If you are a real estate professional that operates a business page on Facebook, please note the following changes:
Organic reach is dead. I repeat — ORGANIC REACH IS DEAD!
What Is Organic Reach?
Organic reach is the amount of people you can touch on Facebook without paying money. Each time a post is made, “organic reach” refers to how many eyeballs saw your post before you spent a dollar.
Facebook employs a complicated algorithm (formula) to determine who sees what post at any given time. The busy newsfeed that alerts you of what your friend did, what car your neighbor bought, who got a new job, etc., is all based upon that algorithm.
As soon as someone signs into Facebook, auto-play videos, game request, large images, status updates, and so much more are vying for that persons attention. Now that smartphones have made it easier to share content with a simple click of a button, the amount of content being distributed is constantly increasing!
Many businesses are paying premium dollars to ensure their message is heard and seen louder than all the rest. For example, according to Facebook’s Brian Boland, a person could potentially be bombarded with at least 1,500 stories once they sign in. Of those 1,500+ Facebook only shows about 300 of those updates.
This shows that Facebook does NOT employ “realtime” updates– meaning you will NEVER see every post from ALL your friends at the EXACT time they shared it. Instead, Facebook strives to display the top hundred stories they believe are most relevant to you (based upon your previous activity). This formula is their attempt to create a happy and enjoyable user experience.
Unfortunately, a post from a business page tends to take backseat to all other updates. A family members relationship status, a best friend’s comment, a game request, or more importantly– a company that uses paid advertising– will take precedence in the busy newsfeed. This means organic reach is dwindling!
Social@Ogilvy has been tracking organic reach, and continues to notice a drop in its influence. 16% of followers engaged with a brand page post in 2012, down to 6% in February 2014 for smaller pages and now just 2% for pages with over 500,000 followers. Based upon the statistics, they expect organic reach to approach zero by the end of the year.
Realtor Rama Mehra of Keller Williams Danville confirms these statistics. She is constantly in the top percentile of homes sales, and her numerous awards have distinguished her as an elite Realtor. Unfortunately, when it comes to Facebook, she has noticed a continual decline in the engagement and reach of her business posts.
“I have noticed the engagement dropping as well. I have been posting my property listings on Facebook and the engagement is almost nil.”
What is the Future of Facebook?
It’s official, Facebook is exclusively a paid marketing channel. Businesses can no longer expect a “free ride” on this platform. If you want to promote your business page– expect to throw out a few dollars. Facebook says it best:
Like TV, search, newspapers, radio and virtually every other marketing platform, Facebook is far more effective when businesses use paid media to help meet their goals. Your business won’t always appear on the first page of a search result unless you’re paying to be part of that space. Similarly, paid media on Facebook allows businesses to reach broader audiences more predictably, and with much greater accuracy than organic content.
Some marketers are angry, and feel that the “decay” of organic reach is simply a sneaky way Facebook can bring in more revenue. Then there are others, like Luxury Realtor Jim Walberg, who recognize Facebook as a money-making business, but use that to their advantage.
A top producer in the San Francisco Bay Area, Jim Walberg of Pacific Union can thank Facebook for 30 referrals and 29 closed transactions from individuals he never met in person! He has experienced pure success in social media, and is recognized as a leader in the industry. Jim is often asked to sit on panels and speak at conferences to share his social media success stories. As much as Facebook has contributed to his bottom-line, he feels it is only reasonable to pay for their service.
“I recognize that Facebook is in the business to make money. If I can use their platform in a cost effective way— I am delighted to do it! If people are complaining, it is because they don’t understanding the strategies of winning.”
Facebook denies the accusations that their goal behind paid advertisement is money-making. They argue that the devaluation of organic reach is a “natural progression” meant to ensure an enjoyable user experience. Whatever the reasons may be, Facebook continues to shift– and it is getting increasingly harder to stand apart.
How Realtors Can Combat the Death of Organic Reach.
