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It has now been nearly been a month since Ogilvy reported that Facebook had made big changes to the way their EdgeRank algorithm worked.  Since then, discussions with fellow Facebook Page admins and media blog posts have all reported that they have seen a sharp decline in their organic reach since September 20th.

Since the introduction of Timeline back in April, many brands have seen their reach decrease naturally decline, as more pages and more users create content. This has an effect on what is seen on News Feed. The more user content that is pushed to the news feed, the less opportunity that your brand content will be seen by people who have liked your page.

Is this a cunning ploy by Facebook to generate more advertising revenue from brands? Or, is this a justifiable change to reflect the ever increasing number of pages and users who fan those pages?

Facebook themselves have been very quiet about the recent changes. However, a Facebook rep recently confirmed the following:

· We’re continually optimizing newsfeed to ensure the most relevant experience for our users

· One of the key factors in our optimization is engagement: the amount of clicks, likes, comments, shares etc. generated by a piece of content

· While overall engagement should remain relatively consistent as a result of our most recent optimization, your organic reach may be impacted

· The more engaging your content, the lower the impact this optimization should have on your reach going forward

· Feed is optimized to show users the posts they are most likely to engage with, where engagement is defined as clicking, liking, commenting, or sharing the post – or in the case of offers, claiming the offer.

· Posts that are more likely to be engaging tend to appear higher in feed. Some of the strongest factors that influence this are how engaging an individual post has been for other users who have seen it, and how engaged a user has historically been with other posts they’ve seen from that page. Feed also takes negative feedback into account, which is the number of people who have hidden a post or reported it as spam.

· Finally, if a page has a piece of content that it feels will be very engaging e.g. A good offer, a great photo, an announcement, etc. then using paid media to “boost” that post to fans in newsfeed can be an effective tool to increase engagement with fans

Before September 20th, all fans were created equal. However, with user numbers beyond the 1 billion mark, Facebook has decided that fans are no longer equal on your brand pages. Some fans are more likely to engage with your content than others and EdgeRank has always reflected that. However, the algorithms have been “turbo charged” more than ever before to reflect what really makes for engaging content.

How does this play out in the real world? Well, EdgeRank Checker did some tests of their own and found the following insight:

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The typical Facebook Page in their data set was experiencing 26% Organic Reach the week before the September 20th. The week after the 20th, these same Pages were experiencing 19.5%. These Pages lost approximately 6.5% of their Reach since the changes.

A reduction in organic reach, and evidence from Facebook that reach drives revenue for online brand marketers, suggests that in order to increase reach, brands will need to consider advertising as one lever of getting a brand message out there. However, it is important to remember that only the most engaging posts will react better. Sponsoring a bad post, will not give it more reach.

Brands are encouraged to experiment more with their content strategies, to understand what resonates better with their fans. Producing better, more engaging content that is “social by design”. In other words, content that people naturally want to comment on and share on will more likely make it to News Feed for longer.

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