The Official Facebook Zero Announcement

In early 2014, Marshall Manson predicted Facebook Zero in his widely circulated paper Facebook Zero: Considering Life After the Demise of Organic Reach. If there was ever a question about if or when this would actually occur, algorithm updates announced by Facebook earlier this week seem to be the answer.

What are the updates?

Facebook announced three changes with the latest algorithm updates:

  1. To improve the experience for people who do not have a lot of content available to see, users may now see multiple posts from the same source in the News Feed.
  2. Because people have expressed a concern with missing updates from friends, the photos, videos, and links from friends will now appear higher up in the News Feed with news from pages you interact with ranking next in priority.
  3. Because of the prioritizations listed in #2, stories about friends liking or commenting on posts will now appear lower down in the News Feed, or not at all.

While this shift back to prioritizing friends and their content is aimed at improving user experience, the knock on effects for brands are undesirable, to say the least.

What are the implications for brands? 

On the question about how this will affect pages, Facebook has said, “The impact of these changes on your page’s distribution will vary considerably depending on the composition of your audience and your posting activity. In some cases, post reach and referral traffic could potentially decline.”

Or in more direct terms, do not expect any organic reach to those outside of the current fan base; and unless fans consistently engage, they are unlikely to see content from pages they have followed.

The outcome: Facebook has become another paid channel for brands, even to ensure reach within the existing community base.

How should brands now use Facebook?

As stated in Manson’s Facebook Zero paper, the end of organic reach requires a shift in brands’ approach to Facebook. He writes:

Previously, brands were using “owned” to fuel “earned”. Going forward, they’ll need to use “paid” to fuel “earned,” but that doesn’t make the earned any less valuable. Success will require deploying paid differently – in smaller increments of both target audience and spend, and optimizing in real-time to ensure that spend is efficient and effective.

Remember, the power in Facebook has always been its potency to generate earned conversation and engagement. The requirement to now distribute content via paid should not change that. If content is interesting and engaging enough, people will react and pass it on.

How to Convince Your CMO That Your Brand Should Be Using Instagram

Article by Kate Newman, Account Executive at Social@Ogilvy in Chicago.

Does your brand’s CMO consider Instagram a powerful player in the social mix? The answer should be “yes,” but his or her answer is most likely “no.” Instagram is no longer the child following behind its parent company. Engagement levels have hit organic numbers unseen on Facebook (and Twitter). Not only does Instagram boast 200 million active monthly users, 50 million of them signed up within the last six months. At that rate, there could be at least 300 million active monthly users on Instagram in 2015. You might think it’s a no-brainer that your brand should be on Instagram, but how do you convince the c-suite?

Making the Case

Balance Diminishing Facebook Post Reach

Organic reach on large Facebook pages (>500,000 fans) hit an all-time low in February 2014 with levels at 2%. According to Social@Ogilvy’s recent report, community managers can expect organic reach to hit zero in the foreseeable future. At that point, posts will require paid support to see any kind of reach and that reality is rightfully alarming.

While Instagram is not an end all be all solution, it requires little to no paid spend to see high engagement levels. In fact, engagement on Instagram is roughly 60 times higher than Facebook, and Instagram ads have seen 58 times more engagement per follower than Facebook and 120 times more engagement per follower than Twitter. Additionally, most brands are not allowed to advertise on Instagram, so paid support is not essential for success on the platform. There are only 15 approved advertisers for sponsored images because of Instagram’s sensitivity with whom they let advertise. Brands with no established presence on the platform are not even considered. Therefore, if your company is teetering on whether or not to launch on Instagram, it better start soon if you plan to advertise.

Engage An Active Mobile Audience

Instagram is a mobile social platform by nature. The only way to post content is via a mobile device. While community managers have the option to follow, like and comment on images from their desktop, they can only receive notifications through the mobile app.  If search or purchase behavior through mobile devices is high for your brand’s audience, then it’s likely that your consumers are using Instagram.

A new study by Forrester looked at 3 million user interactions on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and found that Instagram had the highest engagement for any given brand. For every 1 million Instagram followers, branded content received 40,000 interactions – Facebook only saw 700, and Twitter was 300.

Provide an Authentic Portrait Inside Your Brand

Instagram pre-approves every sponsored image for authenticity. They look for images that “capture a lifestyle, not just a product.” Only brands that do this have a chance of being granted access to sponsored images, which preserves Instagram as a place where users expect to be free of stock and studio images. One brand that does this well is GE. Through #GEInstaWalk, fans have access to a real-time tour of GE’s advanced technology facilities as seen through the eyes of popular Instagram photographers and GE’s most avid fans. Unlike other social media platforms, Instagram allows for an authentic viewpoint of your brand. The best way to connect with your consumers on the platform is by showing them what they cannot visualize from a simple Google search.

 

What’s stopping you from telling your CMO why your brand should be on Instagram?

Facebook Zero: Considering Life After the Demise of Organic Reach

 

Organic reach of the content brands publish in Facebook is destined to hit zero. It’s only a matter of time.

In 2012, Facebook famously restricted organic reach of content published from brand pages to about 16 percent. In December 2013, another round of changes reduced it even more.

By February 2014, according to a Social@Ogilvy analysis of more than 100 brand pages, organic reach hovered at 6 percent, a decline of 49 percent from peak levels in October. For large pages with more than 500,000 Likes, organic reach hit 2 percent in February. And Facebook sources were unofficially advising community managers to expect it to approach zero in the foreseeable future. (All of the detailed data, analysis and practical recommendations are in the full white paper.)

Average organic reach of posts published to Facebook brand pages for all pages and large pages with more than 500,000 likes.

The ability to build communities of fans, and then maintain contact and encourage engagement using content published to fans’ News Feeds was a critical aspect of Facebook’s early appeal to marketers. The opportunity of achieving engagement at scale motivated many brands and corporates to invest millions in developing communities and providing for care and feeding via always-on content.

With the impending end of organic reach, what are the consequences for marketers and others who use Facebook to connect with their communities? How can brands and corporates get the most from Facebook in the future? Is Facebook still a driver of “earned” conversation and word of mouth? Or is it just a straightforward paid channel? How should communities approach content and engagement going forward?

Review and download the full white paper for all of the data, analysis and detailed, practical recommendations about how brands should respond.

This isn’t an academic exercise. Facebook Zero is a reality now facing every brand and business with a presence on the platform. Action is required, and specific decisions will need to be made with regard to content planning, paid support for social media activities, audience targeting and much more. Hopefully, this paper will provide you with a practical view and practical solutions that will help your decision making process both to get the most of out of Facebook and your wider social media strategy.

Facebook Zero: Considering Life After the Demise of Organic Reach from Social@Ogilvy