Posted by:
Carli Goodfellow, Director of Digital Influence
11th Nov 16

Calling time on Organic?

In a retailer’s mind, organic is very much the place to be. The organic market has continued to grow steadily throughout 2016 and soon, the UK’s organic market will be worth over £2 billion (Source – The Social Association Certification report 2016).


But what of the other organic marketplace?

The less healthy, less colourful, less on-tend and feel-good marketplace on Facebook, where brand content is, in 2016, being sent to wilt and where brand marketers and their digital agency partners are fighting the uphill battle of getting their content seen, without investing in paid media.

The picture here is not so rosy.

Over the past 18 months, we’ve seen a seismic shift in the way social media functions for brands. As algorithms continue to laser target which content is delivered to which users, the model of organic always-on content creation has rapidly become ineffectual on what is now a media channel above all others.

BBDO Comms recently published About Face’, a report into ‘A new approach to Facebook for Big brands’ and in it, some sobering statistics which point clearly to a sad reality. Organic reach on Facebook is dead.

The report documents how Facebook’s algorithm was initially ‘tweaked’ to start to stem the flow of brand’s content into user’s newsfeeds as early as 2012. After mass adoption of the channel, competition in the newsfeed and the sheer volume of content being published called for necessary restrictions to filter content most relevant to users. Over the 4 years that followed, these ‘tweaks’ have remodelled the way content is served, slashing the organic reach for all brands from a mean of 16% in 2012 to 6.5% in 2014. (Source: EdgeRank checker 2014).

And to make matters worse, it’s the big brands, those who have ploughed significant investment into building up their social communities to date who have suffered the most. Research has shown that brands with over 500k likes are experiencing consistently and harshly lower reach figures than those with less than 500k fans.

So what does it all mean? Does this pull the plug for brands unable to spend significantly on paid media?

It would seem not – And as influencer marketers we should rejoice!

Despite these facts, 97% of the world’s top brands still actively employ the organic posting model, resulting in over 80% of their content being published without paid for support and therefore without achieving the reach necessary to meet traditional marketing objectives.

But perhaps their objectives have shifted? Perhaps these brands are indeed ahead of the curve and no longer base their comms plans on vanity metrics such as reach and impressions which give no true indication of engagement or advocacy.

Perhaps they sit at the forefront of the growing list of brands who understand that the value a small number of loyal online fans, or brand advocates as they are known, who are served their content as a result of genuinely wanting to have a conversation with that brand are in fact of a far higher value individually, than an exponentially larger ‘reach’ of un-targeted, un-engaged consumers who can be counted as a ‘view’, but in reality have skimmed past a post, having had, in their mind, their newsfeed interrupted by brand messaging.

These changes mean that the organic market place on Facebook now perfectly lends itself to the age of Influencer Marketing, where a small number of individuals have become the key to brand success.

Organic posts can be used to facilitate meaningful interaction and deeper engagement with brand advocates who go on to drive authentic and positive Word of Mouth. It will be these individuals who not only love the brand but are willing to shout about it too. There might be less of them, but they pack a bigger punch.

It’s clear that paid has its place in the mix, and most successful marketing and PR campaigns will have paid support to drive their message to the masses, but in my mind the algorithmic restrictions and resultant narrowing of content’s reach right down to only the most interested and engaged individuals online, mean we shouldn’t be throwing all organic content onto the compost just yet!

Carli Goodfellow
Director of Digital Influence

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