Is Facebook decreasing your post reach to get you to buy “Promoted Posts”?

It’s not often anymore that I get to write on my blog. Between work, my girl, my kids, and 28 soccer games every weekend, blog time is not what it once was. But occasionally there comes a need to vent, and today is that day.

In June I was hired by Omni Hotels & Resorts to head up their social media efforts, which of course meant managing their social channels. Great fun, and after a wildly successful promotion on Social Media Day, our Facebook following had grown a respectable 60% in the first month. Posting was more frequent, improved content meant engagement was up, 38,000 likes. I began to experiment with content, crafting some posts designed to increase shares, and others increased likes. All growing nicely.

Fast forward to August. I decide that in the interest of evaluating Facebook features and planning for larger-scale campaigns, I would experiment with 3 “Promoted Posts” to measure how content design and paid promotion affect the organic and viral numbers. The result? Got some nice reach, up to 39,000 people saw my best post.

Then I stopped paying for posts, and went back to posting the same way I had before the paid promotion.

And my reach began to plummet. Not to the level that I had been reaching before the paid promotions mind you, but FAR below.

The Specifics.

OmniHotels has a following of approx 38k likes.

At the beginning of August, we were getting approximately 13-18,000 people (out of 38k) “seeing a post”, without paid promotion.
August 8th
ZERO shares
12672 ppl saw it, 11950 Organic, 737 Viral

Then we ran the 3 “promoted posts”, and paid $30 for each to get a wider reach. After we ran them, around Aug 20th, our reach numbers began dropping DRAMATICALLY, as you can see here:

Now, despite running similar posts to those run in the past and getting similar or BETTER levels of engagement, our reach appears to be being choked, so our posts aren’t being shown to nearly as many people, as is seen in this post we just ran:

August 29th
Despite MORE likes and shares, only 7878 ppl saw it, 7662 Organic, and only 221 viral. Out of a following of 38k.

This is NOT a sole occurrence, it is now happening repeatedly when I post.

The conspiracy theorist in me thinks it’s pretty non-coincidental that I paid to promote a few posts, and then when I stopped, my post exposure suddenly drops to HALF of what it once was…

In spending some time doing searches on this issue, I am finding people like myself starting to ask questions, like here, and here.

Facebook, I want to give you the benefit of the doubt and say that your algorithm simply needs work. I want to believe that you respect the importance of what you built, and that you get that companies use huge resources to build their following in this media channel. (ok, had to stifle a giggle on that one) And I really want to believe that if a person clicks “Like”, it means that they WANT to see my updates in their feed, and don’t want you deciding for them. And finally, I would love to believe that due to a lackluster IPO you wouldn’t be choking a customer’s reach in order to to try to tempt them into spending more money with you. Say it ain’t so, Joe. er…Mark…

Mostly, I just hope you’ll employ and maintain ethical business practices, and allow us to grow with you. We’ll spend money, but not if we think you’re cheating us.

What are your thoughts on this? Experiencing similar? Are my crazy conspiracy theorist colors showing too much?

Will you share this post, and help find some answers?

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