This afternoon, I sent this email out to our engageQ clients:

Last week, Facebook announced a major change to how much of your organic (i.e., non-promoted) content reaches people who Like your page. In short, they will no longer allow posts which are “promotional in nature” to be seen by your existing fans. This includes invitations to enter contests, product-specific posts, and so on. This change goes into effect in the new year.

This comes after Facebook already has slashed organic reach from about 20% to lower than 2%. (Through our work, we are seeing results triple the average, but that’s still about 6% — not good.)

It’s frustrating, for sure, and I kind of think Facebook has pulled a massive bait-and-switch here. They got brands like yours on Facebook with the promise of reaching people for free who like you, then cut off nearly all non-promoted options.

So, three things:

  • Starting in December, we will be conducing content experiments on your page (frequency of posts, time of posts, etc.) to provide a baseline of measurement. In January, after the changes, we will do these experiments again to see how we can achieve the maximum unpaid reach for you. You may notice these experiments in that there may be more or fewer posts each day from time-to-time.
  • Depending on the results of our experiments on your Page, we may return with a revised social strategy for you. I suspect we will recommend less effort on Facebook and more on emerging channels like Instagram, Vine, and others. But we’ll see what the data from our experiment says.
  • Regardless of the results, I expect that continued promotion on Facebook will require a larger advertising budget to promote important posts. The good news is that targeting is much more customizable when you put money behind these posts. In order to provide you with easier budgeting, we have standardized our fees for Facebook Promoted Posts. Starting December 1, […redacted…]

Please don’t hesitate to email or call me directly if you have any questions. Thanks for your business, and please don’t hesitate to let any of us know if we can be doing better!

More from Tod:  Leading/Managing the Facebook Generation

Here’s what you need to know — Facebook’s going to cripple your organic posts even more. Anything that sounds like a promotion won’t make it to the News Feeds of your fans at all. (This, of course, is because they want you to pay to reach those people.)

A Strategy to Combat This

First, use December to measure a baseline by conducting a Content Reach Audit (or hire us to do it for you). Here’s a recommended schedule:

  • Week 1: Test Frequency (vary number of posts each day)
  • Week 2: Test Types (vary between link posts, image posts, text posts, video posts, etc.)
  • Week 3: Test Content (use promotional language, promote contests, etc.)
  • Week 4: Test Times (vary between times of day)

No less than four days after each daily experiment, use Facebook’s Insights to measure the Reach and Engagement of each post. Track these numbers in a spreadsheet.

Then, in January (when this new Facebook rule comes into play), repeat this audit and track the numbers. You’ll end up with a clear sense of what stayed the same and what ended up dropping. Adjust your strategy accordingly.

You May Want to Downscale Your Facebook Efforts

While we’ll wait to see what data this Content Reach Audit reveals, as I mentioned in my email to our clients, I suspect that regular posting to Facebook won’t nearly as important as it is/was. Currently, we post between 2-3 posts on Facebook a day for our clients. Given that not much will make it to the News Feed (likely down to 0.5% of your fan base), you may want to do two things:

  • Spend more effort on strategic promoted posts than regular daily content
  • Expand into some emerging channels, especially Instagram and Pinterest. (Also to watch: Vine.)

Let me know how you make out!