You know the old adage, ‘Can’t live with them; can’t live without them.’ That’s where I’m at with Facebook. It’s like finding out an old flame is hitting the gym to impress me just after stabbing me in the back. Right after dropping organic reach down to 1 percent or less, Facebook set up a back-to-basics “Small Business Boost” tour canvassing the country to entice us all to stick around. Luckily for me, they came to Cleveland!

FBCleveland

While the vast majority of #FBCleveland’s attendees were small business owners, I noticed reporters, agency folk like myself, and even some students in the audience. I marched into the event determined to hear once and for all: What the hell is going on with organic reach?

Yes, there’s been plenty of news coverage and official explanations from the company itself, but I’ve been frustrated at the platform’s seemingly indefatigable march toward a pay-to-play model.

Here’s what I learned:

1. Organic reach is never, ever getting back together with double-digit numbers.

2. Facebook is very much aware of the astronomical reach businesses used to achieve.

3. Facebook wants businesses to purchase advertising and sponsor posts, but…

4. They do not believe businesses should sponsor every single post, essentially saying no, Facebook is not becoming a pay-to-play platform.

5. Instead, they counsel businesses to look at their top-performing content that’s gone out AFTER the drop in organic reach a few months ago:

  • Exporting data from Facebook Insights into an Excel spreadsheet and looking over top-performing posts is key to strategizing future campaigns.
  • Sponsor posts similar to those that worked in the past.
  • The 1 – 2 percent of fans who do see a page’s content could make or break a content strategy, because engagement impacts reach. That means just as much great, strategic creative should go into unpaid content.
  • Posting 3 – 5 times a week is key. Posting more often is likely an exercise in quantity over quality.
  • I left sympathizing with how tempting it must feel for a busy, sleep-deprived business owner to delete their Facebook page and move to another channel. Don’t. Frustrating as it can be, the required budget for social advertising is still incredibly low, and the ROI for strategically conducted campaigns can be surprisingly fruitful.

    To read the live tweets from myself and others who attended the seminar, visit the #FBCleveland hashtag feed on Twitter.