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Facebook_add_friends_buttonIf you have a Facebook Page for your real estate business, you might have noticed that things are a little quieter there than usual. Less likes, fewer comments, decreased numbers in “x people saw this post” blurb at the bottom of your status updates.

We’ve noticed it too, so we went looking for answers. “Maybe we’re being less helpful than usual,” we thought. Or less witty. Or posting at all the wrong times.

Well, as it turns out, it’s not us – it’s them.

Facebook recently released an algorithm tweak that primarily affects business pages. And they were awfully quiet about it. So here, in case you missed it, is the when, what and why of recent Facebook algorithm changes. And how you can work to counteract any damage that’s been done.

On December 2nd of last year, Facebook changed the way it decides which stories you – and all of your friends and fans – see in your News Feed.

The posts you see in your Facebook News Feed at any given time are determined by an algorithm, similar to how Google surfaces search results. Facebook periodically alters this algorithm to change the way posts are shared in the News Feed and, theoretically, improve user experience.

In this December blog post, Facebook stated that they tweaked their algorithm to surface more “relevant news” and “high quality content.” Although they didn’t advertise the fact, the immediate effect was a drastic decrease in organic (read: free) reach for business pages – up to 80 percent in fact!

One reason that Facebook would want to decrease organic reach for business is to encourage marketers to spend money on ads. In an article titled, “Facebook Admits Organic Reach Is Falling Short, Urges Marketers to Buy Ads,” a spokesperson is quoted as saying, “We’re getting to a place where because people are sharing more things, the best way to get your stuff seen is to pay for it.”

It’s an understandable decision that makes sense on paper. We agree that most Facebook users probably want to see more content from their friends than they do from businesses. And we realize that Facebook wants to keep users happy and make more money. But it’s still frustrating.

Real estate agent pages, when done well, are about community and local resources – not spammy ads. And now all the people who actually took the time to like your page because they want to hear from you will see less of what you post.