Does the Nosedive in Facebook Reach Affect How You Market Your Art?

Have you noticed?
Facebook has dramatically reduced the number of people who are organically seeing the posts on your business page.

Graph showing Facebook Reach
Graph showing Facebook Reach for the Art Biz Coach page since August of 2013.

The reach of your posts has probably gone down 50% or more since October of 2013. This means that even though someone has liked your page, they probably won’t see what you share unless you pony up and pay for promoted posts and ads.

Deep Thought

Is this major change in the Facebook algorithm going to change the way you market your art?


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58 thoughts on “Does the Nosedive in Facebook Reach Affect How You Market Your Art?”

  1. I have worried about this very issue and keep returning to the question of whether I should kill my Fan Page and just maintain my Personal Page, as I have seen many artists do. Now that people can follow your Personal Page, and there is not the limit on “friends,” I am not really seeing the benefit of the Fan Page. I was curious to see if my chart resembled the AB posts, and discovered that one of my posts with the most reach just happened this past Monday. I had great news to share and it really got out there. Of course, my numbers are nothing compared to AB, but that gave me some hope and made me wonder if it is more about content than consistency.

  2. Just learned something _ from one of your “grads”! If an individual has LIKED a PAGE (artist or business) if they GO BACK to that “LIKED” button, there is a dropdown that allows them to Check ..”View all posts”
    Seems incredibly arduous, and not very likely to happen !!! At the same time it seems impossible to find a list of all the Pages once has Liked in the past … a Catch 22 situation!
    The other take seems to be that it is necessary to form a GROUP to make sure at least all posts can be viewed if a Member goes to the Group to see what has been posted since their last visit!
    just puzzled as ever! …thank you for your generous work, Alyson!

  3. Victoria Pendragon

    OK… so my numbers on my ‘business’ pages have actually gone up without the ‘boosting’… that said, my art is not on my business pages, it’s on my personal page and it’s always been there for the same reason: people are buying a piece of me when they buy my work. Also, most everyone who knows me is curious about my work because it’s not usual stuff so when I post there, my ‘friends’ notice… and I have a lot of ‘friends’ because on my website, I tell people to friend me on FB.
    I don’t ‘sell’ my work on my personal page, I post it as a reflection of what I’m doing. If it generates interest, it generates interest. People message me. In fact, I learn a lot about how people respond to my work by my friends’ comments… or lack of them! LOL
    Meanwhile, I am a writer as well as an artist (self-help books) and I have my business pages linked to post simultaneously on Twitter. Every post I make contains my website, thus driving readers there and, thanks to Google Analytics, it easy to see how well that works!
    Yes, this takes organization but I have been graced by the universe with a big dose of that so I have a schedule and I stick to it. Paint through 2 CSs > Post > answer messages > start over. Other stuff, like laundry or meals or hour long phone calls with clients just gets plugged into that schedule and I pick up where I left off. It’s doable.

    1. Victoria, it sounds like you use Facebook the same way I do. My studio/business page exists, but I don’t use it as often as I probably should. It’s the personal page that gets the most activity and my far the most conversations. It is as you’ve experienced, people use Facebook because they want to get to know you better, not just look at your art. For that reason, I also produce a lot of posts that have nothing to do with art. Progressions photos of current works get a lot of attention. They do not dominate my page, which is probably part of the reason the number of likes and comments are often high. Those progressions photos also generate pm requests for commissioned works or availability of something I recently posted. Like you, I can tell which works resonate with people because of the comments, and I can also tell if I have a good bet with a proposed body of work when I post preliminaries and the comments come back.
      I’m not as organized as you, and have given up on Twitter. Facebook is working really well for me though so I’ll keep at it. When I am working in the studio, my reference photos are on my laptop, so consequently I’ll have a browser window open to FB and running in the background. It may appear like it, but it doesn’t mean I’m camped and reading, it’s just availability – something I learned from a FB marketing seminar I took locally a couple of years ago. FB doesn’t distract, and I don’t get tonnes of messages, but when I do they’re most often business related and I’ll respond when I’m waiting for a layer of paint to dry. Yes, the personal page has been far more effective for me than the business page. The change to the availability of business pages on the feed have been inconsequential.

    2. Victoria Pendragon

      Yes, it sounds like you do, Julie. Glad to hear that it seems to be good for you too!

