Why Businesses Can’t Rely on Facebook for Organic Traffic in 2018

If you’ve noticed much less engagement on your Facebook business posts lately, you’re not alone. Between the Explore Feed test launch late last year and general algorithm changes, many businesses saw organic traffic referrals sharply decline. For example, media analytics company Parse.ly noted a 25% decline in Facebook organic traffic referrals from February to October 2017. Yet during that same timeframe, Google organic traffic from searches and AMP referrals rose by 17%. And interestingly, businesses using the social media behemoth’s native publishing format, Facebook Instant Articles, saw organic reach fall 6%, too.

Small businesses – especially solo practitioners with little to no marketing budget – can’t rely on “free” advertising via Facebook posts anymore. So let’s look at how to mitigate these losses and potentially get more organic traffic for your business in 2018.

What’s the Facebook Explore Feed?

The Explore Feed’s a new Facebook feature designed to keep users happy and ad revenue rolling in from business accounts. The idea is pretty simple: Remove all business page posts from users’ personal news feeds, unless companies pay for placements. In October 2017, Facebook launched a test in Slovakia and five other countries to gauge user response to this shift. According to Facebook, the test didn’t go beyond those six countries, but publishers located elsewhere saw organic traffic decline nonetheless.

While users outside the six test countries can now access the Explore Feed, Facebook’s Adam Mosseri says it works differently. In the United States, the Explore Feed shows unpaid posts from brands and companies you don’t currently follow. But for businesses generating organic traffic from Facebook posts, this new feed and ongoing algorithm updates may spell trouble.

If you’re looking for the Explore Feed on your phone but can’t find it, you’ll have to scroll down some. Visibility is better on desktop (closer to the fold), but here’s what it looks like on mobile:

Facebook Explore Feed Organic Traffic Decline

Algorithm Changes Also Impact Organic Traffic on Facebook Posts

Even before the Explore Feed launched, many business accounts saw engagement, organic traffic and reach decline significantly on non-sponsored posts. For example: Let’s say you run a business page that has 600 followers. That’s not a bad number, and in spring 2014, 150 of those 600 total followers probably saw your unpaid posts. But media content distributor SocialFlow reviewed 3,000 publishers’ pages in June 2016. They found organic reach per post declined 42% within just four months. Simply put, the only way to know your followers will see your business page posts is through paid placements.

Furthermore, it doesn’t really matter how much content you produce — though the company prioritized showing live video content in 2017. But if Facebook sees that you’re asking your followers to react to, comment on or share your posts, watch out. The company calls this tactic “engagement baiting,” and if you’re still doing this, your organic reach is probably already dead.

Even with video posts, algorithm changes could still negatively impact organic traffic to your business coming through Facebook.

How Small Business Owners Can Recover After Organic Traffic Losses on Facebook

So, what’s a solo legal practitioner or small business operating in a niche market to do? Here are three options to try:

1. You can run paid posts on Facebook

Though promoted posts do reach more Facebook users, we can’t show performance metrics without revealing proprietary data. If you’re looking to raise brand awareness or promote a new office location, then yes, paid posts work well. However, you may also spend marketing dollars on sponsored posts that fail to drive any new leads to your business.

2. Supplement your cost-per-click (CPC) and pay-per-click (PPC) campaigns with paid Facebook ads

While Google’s Adwords is the biggest player in this scenario, it’s designed to fit within any advertiser’s set daily budget. If you’re in the financial services or legal industries, PPC and CPC may not be the best option. That’s because the keywords associated with these industries can be extremely expensive, according to 2017 CPC data. Number four on Google’s top 25 most expensive keyword list, “lawyer,” averages $54.86; next is “asset management” at $49.86. In 17th place is “loans” at $40.69, then “mortgages” ($36.76) and “banking” ($31.43). Ultimately, you may see better ROI with Facebook ads alone than would bidding on costly Google AdWords.

3. Outsource your lead generation needs to LeadingResponse

We limit how many clients can purchase leads in any given territory. In addition, we screen prospects for quality before delivery. As a leader in the client acquisition industry, LeadingResponse currently delivers one million qualified leads each year. Partner with us and use our free, yet optional Lead Management System (LMS) software to monitor lead intake in real-time. Want to quickly scale up business without hiring and training additional staff? For a nominal fee, you can outsource your cold-calls to our U.S.-based call center, which boasts a 70% contact rate.

The online marketing landscape moves fast. That’s why we constantly evaluate and improve our campaigns to maximize lead volume without sacrificing quality. For fully optimized campaigns that deliver the best value for your money, partner with LeadingResponse.

Contact us to see what LeadingReponse can do for you, and the right person will respond within one business day.

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