Don’t Post If You Don’t Have Something to Say

Why Facebook Pages should be posting less and paying more

For years now, brands and businesses have invested in Facebook as a social media marketing platform. They have developed content strategies, hired community managers and completed paid fan acquisition campaigns to increase the reach of their posts. There are now millions of Pages on Facebook representing businesses large and small, and they all want your attention.

And now those same marketers are howling because Facebook is reducing the organic reach of their Page’s posts. While Facebook once instructed that a Page could expect to reach around 16% of the people who Liked it organically (in other words, for free), now it has reportedly begun warning brands that they will soon reach just 1-2% of their fans organically. For a brand that may have spent tens- or hundreds-of-thousands of dollars buying Likes for their page, it can feel like a bait-and-switch.

Now in order to reach that broader audience, Facebook says, Pages will need to do one of two things (or both):

  1. Produce more “high quality content” that their fans want to share
  2. Pay for distribution with Facebook’s ad products

So what do these changes mean for marketers on Facebook? It means that Pages need to emphasize quality over quantity. It means that Page administrators need to pay even closer attention to what kind of content generates a response from their audience. And it may mean that brands need to put their money where their mouth is and pay to promote Page posts — all of them (or almost all of them).

Taking a step back, what Facebook is saying here is that you will not get the reach and engagement that you desire with lazy content, and you won’t get it for free. If you are hounding your community manager or social media associate or agency to post content on your Page every day, you are almost certainly doing it wrong.

With dwindling organic reach on Page posts featuring mediocre creative, and given the costs of producing content, it doesn’t make sense to publish just for the sake of publishing — you are wasting your team or your agency’s time, and may even be hurting what remaining EdgeRank juice you have (low engagement begets yet lower engagement as your future posts appear less and less in your fans’ newsfeeds).

Instead, Pages should focus on developing compelling, high-quality content that is driven by insight into your audience’s interests. Rather than crank out daily content “to keep the lights on”, produce higher quality Page posts at a lower rate, and support them with paid distribution. Try to elevate beyond chasing Likes, and instead aim for Shares, Clicks and other higher-impact responses. Use Facebook’s enormous reach potential as a way to drive engagement with your cross-platform campaign, rather than making a Page your brand’s home on the web.

There was once a common debate among social media marketers about the “value of a Like”. That’s irrelevant now, the era of the Like has passed. The Pages that continue to find success on Facebook will be the ones who can adjust to the new era, not the ones who harp on about the way things used to be.

Thanks to George Snell for reviewing a draft of this blog post and offering his input, as well as to the whole digital team at Weber Shandwick Boston whose thinking and recent conversations on this topic inspired me to write this blog post.