  4. dear allison, it seems that the reach of FB to “friends” has definitely decreased, and due to a couple of things. FB “fundraising” is one real big one, and I would add in also another double whammy that work in tandem: not everyone checks in multiple times per day, or even per week AND there are so many postings that it is like a slew of junk coming at you. and how many people want to fish through pages and pages of stuff? yes, over the last couple of months comments and likes are way down. and don’t get me going about all the big box ads that take up a page or two… hot topic! – stay warm, leslie (sticking with my newsletter)

  5. After attending a conference last weekend I can see, that for me, tweeting is the right way to go. Many of the art directors and editors are “young people”. They tweet, follow, and know who is who. Now this is for children’s illustration, but I now believe this is the quickest and easiest way to pick up followers. Also short and sweet wins these days.

  6. Despite my efforts, Facebook has done nothing for me and so I’ll simply chalk it off as a waste of time. In addition to my regular website I also have a site on Fine Art America and an Etsy shop and find that my time is more profitably spent interacting with the communities on those sites. Alyson, I love your blogs and your book. I have my first solo show in late summer and have just printed out your April 2 blog as a reminder of what to do!

  7. Hello Alyson,
    Thank you for the opportunity to comment on this topic. In my day job, it has become clear that the purpose for using FB as a method to communicate with those who ‘like’ a page, has been significantly affected by FB’s proprietary algorithm. It effects those that have 5K likes or more. I’m unsure whether it is also applies to personal pages versus business and/or fan pages. In any case, whether to use FB on a free or paid ad basis should be a serious consideration for all users of it, especially if you’ve created a page to market your art. Since I’m not a full-time artist, FB really doesn’t pay (figuratively) for my time in posting to it to inform others of my work or art-related topics. In fact my blog is a better avenue with greater visibility. I think FB’s days are numbered and users are already transitioning to other social media options (including Twitter which one of the other posts above mentions). I’m already considering removing art posts from FB or at least reducing the number of them.

  8. I’ve found that FB gives very little value.
    Posting seems to get lots of likes sometimes, mostly if an Image is posted with the post and/or at least one person comments on it.
    But, it doesn’t seem to create much click through to my web site, people are just content with clicking ‘like’ within FB, and then that is it 🙁
    Ah well, keep on trying… 🙂

  9. Hi Alyson
    I’ve been enjoying your blog posts for several months now, though this is the first time I’ve commented. I, too, have found that engagement from my fans is down, but here is an interesting thing that happened last week. I posted a new cover on my fan page, with a question, and 45 people saw it. Then I posted another question to the page, and 65 people saw that. Then I posted a new item in my Etsy shop with a link, and 1 person saw that. I have 814 fans. So, it seems if you post with a link to a shop page, those are the posts that FB wants you to pay to boost. After 2 years of building up my fan base, it now appears that, unless I’m willing to pay, it’s almost pointless to continue posting new items. I get a lot more traffic from Twitter, especially now that I’ve started working with proper hashtags. I’m still a beginner, but I learn fast.
    Keep up the great work!

  10. Hi. I have had great success on selling from my Facebook professional page. I continue to get “fans”, albeit slowly. I notice that if I post a new painting early in the morning, 6:30/7AMish, I am reaching people who check their fb before their day starts. I will continue to use Facebook along with postcard mailings,to my client list, 3 times a year. Facebook, postcard mailings & show announcement emails, along with a personal, thoughtful thank you note for each painting sold seems to work for me. Hope this information helps someone. Carpe’ Diem, Marilyn

  11. When we all found out that the current owner of Facebook had stolen the code, I knew it was time to reduce my risk…Artists don’t support thievery…Since then I pared Facebook to a minimum & increased all the other networks…

  12. Aleta Jacobson

    I have some friends that “paid” for the “post boost” and created “ads” that cost also on Facebook. It’s not good. They paid and got very little boost and the one that paid for an ad got one person that she had told about it already.
    I do wonder about a fan page or business page vs a personal page. I have a business page and personal page. I also belong to a few group pages and I post the same thing on all of them and get maybe a bit more viewers and likes. Mostly it’s one or two each time. It’s slow to get people to see your posts and keep seeing your posts. I think it is better than nothing. I also wonder about the new “selling” for your business on Facebook. I would like to know if anyone has tried that and if it works.
    Thanks for all the posts here. So helpful.

