A recent survey has shed new light on how effective Facebook is as a marketing platform, with worrying results. Of the 48 organisations from the UK, US, Netherlands and Canada that took part in the survey 58% of them had reported that organic outreach had declined, meaning their Facebook Posts were reaching fewer people than before. This would be worrying news for any company looking to promote or raise awareness of their product or service on Facebook as it highlights that maybe it isn't the most suitable platform after all.

This downward trend in organic reach isn't seen across the board however, with 7% of respondents reporting that organic reach had stayed the same and 25% stating that it had actually increased. This proves that Facebook is indeed still an effective marketing medium, although this depends entirely on the activity of the promoter. The survey highlighted that organisations that post updates on their Facebook page on a regular basis were more likely to report that organic reach had either increased or stayed the same, showing that with Facebook the more you put in the more you get out. 
In response to the majority fall in organic reach 79% of the survey's respondents actually plan to either carry on posting updates on their Facebook Page as they have been doing or spend additional time on it, just 10% indicated that they would use their Facebook Page less often. 
Another way Facebook can be used to increase footfall on a company's website is by linking Facebook pages to a company website. The survey indicated that 27% of respondents said that Facebook was sending more traffic to their websites, 19% reported no noticeable change and 31% said they were experiencing less traffic to their website.
Referrals from Facebook to company websites showed no correlation with the organisation's organic reach, meaning that organisations with an increase in organic reach were no more likely to report increased referrals from Facebook. Surprisingly enough, not all organisations share links to their website on a regular basis, preferring to engage with the community on Facebook instead and this could have also had an effect on website referrals.
It is clear therefore that Facebook is a useful marketing tool that can allow companies to reach wide audiences if used correctly. Facebook does have a feature in place to allow updates to reach an even wider audience where companies can opt to pay to produce "Promoted Posts". These promoted posts appear in the news feed, highlighted as "Sponsored" posts (shown below), as opposed to in the sidebar like all other Facebook advertisements, thus making them much more noticeable.
52% of survey respondents intend to use Promoted Posts but the majority of these organisations will use them in specific circumstances only, 25% percentage of respondents however have no interest in ever using Promoted Posts, for whatever reason, furthermore 2 of the organisations have already used promoted posts but are not intending on using them again.
So are promoted posts the way to fully utilise Facebook as a marketing tool?
An example of a company that uses Facebook exceedingly well as a marketing tool is Zappos. They have created a close-knit community for their loyal fans which includes over 1 million people. Zappos have ensured they keep their audience engaged through a combination of competitions, discussions, posts about their clothes and shoe ranges as well as encouraging fans to interact with them via Instagram. Fans of the Facebook page will then share it, allowing their friends to see it and thus increasing the reach of the page.
Promoted Posts can however be useful to small businesses that have not yet developed a fan base significant enough to further increase reach substantially. A number of different companies have used one promoted post to penetrate or break into the market to raise awareness of their brand or a particular offer and this has allowed them to further increase their organic reach without the use of additional promoted posts. 
In order to achieve the best organic reach possible a constant presence on Facebook needs to be upheld, posting multiple times per week seems to be ideal. This will help to develop and expand your fan base and continue to engage your current audience. Promoted posts can be used as an effective tool to help raise awareness through reaching a much larger audience, considerably raising awareness, but are not always required to have a strong online presence. 
Orchid Box is an online marketing agency that specialises in PPC advertising and Search Engine Optimisation (SEO). 
For more information on organic reach in Google and how to raise awareness of your company give Frank a call on +44 20 7097 8906.