Facebook Limiting Your Organic Post Reach

This past weekend, I fell into a somewhat troubling conversation with a friend on Facebook. First, I guess, a little background would be helpful: Like a lot of authors, I have an author page, to which I tend to confine posts about my writing. For one thing, I don’t want my friends and family to feel like I’m spamming them with stuff about the writing gig. For another, I have been known to post political items on my timeline, and I don’t want to take a chance on alienating readers needlessly.

Makes sense, right? But then I had this conversation on my personal timeline. “Is Crosswind out?” my friend asked. I told her it was, and in fact, it had been out since November 20th – a good two-and-a-half weeks. And then she said that she had missed the news, which surprised her, given that we’re Facebook friends, she’s a fan of my page, and she knows me from Message Board X where nothing was posted about the book.

Okay, Message Board X is my fault. But I’ve had numerous posts on my fan page about the new book. I’ve posted links to my blog – where I ran a post about the new series every week last month – on both my fan page and my personal timeline. And yet, she hadn’t seen any of them. And this is a person who is online a lot. So what the heck, Facebook?

As an article from Ad Age explains it, Facebook is admitting that it’s limiting “organic” post reach, basically because it wants to force businesses to buy ads. And by “businesses,” they mean you and me.

In other words, unless you pony up, you can’t rely on Facebook to get the word out about anything anymore. I mean, I guess it would work if you set up an event and send an invitation to everybody on your friends list. But it strikes me as counterproductive to have to set up an event every time I have a guest post somewhere. Maybe that’s just me.

So what’s a frugal indie author to do? Google Plus is one social media alternative, but it doesn’t have the number of eyeballs Facebook has (although if Facebook won’t show your content to those eyeballs unless you pay them, the numbers may be closer than you think). Or you can get your friends to help you make a lot of noise on Twitter (although I’m not convinced that sells books, either).

Or you can send newsletters. I’ve started using Mail Chimp, which David Gaughran recommends in one of his books. For that, you need to develop a mailing list. Jim Devitt wrote a post on building a mailing list from your blog; you can also encourage people to sign up on their own. But my friend said she never signs up for newsletters because she tends to delete them without reading them, and I know she’s not the only one (*cough*I do too*cough*). The conversion rate for e-mails, even for just getting recipients to open the thing, is pretty dismal. But it might be better than Facebook these days – and unless your mailing list is huge, sending a newsletter is still free.

I’m open to other ideas. Anybody have one?

Author: Lynne Cantwell

Lynne Cantwell grew up on the shores of Lake Michigan. She worked as a broadcast journalist for many years; she has written for CNN, the late lamented Mutual/NBC Radio News, and a bunch of radio and TV news outlets you have probably never heard of, including a defunct wire service called Zapnews. But she began as a fantasy writer (in the second grade), and is back at it today. She currently lives near Washington, DC. Learn more about Lynne at her blog and at her Amazon author page.

24 thoughts on “Facebook Limiting Your Organic Post Reach”

  1. You just have to keep plugging away.For a guy who said money wasn’t important, since he went public, it’s the only thing that matters. Gonna have to use a combination of them all in hopes, sooner or later, one or two will stick and show results. I watch for the articles, whether its the blog, FB or twitter for the most action and hits. I then try and mimic it without being obvious or redundant. Keep tweeking (not twerking—don’t have the figure) is the key for me.

    1. Nobody wants to see me twerking, either, direktor. 😀 I will continue to plug, no worries. It’s just frustrating when Facebook puts limits on the amount of noise I can make.

      I mean, I used to be a journalist — I know how to sort wire copy. Let me see *every* post from *every* friend, for cryin’ out loud. Well, except for the stupid game posts….

  2. I am beginning to have doubts about even having a fan page. I get nothing going on there either. Yet my profile page gets a fair bit of traffic now that I actually use it some.

    1. I get more traffic on my personal timeline than on my fan page, too, Yvonne. And I read an article earlier this year by someone who was advocating the use of a timeline instead of a fan page. I thought the idea was loony at the time, but now I’m not so sure.