  13. I’m having the totally opposite experince since FB changed what people see from my page since last October. My likes keep increasing – I had around 5000 at the beginning of Jan – 10,000 at the beginning of March – and now have 35,000+.
    All I’ve done for the past couple of months is post a couple of flower photos a day and reply/thank people who comment/share my photos. Prior to that – I had posted quotes/links to my website, etc several times a day. Posting less is making s big difference in both the reach and engagement of my photos.
    At this point – it’s not uncommon for a post to reach 5000 people in 24 hours – some have gotten over 1000 likes. And I have no idea why my page has taken off.
    I’m in the process of redoing my website and developing two new freebies that I’ll be promoting on the page when they are ready. I’m hoping to move at least some of the new fans to my list – and convert some into collectors. Because while FB is working really well for me now in terms of expanding my audience – who knows how the next set of changes (and we know there will be one) will affect my page

    1. Victoria Pendragon

      Patty, I think the replying and thanking thing is huge, I know it made a difference for me too.

    2. I ran a couple of FB ad campaigns in Dec for my holiday notecard special. The ad was targeted at people who hadn’t like my page – but had liked one of the big wildflower or rose pages (cards are roses and wildflowers).
      Total cost of the 2 campaigns was about $ 20 – 7 clicks throughs to my website – no sales. According to FB – I got one like from the ad campaign. Campaign ran for just over a week – starting on the Sunday after Thanksgiving
      Based on the lousy click through rate (to say nothing of the lack of sales) I pulled the plug on the campaign – not sure if I”ll try FB ads for something like that again.
      THe campaign ended 6 weeks before the likes really took off – so don’t think it had anything to do with all the likes and engagement

  14. I have been very concerned as for the last couple years, FB has provided nearly 30% of my sales. My FB numbers and interactions are declining (even though I continue to use it the same way, and my fan base is consistantly the same). So I’ve decided to primarily use FB to share information not available anywhere else – in process photos of my daily paintings which are easily watermarked and uploaded from my phone. I will continue to send out my daily newsletter and I will continue to blog every day – this will include the finished artwork and links to the FB album where the in process images are. And I’ll make sure the FB album includes a link back to my blog so that interested viewers see the finished work and have purchase information. Hopefully this way I will take advantage of the fact that FB posts with visuals tend to grab the viewer more so than straight up textual ones, and I’ll still be active in the FB platform in case things change.

  15. I use Hootsuite to post to my FB page which also tweets my posts. I also use hootsuite to post to Google+. I have been trying to get up the interest in really posting to tumblr. I realize that to get followers I have to follow and post more but most of what I see on tumblr just isn’t that interesting enough to follow. Unless I’m looking in the wrong places.
    I don’t get a lot of reach on FB but, as I said, it’s a portal to get my posts elsewhere. I don’t just post about my items either, I post about many other things related to art and fine craft. And science. And silly things. I keep my personal page just that – PERSONAL. I don’t want my friends to be bombarded by my business postings-that’s a good way to lose friends.

  16. Deborah Bollman

    This FB thing concerns me a lot as I was pretty much relying on FB as my primary source of sales. I’d post a painting photo and sell it. It was that easy. In October I noticed sales fell off dramatically and I experienced my worst holiday sales year.. Ever. I thought it was my work … And I make my living selling my art and this was really bad. I just read an article in Slate magazine that FB has reduced it’s reach of Liked pages to only 1-2% of the page Likers. That’s down from 80%!! That’s huge and it started last fall. It’s being called the biggest bait and switch in Internet history. I learned my lesson about putting my eggs in one basket and am now trying to rewrite a marketing plan for selling online. Not sure where to start.

    1. Deborah: Sorry to hear this. I’ve been warning against this for several years now. Too many artists did the same thing you did: rely on a site that was out of your control.
      Are you blogging? I’d start there.

  17. I’ve noticed a HUGE drop in viewings on my FB page. I have ~300 likes to it…and most of the time VERY few people see what I post.
    I’m focusing more on Twitter and Instagram…and my personal FB gets more attention than the page.
    Although I am not ready or willing to pull completely away from FB, I am wondering where else to promote. Much like everyone else here.
    Thanks for the heads up about viewing all posts. About a year ago, I noticed that I do NOT see the pages I like in my feed and I TOTALLY MISS them. That includes yours, Alyson. I have to go to another section entirely to see the pages I like…and most of the time very few show up.
    Ah, well. NEXT!

  18. You know I thought I was going crazy when I was looking at my decreased number of reaches. Thanks for bringing this up!

  19. Thank you for sharing this info! It’s been a heavy topic with many business friends of mine, because we can’t seem to understand the “logic” (or lack thereof), for people not responding to our posts-so we share biz info, to our personal page. This bit of info will DEF affect how much time I waste on social media (aka how I use it)! It’s almost best to just have a personal profile only, which I’ve slowly been converting to a business page, anyway. Id rather be creating products, than messing on most social media anyway, to be honest. So yes, this affects how much I target my energy for FB page-posting! Thanks again for the article and solving that mystery!

