Organic may be all the rage in the culinary world, but on Facebook, it's falling out of favor.
Facebook defines organic reach as “the number of unique people who saw your post in News Feed or on your page, including people who saw it from a story shared by a friend when they liked, commented on or shared your post, answered a question or responded to an event.”
In other words, organic is basically free marketing. But it looks like organic is dying a slow death.
At a time when Facebook is rolling out a new look and controls for its Facebook pages, it is also making it harder for businesses to get their content seen for free. In February, organic reach hovered around 6 percent, about half of what it was in October of 2013, according to recent analysis by Ogilvy & Mather.
Facebook has been having conversations with clients over in recent months about what it calls the "declining organic distribution in News Feed," a spokesperson told Entrepreneur.com. Facebook says the reach of posts will vary, so it hasn't specified what an average page can expect to see.
"Like many mediums, if businesses want to make sure that people see their content, the best strategy is, and always has been, paid advertising," the spokesperson said.
Of course, Facebook has never been completely free. Regardless of whether or not a company pays for visibility, someone has to run the account, even if that person is an intern. As with traditional advertising, paying for reach doesn’t mean users will "share" or like something either. The article, photo or video still has to strike a chord with the audience.
The demise of organic reach could end up hurting the small businesses trying to make a name for themselves on what could very likely be a shoestring budget.
It’s not all bad, though. Brands will have to be more selective in the content that they share and promote to make sure they get more engagement with their followers. As Ogilvy & Mather points out, the Facebook changes reinforce the need for businesses to explore all channels like Twitter, Pinterest, etc. instead of committing to a single medium.
Facebook, meanwhile, is offering brands new (and free) ways to experiment with pages. This month, Facebook is rolling out what it calls a more "streamlined" look to the Pages. One fixture is the "Pages to Watch" feature in the Page Insights tool that allows administrators to create a list of other businesses and compare their performance to their own.