Facebook has long been the major player in social media and thus an attractive venue for brands to reach consumers. At least, that used to be the case. With the continued updates to their policies regarding how many of a brand’s fans actually see their content, Facebook has created an uphill battle for brands looking to connect with their fan base. Facebook released a statement regarding the new algorithm that will determine what brand content appears in a fan’s newsfeed that has many brands worried that the decline they’ve seen in impressions is only going to get worse. The new algorithm is designed to decrease the reach of what Facebook deems “overly promotional” content. If a brand creates content designed to drive instant sales or participation in a contest, they may see a decline in organic reach. The only way for the brand to guarantee reaching their fan base on a larger scale is to buy ads on the platform.

Facebook’s argument for this new algorithm and the ever decreasing organic reach of brands is the desire  to deliver users higher quality content and a better experience (we’ll disregard the fact that decreased organic reach also means brands have to pay for ads on the platform for now). The argument makes sense if you view it strictly from the perspective that users don’t want to log in and see a long stream of ads. They may have “liked” Coca-Cola or Starbucks but that doesn’t mean they want to be faced with a constant push to buy every time they log in. However, this argument neglects to take into consideration the fact that by liking a page, the user decided that they want to make that brand part of their story and are interested in what is going on with that brand. I use Starbucks and Coca-Cola as examples because they are brands known for creating content that not only promotes their brand, but is highly shareable and often entertaining. Many brands also have special offers and contests for those loyal fans who follow them. Based on the new algorithm’s logic, those fans who are most loyal to the brand will miss out on the content designed to thank them for their loyalty because it contains a call to action or is deemed too promotional.

The balance of including ads and maintaining a social platform’s integrity has been a struggle for each platform that has risen to prominence. In each case, integrating branded content in a way that feels organic to fans and matches the platform’s community feel has been of the utmost importance. Facebook may be trying to maintain the integrity of a user’s newsfeed, or they may just be trying to generate more ad revenue. Have they gone too far in decreasing organic reach and actually harmed the integrity of their platform?

Digiday had an interesting article on this as well: http://digiday.com/platforms/facebook-ad-critic/

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