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Many brands have spent the past several years getting consumers to 'like' them on the world's most popular social network, Facebook. And for a seemingly good reason: when it comes to location, location, location in social, you can't beat Facebook, which may surpass the 1bn registered user mark this year.

But after a recent lavish event Facebook held for brands in New York, brands may be asking whether Facebook is working for them, or they're working for Facebook.

As AdAge details, Facebook used the event to remind brands that only 16% of their Facebook fans actually see the content they post organically on the social network. That's because, in an effort to protect the user experience, Facebook's EdgeRank algorithm filters out content that may not be relevant.

But in the run up to the social network's IPO, Facebook is willing to give brands a greater ability to ensure that their marketing messages reach a much larger audience. For a price of course.

AdAge explains:

Facebook unveiled a tool, Reach Generator, that will let marketers buy all the reach they want. Priced according to the size of a brand's fan base, the tool is designed to take a piece of content and amplify its reach by resurfacing it as an ad.

The pitch is that just 16% of fans currently see organic content posted by brands: Most of it is weeded out by Facebook's EdgeRank algorithm, designed to enhance users' experience by putting only the most relevant content in their news feeds. Using the paid ad tool could increase a brand's exposure percentage to as high as 75%.

As PHD USA's chief digital officer, Craig Atkinson, told AdAge, "Many [clients] have spent significant sums to generate these fan bases, and many of them thought of those people as though they're an owned asset, almost like an email list ... but now it looks like rented media." Rented media indeed.

Brands really shouldn't be surprised. After all, this has been Facebook's modus operandi for some time. From the numerous privacy changes it has foisted upon its users to the promises it has made to developers and then broken,

Facebook rarely does favors for others. Now that it's going public and needs to put the pedal to the metal in the drive for revenue, brands are being taken on a ride many of them didn't see coming, or didn't want to see coming.

Patricio Robles

Published 5 March, 2012 by Patricio Robles

Patricio Robles is a tech reporter at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter.

2391 more posts from this author

Comments (4)

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Nick Stamoulis

Just another reminder that Facebook owns your page, you don't. That's why it's so important not to lose focus on the web properties that you do own, like your website or blog. Focusing too much on a Facebook page, and not your own website is a mistake.

over 4 years ago

Neale Gilhooley

Neale Gilhooley, MD at Evolution Design

Big Brands; I bet you wish you has read that T&C box you just ticked without even reading.

Not that could have done it differently on FB but don’t ignore your own channels as they do belong to you.

over 4 years ago

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Steve Allard @Wise- Facebook Analytics

Beware, 16% of the fans seeing a page's content is an average, based on a Comscore study (March 2011).
Some brands are doing much better than that... and some much worse.

over 4 years ago

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Deirdre Attinger

I feel that the Facebook algorithm to limit reach is just a ploy to generate revenue for Facebook. I have noticed that there has been a significant change in the reach of our Facebook Brand page posts. I can't recall a specific date however I am aware that the reach of our FB posts lowered significantly within the last 4/5 months.

We have worked hard to organically build up the number of people who like our page- it has taken up a daily resource, so it seems a shame that we now need to pay if we want our full FB audience to see posts.

To overcome this, rather then constantly churning out offer/deal posts specific to our site, we also add fun/silly items to encourage more viral responses. So far, so good :-)

about 4 years ago

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