facebook pages

What Facebook’s declining page reach means for businesses—and for you

Businesses are freaking out over Facebook’s decision to show less of their updates in your News Feed. Even though you choose to follow or like a business’s page, Facebook’s algorithms only surface a small percentage of what they post.

Facebook says it cherry-picks the posts that appear in your feed for a reason. Brian Boland, the network’s ad product marketing head, took to Facebook on Thursday to explain that of the more than 1,500 stories that could appear in your News Feed on any given day, Facebook shows you about 300, to keep things interesting and relevant.

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“People only have so much time to consume stories, and people often miss content that isn’t toward the top when they log on,” Boland said in his post. “This means they often do not see the content that’s most valuable to them. In our tests, we’ve always found that the News Feed ranking system offers people a better, more engaging experience on Facebook.”

Critics claim Facebook’s algorithms are deprioritizing Page updates to get businesses to pay for ads. Boland says that’s not true, that Facebook is encouraging companies to share higher-quality content to make your overall News Feed experience better. The network is reaching out to small businesses this summer with its Facebook Fit program, a touring series of “bootcamp”-style events with speeches and panels designed to encourage your favorite local shops to be better at Facebook.

In the name of a better News Feed

There are some 30 million active small businesses on Facebook, and let’s be honest: They could use a little help. Your favorite local restaurants and retailers don’t have the marketing know-how, not to mention the budget, of major brands. But Facebook doesn’t want those businesses clogging your News Feed with memes and spam, so it makes sure those posts don’t see much exposure, and the Fit program is designed to give those small businesses some pointers.

Facebook small business team member Bess Yount organizes the social network’s events for small businesses. She hears from business owners that “organic reach has been frustrating, but it’s pushed them to set a higher bar, a higher standard for the content they’re posting,” she said.

“People need to think about it as a way to reevaluate the kind of messages they’re posting,” Yount added. “It’s not OK now just to post whatever you want, because it’s the best, most engaging content that will be seen by your customers.”

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There's a secret way to still see your favorite business's updates.

But wait a minute, you’re probably thinking: If I like a page on Facebook, that action should signal to Facebook that I want to see updates from that page. That page is interesting to me. And it does signal that—sort of. You have to take your interest a step further and start interacting with that page more regularly, Yount said. By liking content or commenting on a page’s updates, you’re letting Facebook know that you want to see similar stuff more frequently.

There’s also another way to make sure you’re always in the know when your favorite neighborhood restaurant posts about discounts or your neighborhood concert venue announces new shows. When you like a page, or visit a page you’ve already liked, click the arrow next to the Like button. A drop-down menu will offer you the option to get notifications when a new post is added.

“I have this implemented on my favorite business pages,” Yount said.

It’s not quite the same as an update appearing in your News Feed, but it’s a solid work-around until businesses figure out how to become Facebook whizzes—or start paying Facebook to promote their posts.

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