Since 2012, Facebook has been gradually reducing the organic reach of content posted by brand pages, encouraging businesses to pay for promoted posts to get in front of fans. An Ogilvy study released this month says that organic reach hit a low of 6% in February, and closer to 2% for pages with more than 500,000 fans—meaning that each piece of content is seen by almost none of the people who "like" a brand, unless the brand pays Facebook. The study argues that paying to reach fans who can share your content still has value to brands, because the reach earned by shared ads among engaged customers still results in sales. But food delivery site Eat24 doesn't agree, and has written a hilarious breakup letter to Facebook ahead of deleting its page tonight at 11:59 p.m.
On Eat24's blog, Bacon Sriracha Unicorn Diaries, the company writes, "Dear Facebook: Hey. It's Eat24. Look, we need to talk. This isn't easy to say since we've been together so long, but we need to break up. We’d love to say 'It’s not you, it’s us' but it’s totally you. Not to be rude, but you aren’t the smart, funny social network we fell in love with several years back. You’ve changed. A lot."
Illustrating the letter with images like confused Internet kittens and Pepe the King Prawn, Eat24 says they "found out you’re doing this because of a new algorithm that decides what people want to see in their news feeds. If that's true, that means your algorithm is saying most of our friends don’t care about sushi porn, that they aren’t interested in hearing our deepest thoughts about pizza toppings. Are you listening to yourself? Do you know how ridiculous that sounds? You know that all those people clicked 'Like' on our page because it’s full of provocatively posed burritos and cheese puns, right?"
The letter goes on to cite this Veritasium video asserting that Facebook's paid programs to help businesses earn more fans employ click farms that generate fake or irrelevant "Likes" from international locations Eat24 doesn't serve. The company also points to Facebook's endless design changes that put a burden on marketers to frequently update their pages. "Real talk, if we had to choose between making 142 different size banners to conform to whatever you’re feeling that particular week, or lie on the couch and think about fried sushi rolls, we’re always going with sushi. Just saying, but maybe you could take a lesson from this amazing webpage for the Space Jam movie. The website hasn’t changed since 1996 and it’s AMAZING."
Whether this kind of brand backlash could ever put a dent in Facebook's bottom line as it evolves from a pure social network to social ad platform is hard to predict. Asking brands or publications to pay up for what was once free is bound to rankle, but given Facebook's reach, brands may decide that the price is worth the interest and engagement it generates. As the Ogilvy report states, "Fans will still see brands' content in their News Feeds and, if the content is interesting enough, will pass it along to their friends. And there's real value in this. According to Nielsen, social ads that carry a friend's endorsement ('Your friend Mary likes Acme Cheese'), generate a 55 percent higher ad recall than non-social ads."
But more may protest, publicly deciding like Eat24 that Twitter serves their social engagement needs, and advertising money is better spent elsewhere. "So that’s it. We’re done," they write. "All you’re left with are some single-serve freezer meals. Us? We can eat a whole pizza by ourselves so we aren’t even worried about that."