York Times, Facebook has been adapting its algorithm over the last two years in order to present users with the top 300 items each person will want to read. As a result, brand posts have been showing up less often. An organic brand post now has a less than one in ten chance of being seen by a person who has liked the brand.

The latest change means that brands are going to have to post engaging and interesting posts that add value to the newsfeed experience if they are to get any visibility. Otherwise they will have to do what they do in more traditional media: pay to put their ads in front of their target audience. While it would seem that the days of the free lunch are over, the good news is that Millward Brown’s CrossMedia studies find Facebook advertising can have good reach and impact. Depending on the brand metric examined, Facebook’s reach can challenge TV and deliver better impact.

So what do you think of the latest change to Facebook’s algorithm? Good, bad or indifferent? Please share your thoughts. 


Authored by Nigel Hollis, Executive Vice President and Chief Global Analyst at Millward Brown 


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