  3. I hear ya, Lynne. The whole limiting post thing on FB is a pisser. I’d rather spend my advertising dollars on book ads for sales and the like that actually work rather than FB ads. I tried paying to boost a post or two and it didn’t do much, so I’m staying away from that money-sucking hole. I tend to have good conversion rates for my mailing list, though, so am sticking with that. I’m only an occasional sender since I am not a fan of when authors send out their newsletter every month or even quarterly. I usually just stick to new releases and ultra-special events.

    1. Supposedly ads work better than boosting posts, DV, but I haven’t got the budget to do them regularly. Maybe in January, I’ll give it a try.

      I’m with you on the newsletters. I sent out a total of two this year.

  4. I first noticed this last month. When I posted something trivial on my page, I got more reach – at least 300-400 views. When I posted something regarding my books or writing, I got 40-60 views. Every time. Also, I used to be a big fan of FB ads. I used them to get more likes on my page. In each campaign, I usually got 700-1000 new likes from people who did not know me at all. The last ad I ran (a few weeks ago), I got 75. SO unfair!

    One trick to use that does seem to work better is posting links in the comments and not the initial post.

  5. I got all the information about your book on face book. That’s the only way I know
    what you’re doing and your blog which I get via face book also. Maybe she just missed it.

  6. Being a sceptic, I believe it doesn’t matter what it is, just when you think you have the measure of it they change it! Why is that? In this capitalist society the answer is pretty obvious: $$$$.

  7. I wonder what the demographic of FB users is now. I know my daughter never uses it any more, and I’ve always hated it. Perhaps as FB becomes more commercial and users become more dissatisfied, something new will come along. Probably time for a change anyway.

  8. Although I don’t have any answers, I’ve seen that I can get more interest rolling on my timeline than on my fan page. Sometimes repeating the message (just once or twice) will catch people who missed it the first time. I’ve been doing some casual reading on various social media strategies over the last couple of weeks and it seems like for every method, there is someone who says it’s awful, does no good, or offers a prescription on how not to use those channels. Guess it’s back to trial and error.

    1. Nothing ever changes, right? Thanks, Laurie. Maybe I’ll start repeating myself and see if that helps. Maybe I’ll start repeating myself and see if that helps.


  9. I try Google Plus, but no one ever “likes” my posts, so I don’t even think anyone sees them. Not sure if I am not doing it right, or not. Linkedin is the same for me, no one ever acknowledges my posts. I agree with everyone about Face book. I have much better success with photos and trivial things than when I post about my books. I will keep plugging away though.

  10. I have book pages and fan pages and they see little to no activity. My main page is where the action is. I have noted that several successful branding PR people I follow do not have separate pages. Perhaps they have one for immediate family, but everything else is on a main page. Since I don’t pay attention to the ads that come from FB on my home page I would never consider buying one.
    Thanks for confirming my suspicions about separating pages. 🙂

    1. You’re welcome, I guess. 😀 I’ve got AdBlock Plus installed at home, so I never see the ads on Facebook anyway — which is why I’ve been leery about paying for any. I’ve shelled out to boost a few posts, but I’m not sure how much good that does.

  11. One thing you can try is to suggest that your page followers choose ‘Get Notifications’ (it’s an option on the drop-down menu of the ‘Like’ button on your page). That way, they’ll be told when you post something new to the page.
    Of course, posting about this option will only work if your followers are actually seeing your posts in the first place. (Catch 22?)

  12. I am sad to say that I’ve noticed this exact thing in the last few weeks. A few months ago, without ads, my page started to experience viral growth, doubling every 2 weeks, going from 60,000 to 1.1 million. We kept posting the same kind of content that people liked, providing lots of response to their comments and private messages, but then within a week it went from 40,000 new likes a day to barely 200. I suspected something like what you described and found your article through Google searching.

    I primed my page a few years ago by paying for Facebook ads. I make no income from my page, taking no donations. It is all about good will, helping people with all kinds of needs. My initial ad investment obviously got it off the ground. I proceeded with Facebook, based on the rules of the game as I understood them. I spent all of that time and energy, making the page into something that does well, doing the right things, and now I feel Facebook is effectively betraying me. I considered having an attorney write them some sort of letter, but I’m not really sure where that can lead.

    It is so disheartening to see all my past effort lead to this. -Jeff

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