If you use Facebook as your association’s predominant platform for engaging and communicating with your members, it’s time to reconsider your marketing communication strategy. Ernie Smith first warned associations about losing their reach on Associations Now back in late 2012, and the changes adversely affecting associations’ ability to reach their audiences organically continue.
Over the past year, Facebook has changed its algorithm so many times I’m wondering why they don’t just eliminate free fan pages all together. Here are the three most recent (public) algorithm changes:
According to Facebook its users demanded less spammy posts. This latest change targets things like:
- Asking people to like posts
- Sharing overly common posts (sorry kitten memes)
- Posting “spammy” links to commonly shared content
How this affects your association
Remember, spam is in the eyes of Facebook. While your members may love kitten memes, if the social media giant deems your association’s content spammy, your audience simply won’t see it.
To avoid being penalized for spammy content:
- Don’t ask people for likes, shares and comments.
- Do ask them for their thoughts or preferences.
- Don’t rely on the popular, easy engagers such as humorous memes and someecards.
- Do create your own visually appealing sharable content.
- Don’t share links to Internet quizzes.
- Do share mostly original content or content from highly valued sources.
February’s Brand Reach
For a brief moment, those using Facebook for professional reasons rejoiced. This change allowed brands (and celebrities) to tag other brands/celebrities for greater reach by potentially making the post visible to both brands’ followers. For instance, if I followed Van Morrison and the Psychology Association tagged Van Morrison in a post, I could potentially see the Psychology Association’s post. However, before you start tagging celebrities in all of your association’s posts, know that Facebook reserves the right to decide which followers, if any, will see the posts.
December’s Facebook as Content Publisher
In an attempt to increase the amount of relevant “news” and high quality content users see in their streams, Facebook struck out against memes and other frivolous content. According to Facebook, “people prefer links to high quality articles about current events, their favorite sports team or shared interests, to the latest meme.” Thus began Facebook’s campaign to be a content publisher not a community.
How this affected your association
Since associations produce high quality content and newsworthy items, your association’s content undoubtedly percolated into every one of your followers’ news streams. Sadly, the only way this occurred was if you paid for it.
Despite its lure of 500+ million users, your association will never appear in front of even a fraction of them and that’s okay. Yet the size of Facebook’s audience is the exact reason marketers and membership directors flock to it.
Facebook is a for-profit company and unless you’re buying ads, and lots of them, you’re not getting a key to its audience kingdom.
Organic reach is dying on Facebook. If you have content and messaging that must be seen by your members, Facebook is not the place for it. An association-owned community, blog or website protects you from the whims of the algorithm. It’s also the only way you can ensure everyone who wants to see your information can.