It’s no secret that most photographers today are closet marketing professionals. That’s what happens when you are running a small business in a saturated and competitive industry. It pays to know how to get above the noise. That’s why Facebook’s recent change to their algorithm, retiring their famous EdgeRank system, is huge news for photographers everywhere.
Facebook’s new algorithm, as yet unnamed, is focused on a few things—improving the quality of content that shows up in people’s newsfeeds, making room for more organic content, and trying to squeeze more ad dollars out of businesses that have become adept at using their brand pages as free advertising.
Facebook maintains that they are making the change because more people are sharing. More people sharing means heightened competition for space.
In a Facebook sales deck obtained by Ad Age, the company was explicit about the effect the new algorithm will have:
"We expect organic distribution of an individual page's posts to gradually decline over time as we continually work to make sure people have a meaningful experience on the site."
What this means is that users will see less content from brand pages and more content produced by major publishers like The Atlantic, Buzzfeed, etc.
Ignite Social Media recently put out a chilling report on the effect of the new algorithm. After analyzing 689 posts across 21 brand pages of different sizes and industries, they reported that organic reach had declined by 44%. Some saw declines up to 88%.
Prior to the update, a brand could expect their posts to reach about 16% of their fans. Now, brand pages will be lucky if they hit 3%.
That means that all the time that photographers have spent cultivating likes and fans is likely wasted, unless they are willing to turn to Facebook’s paid ad distribution, which is probably too expensive for most photography businesses and is, by many reports, far less effective than posts that show up organically.
So how do you adapt?
Like Google’s Panda update, the focus is now on quality content that people engage with. Cheap clickbait like memes won’t work anymore. That may be good news for photographers whose quality photographs garner likes and comments. It also means that its more important than ever to produce quality content directly for Facebook as well as guest blogging for reputable web publications and sharing stories that people care about.
Its hard to know at this point whether Facebook’s downgrade of brand content will destroy the marketing utility of a brand pages. If it does, it may become more effective to use your personal profile as your main marketing tool. It likely has more reach at this point anyways.
We’ll update you in the coming weeks and months as we find out more.