How to Survive Facebook’s Crackdown on Promotional Business Posts

Dec 2, 2014

As they used to say on Top 40 radio, “And the hits just keep on coming.” Facebook recently announced its version of holiday cheer for the 30 million small businesses with active Pages. Beginning in January 2015, business posts that are “too promotional” will be booted out of users’ News Feed. In essence, the world’s largest social media network is bluntly informing marketers that if they want to promote their products to customers through Facebook, they need to buy an ad.

Survive Facebook's Crackdown on Promotional Business Posts

Promotional posts specifically being targeted for extinction include

  • Posts that blatantly encourage people to buy a product or download an app.
  • Posts that promote contests or sweepstakes without relevant context. Exactly what constitutes “context” has not been defined.
  • Posts that duplicate the content from ads.

Why is Facebook Targeting Promotional Posts?
In all fairness to Facebook, something simply had to be done about the glut of content appearing in News Feed. With an average of 1,500 pieces of content vying for about 300 positions in the News Feed, there is simply too much content for the available real estate. Average reach for organic posts has already dropped to 6 percent, and the end is nowhere in sight. Some industry observers have actually predicted that, barring a miracle, the time will come when Facebook’s organic reach hits the zero mark.

Another factor appears to have loomed large in Facebook’s decision: user discontent with the volume of promotional posts. According to Facebook, an ongoing survey of users found that a significant percentage wanted to see more content from their friends and Pages that they liked, and less promotional posts. Facebook responded with new volume and content controls to reduce the volume of promotional posts in the News Feed.

Will These Changes Affect the Business Page?
Pages will continue to play an important role in a business’ Facebook marketing efforts, and the new promotional posts policy is not expected to affect Pages. Almost a billion users visit Pages each month and Facebook plans to introduce additional features to the Pages platform in the coming months. Possible upgrades being considered include a direct messaging function as well as an enhanced ability for users to browse photo and video content.

How to Maintain Your Organic Reach After January
Facebook’s crackdown on offending promotional posts will be delivered via an automated algorithm, so it’s hard to know for certain whether low-key promotions from businesses that users actually follow and want to hear about will disappear along with the more obnoxious hard-core sales pitches. If your posts do get filtered out, eventually your lowered engagement signals will cost you even more organic reach.

Focus your posts on providing content that users truly care about, and if you do make a promotional pitch, keep it low-key and in the context of your overall post. In other words, don’t be blatantly salesy in your posts. Remember, the primary purpose of social media is to engage and build relationships, which is hard to do if you’re repeatedly trying to ram your product down a user’s throat.

Create original and unique material for your posts, and don’t try to skimp by recycling your paid ads.