So, how can your business page succeed on Facebook? The first, most obvious answer would be to set aside money to advertise. However, doing so means you could become susceptible to “fake likes” which will negatively affect your influence. We talk about this in detail in the article Fake Likes? Is it Really Safe to Advertise on Facebook? Rama’s experience with Facebook has made her skeptical about spending money to boost her page or content. Even after paying, she noticed little to no engagement on her posts:
I even spent money on boosting posts but I honestly don’t know if I am to believe Facebook when they send me a report saying my post reached 20,000 people !! I have always wondered how the post is showing up in their feeds since I never get to see it!
Jim on the other hand, regularly promotes posts that he thinks is beneficial to his audience. He believes geo-targeting is the answer to the fake likes dilemma. When Jim posts, he only promotes his content to the specific zip codes he does business in, keeping away most of the fake followers and bogus accounts. Geo-targeting his posts also gives him the ability to provide hyper-localized content that is extremely valuable to the communities he desires to reach.
Still, advertising on Facebook remains a controversial subject. Some, due to the sheer number of active users, advertise on Facebook and have no fear of gaining a fake following. Then there are others who find paid promotion pointless and unprofitable to their business.
How Should I Advertise On Facebook?
1- There are a couple of options. You can set aside a budget and say “goodbye” to the idea of reaching your audience the “organic way.”As mentioned earlier, spending money to promote the content on your business page comes with risks, and has not been the perfect remedy for many. But there are an equal amount of Realtors who agree that Facebook advertising is profitable to their bottom line.
2- Share content on your personal account because Facebook prioritizes personal status updates. Updates on your personal account will automatically be distributed to more friends and have higher exposure than a business page ever could (unless you pay to boost it). Using your personal account to share content automatically results in higher “organic reach” because more people would see your content in their newsfeed.
When marketing and engaging online, the standard rule says 80/20, where 80 percent of your content is personal, fun, informative information that benefits your audience and the other 20% is promotional content about your business. While there is no way to predict your online success, you do want to constantly add value to your audience.
When Jim shares on his personal Facebook account, he asks himself the question: “how do I have a ‘high-touch’ experience in a social media world?”
He believes one goal of social media is to have a “high-touch” experience, where the agent is constantly sharing useful, beneficial and inspirational content to their audience. One way he does this is through direct messages. Whenever one of his friends, customers or prospective clients has a birthday, he takes the time to send them a unique message and a link to his favorite Happy Birthday song.
Jim also believes it is important Realtors know how to act online. He offers some practical advice on the “do’s and don’ts” for online behavoir:
“To play a game successfully you have to have audience…you have to figure out the strategies that work. When you behave on a personal page— behave as if you are a guest at a backyard bbq. Don’t bring in big disagreements. I don’t talk about politics and I don’t talk about religion.”
On the other hand, Rama continues to stay active on social media platforms such as Facebook, Google+ and Linked-in, but attributes much of her success to the timeless practice of “face-to-face” interaction. She places very little confidence in Facebook and is not convinced it is essential to her business.
“We are Realtors and our job involves Facetime with clients. All these advertising platforms, including Facebook are a complete waste of time and money like the fad of QR codes- look how fast it came and went.”
Do I Even Need a Business Page on Facebook?
If you are a Realtor on Facebook, I would say yes. Not necessarily because it is going to drive traffic to your site, spur engagement or reach thousands of potential customers, the main reason you need one is because many consumers have come to expect it. If you do decide to operate a business page, make sure you keep it up-to-date and current with your activities. There is nothing worst than a business page that hasn’t been updated in 4 years! If someone visits your page and finds it out-of-date they may wonder– “are they still in business?”
There is no perfect formula for social media success. Jim Walberg and Rama Mehra, both highly successful Realtors, have different methods and experiences with Facebook. Yet, one commonality they share is their ability to provide valuable and useful information to their audience, whether online or in person. The most successful Realtors gain influence, engagement and customer satisfaction not because they follow a formula, but because they are genuine, authentic people who aim to positively impact the lives of each person they meet.
So what do you think? What is the best way to combat the decline of organic reach?
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