Why is it so difficult to get content seen on social media?

Those of us managing social media accounts have surely realized the increasing difficulty in gaining organic impressions over the last couple years. Reaching target audiences has become so difficult that the industry standard sits around 2%, meaning that approximately 2% of your brand’s audience will actually see any given post.

In a recent discussion on the topic presented at Social Media Week Toronto, The Globe Edge’s Managing Editor, Sean Stanleigh and Social Media Strategist, Aletta Brandle, brought these issues to light:

More Users

There are more social media users than ever, both for personal and business reasons.  According to Statista, 71% of global internet users are also social media users and over 90% of businesses  use social media to reach and engage their target audiences. At first glance, more users means more potential eyes. However, all these users are also sharing their own content, consequently leading to greater competition.

New Algorithms

Prior to the introduction of algorithms, social media feeds showcased content in reverse chronological order, making sure users never missed a single post. With the increased number of users, feeds became packed with content. To improve the user experience, platforms introduced algorithms to sort content in a user’s feed based on relevancy instead of publish time. Feeds now show content based on the likelihood that users will actually want to see it, typically favouring posts from friends and family as well as promoted posts. The resulting effect: increased difficulty for brands employing an organic content strategy.

Increased Number of Promoted Posts

In the advertising industry we are seeing budgets move away from traditional advertising tactics and towards digital ones. Social media advertising spend alone has increased 2X since 2014 and continues to draw in new, paying advertisers every day.

With more brands willing to spend money on social media advertising, those that rely on organic content strategies are feeling the negative effects. Organic impressions are becoming even harder to obtain, especially when they’re up against promoted posts. The increased competition for impressions is pushing social media into a “pay-to-play” game.

Changes to Facebook News Feed

In October, 2017, across six small markets, Facebook began testing a major change to it’s news feed. The change introduced a divide in how content is presented and could be detrimental for publishers relying on an organic publishing strategy.

The change divides up the news feed into two separate feeds. The primary feed housing all content from friends, family and paying advertisers, while the secondary feed displays all other non-promoted posts. This change, if permanently implemented, will further shift platforms into a “pay-to-play” field, where publishers have to spend money in order to get content seen. Accounts relying solely on organic traffic, such as Buzzfeed or Tasty, will see certainly experience a decline in impressions.