  20. Thanks for asking this question, Alyson.
    I don’t have very many fans, less than 100 for my business page, but I, too, have noticed a precipitous drop in viewers for each post in the past few weeks. I just went back through posts going way back in 2013, and for me the numbers didn’t fall until very recently.
    I know that a lot of my fans are fellow artists so I haven’t put much weight on the business page as a way to sell my art, and it hasn’t sold a thing. It’s a nice way to post instantly with just a few words, but based on this new development, I will go back to posting more frequently to my blog where I KNOW it reaches everyone signed up as a follower. I will probably be posting more art related stuff to my personal page where I also know that a lot of my friends are NOT artists.
    If FB continues on this path, I may eliminate the business page altogether and simplify my computer time. I do agree that this development is very much like a bait and switch by FB to get us all dependent on our business pages until they pulled the rug out from under us and then tell us we have to pay to get the viewers that once were free.
    I am liking the FB business ethics less and less as time goes by.

    1. Is it Bait and Switch or just a responsiveness to their new stockholders?
      We can’t really fault them for trying to monetize hundreds of millions of members.

  21. Kathy Partridge

    IMO, if you’re a small business or non-profit, there’s little point in bothering with a FB fan page anymore. I certainly wouldn’t bother starting one now. Pages that had built up a big following before FB’s IPO are probably still doing okay; 2% of 30,000 Likers is still 600 pair of eyeballs seeing their posts. I haven’t shut my page down yet, but I recently removed all links to it that I had on my website. Why encourage people to find my page on FB if they’ll rarely see anything from it?
    Most of the artists that I’m aware of, have an active presence on FB via their personal page. They either turn on “Follow” (all followers see your public posts) or they accept friend requests from just about anybody who is a fan of their work. It appears to me that FB also limits what they show to friends on your personal page, just not as strictly. I read something recently that said FB’s goal is to be the world’s go-to place for news, so they give priority to news outlet posts on everyone’s feed.
    One thing I’ve noticed: FB shows posted pictures to far more people than they do posted links. That’s because they don’t want people to leave FB to go read a blog post or article elsewhere. So, instead of posting a link to your latest blog post on FB, post a relevant photo and include the blog post link in the caption. More people will see it that way, at least for now. But your reach still won’t be that great.
    I think in the not too distant future, FB will end up being the place people share silly cat videos with family and real friends + big corporate pages with the money to promote. There will be no small business or non-profits engaging on FB, because they’ll be invisible.
    I’m spending much more time on G+. Still trying to figure out how it works exactly, but I’ve gotten twice as many people to circle me in two months as I’ve gotten on FB in 4 years. What I need to do is post more stuff more regularly.
    Beware of Instagram, too. I’m not on there, but I understand FB owns it, so they’ll no doubt be figuring out ways to hold your fans/followers/whatever hostage on there as well.
    Here’s one small business that left FB, very publicly and FB basically shrugged.

    1. Kathy Partridge

      I have a personal page only on G+ and intend to keep it that way unless G+ forces me to do otherwise. I’m a little gunshy now because of the FB experience, so I want nothing to do with business pages. Besides, as another commenter pointed out, people really want to know the artist before they buy a piece of your work and I’ve noticed that they seem much more comfortable interacting on my personal page.
      To start getting the hang of G+, I recommend What the Plus! Google+ for the Rest of Us

  22. Theresa Martin

    At this point, I say that Facebook is no longer a valuable marketing tool for a business. I’ve seen several business requesting their fans to Like, Follow, AND Get Notifications. It generates too many emails/notifications if one does that for every page on FB that one likes. FB pages used to work well before EdgeRank and this new change came in.
    As a consumer I’ve gone away from Facebook, and back to subscribing to newsletters and following blogs. I make an effort to see the pages on FB that I like, but it IS an effort, therefore I don’t keep up as much there. As an artist, I believe newsletters, mailing lists and blogs are a more effective way of marketing.

  23. I’ve given up on my facebook business page. Sticking to the personal page for now but I still think my emphasis needs to be on my blog.

  24. Despite FB’s poor decisions to filter our feeds, urge people to pay to promote posts, and sometimes disregard our settings, I still find the site has value, just not the same way it did.
    Groups, Events, and developing a good network, are still good tools on FB, but the Fan Pages (business pages etc) One might pay for a site with their own domain name as the URL, one without ads, one with lots of control. But one does not pay to be on social media, where we and our data have always been the product, and that’s littered with ads, many very spammy sounding. I don’t know many artists who’ve paid to promote posts but those who did mostly said it was a waste of money. I think that was one of the most self destructive choices FB made, to hold our posts hostage from our followers’ and friends’ feeds unless we paid. Dumb, FB…just dumb.

