Facebook finally announced it will end organic reach for brands’ Facebook pages, starting as early as this month.
This means there is only one real way to reach the many people who like a Facebook page – pay for an ad.
To Facebook users, this might seem like a welcome development. Why must we see promotional messages from brands in addition to their ads in our newsfeeds?
However, for marketers who spent years building up a huge following for their Facebook pages, the move essentially renders their work completely useless.
At a meeting at Facebook’s Menlo Park headquarters, CEO Mark Zuckerberg emphasized that the social network would always place users above marketers.
"There is this inherent conflict in the system," he said. "Are we trying to optimize newsfeeds to give each person the best experience when they’re reading? Or are we trying to help businesses reach as many people as possible?"
It’s a stark reminder that brands don’t own the audience they access on the network: They simply rent it from Facebook.
"In every decision we make, we optimize [the user] so the people we serve get the best experience that they can," he added.
Facebook also lay to rest the idea that good content will be rewarded, regardless of its algorithm. No matter how creative a brand’s Facebook posts, it simply won’t get shown to more than a fraction of its followers. With this move, Facebook has completed its transition into a proper media channel, much like television or radio, where no brand presence is for free.
Smarter marketers will have already adapted by beefing up their social media budgets and familiarizing themselves with Facebook ad targeting tools. There are still some excellent features for marketers looking to target and engage audiences on the platform, but the days of hoping for a post to go viral on Facebook are over.
This article originally appeared on PRWeek's sister brand The Hub.