The new Facebook algorithm is bad for brands too

Facebook Algorithms and Brands

Here are the basics of the newest Facebook algorithm:

  • The first update will improve the experience for people who do not have a lot of content available to see. Previously, there was a rule that you would not see multiple posts from the same source in a row. But Facebook is now “relaxing” that rule.
  • The second update ensures that the content that is posted by the friends that you care about — which includes photos, videos, links and status updates — will be higher in the News Feed so that you are less likely to miss it. If you enjoy interacting with Facebook Pages that you have “liked,” then you will still see that content. Facebook said it will try to strike the right balance of content for each user.
  • The third update is in regards to the interactions that your friends have with a post. Many people have complained about seeing stories about their friends liking or commenting on a post so those stories will be placed lower in the News Feed or not at all.

If you look at that SlideShare above, it’s about the whole transition from “organic reach” to “paid reach,” which is now almost fully complete: organic reach for brands is basically dead.

Quick personal example of almost no relevance: I “liked” the Sacramento Kings on Facebook about 17 months ago. You know how many times I’ve been shown a Kings post in my NewsFeed? Zero. 

Quick personal example of more relevance: when I started working at my new job last July, I liked their page on Facebook. I’ve never been shown a single one of their posts. It seems like some of my co-workers have, since I see them “like” some stuff here and there, but I wonder if they seek it out.

Facebook needs to keep the stuff you actually care about — your friends — at the top of your NewsFeed, because that will keep people coming back. (Who wants to come to a site that just shows you ads and brand posts all day?)

At the same time, though, they are a public company now; they have an obligation to make money for shareholders, and advertising is a part of that, so they hit brands in the wallet.

It creates a situation where “Hey, if you want access to 1.4 billion people” (which you won’t get), you need to craft some really nice piece of content and then pay to put it in front of me. In reality, that content will actually be clicked on by a number of people roughly equivalent to the number that would see it if you hung the same flyer at a laundromat. Most people don’t get that.

The problem is — and especially with Facebook, which marketers and ad people love because of the huge user base — is that these strategies involve chasing reach, and they also involve chasing reach on someone else’s real estate. That’d be like trying to throw a party at Cameron Diaz’s house because there might be people there anyway. Then, a week later, you say “Hey, Ted’s party was great, right?!?” and someone says, “You mean Cameron Diaz’s party, right??!”

If no one remembers the thing was yours, then is that really “power branding” or whatever you just up-sold your boss on it being?


Facebook is an acquisition arena. That’s it. You want to take people from there — and the amount of people you can take is going to be limited, yes — and move them over to where you really work and play, be that your website, a brick-and-mortar store, whatever it is. It’s a place to find and acquire in moderate doses. It’s not a place to chase reach, because unless you want to pony up, that won’t happen.


Ted Bauer

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