  25. I’ve been trying to make the switch to Google + because of the FB issues, as well as bumping up my blogging frequency, Twitter presence, and Pinterest. It’s a learning curve, because I was a total FB devotee, but is quickly turning out to be well worth the effort. I’ve also made some incredible connections on Linked In.
    I haven’t pulled the plug on FB, but I do find myself wondering why I bother with it at all.

  26. By Malayka Gormally. Wow, this is a super helpful thread. I’ve been debating about starting an artist (i.e., business) FB page and this certainly makes me think twice about it. I would love to hear more about artists’ experience with Google+ and how to go about using it.
    I’ve a social icon for my (personal) FB on my website, but its a good point that if few people will see my posts due to changes at FB, maybe it will do more harm than good to have a FB icon on my website. I’ve noticed that I am not getting any posts in my feed from other artists (with professional pages) who I have “liked”.
    I am trying out use of Google authorship, which requires the byline with the post. I am not sure if it needs to be embedded in the post…
    Thanks all!

  27. Late thought…Just reading about how Facebook marketers can expect to reach only about 6% of their audience now…Seeing that number makes me realize, that that (sorry), that that is the “normal” rate of reach for marketers in other business media formats…The truth is is(sorry again), that if people are now mostly using Facebook as marketers or advertisers (choose your semantic), then a 6% rate is to be expected…Higher rates of organic reach are reserved for genuine friendship conversations, which are disappearing from the net as it is becoming monetized like everything else…(a reminder:The Winklevoss twins invented Facebook as a means for Harvard students to get to know each other…It wasn’t supposed to be about money in the first place anyway)…

    1. Victoria Pendragon

      Well put, Sari.
      (And I believe I once read that the rate of response for direct mailings was only 2%.)

    1. Oh sorry Victoria, I’ve been sleeping so well since reading your SleepMagic methodology book…(smile) Yes…Rates of response for business type invitations, direct mailings, artist gallery shows, are really only somewhere between variously 2-6% at best…Which is so important for artists to know, so instead of feeling depressed that only 4 people responded of 100 invited, they should know that is actually normal…To expect 40 you need to invite 1000…Facebook is just falling into the business marketplace’s return rate formula…

    2. Kathy Partridge

      What FB is doing is actually quite different than the standard direct mail response rate.
      If you have 1000 people on your mailing list, and you “snailmail” them all an invitation to your next show, you can expect the typical response rate. Let’s say 5%. So that’s 50 people who show up to eat your wine and cheese and hopefully buy a few paintings.
      However, suddenly the Postal Service decides its budget problems are just too much and it can no longer afford to handle millions of pieces of mail the way it has for decades. It decides to use the “Facebook solution” for cutting the volume of mail it has to deliver. From this point forward, any and all bulk mailings that you deliver to them will be cut by 95%. The PO will randomly decide which pieces to deliver and which to burn out back, but no more than 5% will actually land in someone’s mailbox. (And it could be less.)
      So, of your 1000 invitations, the PO burns 950 of them and delivers 50 to the addressees. You, of course, have no way of knowing who got an invitation and who did not. You only know that 2.5 (5% of 50 response rate) people showed up at your opening. This is what Facebook is doing.

  28. Yes, better analogy…Of course, you paid for delivery in one case, & in the other, most are using Facebook for free…I’d be pretty upset had I paid something…

  29. I haven’t read all the comments but have read most of them. Your post prompted me to take a look at equivalent chart and I have to say I see no drop off at all on mine.
    There again I think Facebook is targeting Pages for a business like yours with a high level of visitors in a different way than ones like mine. You’re openly selling your services and they may think you should be advertising with them!
    Personally I’ve got no time for the Facebook adverts – I have yet to hear of anybody who has any success with them – my view is they’re a total waste of time – which is what leads us to the changes on Facebook this last week or so. They’re trying to get their act together so their advertising business works better. I don’t know who the Matt Cutts of Facebook is but he’s writing emails about how they’re changing – see
    The recent changes since mid April make it very clear that we need to be a lot more careful about:
    * how we write posts and
    * how we like and unlike posts and pages.
    One example would be the frequency with which we post our content relative to others. Another example is how we word posts. I wrote a post about this yesterday which is looking like it might go viral
    I think one of the things that sometimes artists fail to grasp is that accounts are personal and Pages are business and it’s best to split your activity accordingly. That in part would account for how well FB works for artists in terms of selling artwork.

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