Facebook's Big Changes Basically Don't Mean a Thing for Apartment Marketers

Featured blog post image

Late last week Mark Zuckerberg, founder and president of Facebook, made an announcement about upcoming changes on the social network. Essentially, the network wants to move away from pushing people toward content and back toward pushing people toward being social with their friends. Here is how Zuckerberg explained it:

The research shows that when we use social media to connect with people we care about, it can be good for our well-being. We can feel more connected and less lonely, and that correlates with long term measures of happiness and health. On the other hand, passively reading articles or watching videos -- even if they're entertaining or informative -- may not be as good.
Based on this, we're making a major change to how we build Facebook. I'm changing the goal I give our product teams from focusing on helping you find relevant content to helping you have more meaningful social interactions.

In other words, Zuckerberg is saying that your news feed will soon have fewer posts from brands in it and far more posts from friends.

What will this mean for apartment marketers?

Pretty much nothing.

How should we adapt to the new normal with Faceb— Wait... what do you mean?

This won't affect you at all.

But it's Facebook! It's the world's largest social network! How can it not affect us?

Well, what Zuckerberg is saying is that brands are going to be appearing less often in the news feed. But that's kind of a dumb thing to announce because... brands weren't appearing in the news feed before last week anyway.

We measure the visibility of a brand on Facebook using a metric called "organic reach." Organic reach is the number of people you reach for free when you post from a page. And here's the thing: organic reach has been in decline for awhile.

Digiday wrote about the decline of organic reach in April of 2017. HubSpot also tackled it around the same time last year. But attentive marketers know that this problem didn't just pop up in 2017 out of the blue. Facebook organic reach started to trend down in 2012 and in 2014 WordStream said that Facebook organic reach is "rapidly approaching zero." Again, organic reach was approaching zero in 2014.

This is why Mark Schaefer, one of the smartest writers in the marketing blogosphere, told people not to worry about these changes in his recent post.

But we can push the point further: Even back when restaurants and sports teams and other business pages were getting leads and sales from Facebook, you probably weren't. This is because Facebook was not traditionally a tool people used for intent-based shopping. You didn't look for apartments on Facebook.

Facebook is trying to change that by introducing features like Marketplace. But traditionally it's not a great commercial platform; it's a great social platform. Businesses that can profit off that sort of sociability—restaurants that can post pictures of their food, sports teams that can reach fans, or a local concert venue that can post videos of performances—did alright. But highly intent-specific businesses never did much business on Facebook.

So even when organic reach was really high—way back in the late 2000s—even then your apartment community was probably not pulling in tons of leads from Facebook.

So if brands were already not showing up in the news feed, why is Zuckerberg saying that brands are going to stop showing up in the news feed?

Because he wants to scare brands.

Yeah, that's cynical, but hear me out: The biggest thing his comments do is create an illusion of a new-found scarcity within Facebook. It creates a feeling of urgency amongst brands: "Oh no, Facebook is going to stop showing our posts! What can we do?"

There's only one answer to that question and eventually every brand is going to get there: "Buy ads with Facebook."

And because of the illusion of scarcity that Zuckerberg has now created, it's likely that many advertisers are going to be more aggressive in their strategy, which increases competition on Facebook ads, which simply means more money for Facebook.

What should apartment communities do about the changes?

If you have an active Facebook page, the chief people benefitting from that are probably current residents who use it to look up specific pieces of information—when an upcoming event is happening, other community news, etc. You can keep posting on that page and using it to communicate quickly and efficiently with residents. Your posts aren't going to show up in news feeds, but they haven't been for years anyway.

The other thing you might do is experiment with posting apartments in the Marketplace section on Facebook. Marketplace is an entirely different section, separate from the News Feed, so it won't be touched by these changes. What's more, Marketplace is explicitly commercial in nature so people using it are on there because they are looking to make a purchase. Post on there. If you want more information about it, check out our informational post about what apartment marketers need to know about Marketplace.

Finally, be a critical reader of announcements like the one from Zuckerberg. Organic reach on Facebook for brand pages has been dead for a long time. All that announcement did was attract attention and possibly lead to a panic amongst brands who use the platform. Don't let Zuckerberg fool you. This is not a big deal.


Download Free Ebook

RentVision white outline of icon

Who We Are

RentVision enables you to generate more qualified traffic when you have a sudden increase in vacancy, and saves you marketing dollars when it’s under control.

Our articles are free to share! To learn more about sharing with your association or company, see our Citation Guidelines.