It's called “the law of double peak” and understanding this trend will help you to leverage your opportunities more to recognize when these trends hit.
There are two and exist on every social network. First, there is an organic peak, then there is a paid peak; this progression seems to be inherent in any social networks growth.
Check out this thorough coverage of the topic straight from the horses mouth from the folks over at Buffer.
The two peaks of opportunity on any social network
The organic peak
When a social network is emerging and growing towards mainstream popularity, the key opportunity for brands tends to be organic reach (Facebook circa 2009, Instagram in 2015, Snapchat in 2016).
At this stage, individuals and brands who want to build an audience are usually focused on figuring out the platform (what do users want to see? which metrics matter?) and creating engaging, unique content that carries their brand message.
During the organic growth phase business KPIs often focus on building an audience, engagement, and amplification (shares, RTs, for example).
The paid peak
As a social network matures, organic reach and engagement will start to plateau and eventually begin to drop. The tactics that helped you build an audience will become increasingly less efficient and what you have now is a system that works a lot more like Google Adwords, or any other more established form of advertising, where reach is paid for.
The transition from organic to paid is an emotional one for marketers, and it takes some adjustment. Not everybody gets to find you organically anymore, and the tactics you’ve honed to increase organic reach are no longer as successful. But when you take a step back, there’s also an enormous opportunity to drive even greater value for your business through paid channels.
As networks transition towards the paid peak, business KPIs tend to become far more focused on driving clicks, conversions, downloads, and sales.
Here’s the law of the double-peak in action:
Facebook: From Organic to Paid
From around 2009 to 2012, Facebook was the place to build an audience organically. With an understanding of what content people were craving and engaging with on Facebook; some creative ideas and brilliant execution you could build a substantial audience without directly paying for it.
That’s not to say it was easy to build an audience organically between 2009 to 2012, but it was certainly doable, and a large number of brands had a ton of success with brilliant, creative content (and tiny advertising budgets).
Between 2011 and 2012, Facebook hit the organic peak. And starting around April 2012, Facebook’s organic reach begun to plateau at around 16% as the social network began to edge brands into sponsoring posts to increase reach.
From 2012 to 2014, as Facebook matured as a business, organic reach plummeted so much so that in 2014 organic reach had dropped to around 6% for all pages and for large pages with more than 500,000 likes, the number was just 2%.
The below graph from Social@Ogilvy’s “Facebook Zero: Considering Life After the Demise of Organic Reach,” highlights this demise:
When reach hit as low as 2% in February 2014, Facebook had all but become a pay-to-play advertising platform and the below chart from Business Insider shows the rise of Facebook’s desktop and mobile advertising revenue:
Now, in 2016, there are still tremendous opportunity to market your business on Facebook, but it’s shifted from organic to paid, and those who have been maximizing the value of Facebook dark posts and the social network’s other advertising products over the past year-or-so have seen significant results.
As you can tell, Facebook is currently in what Buffer consider to be it's ‘mature stage' as it edges it's organic reach lower and lower. If you want to read more on the topic, Buffer continues to break down how each stage can help effect your growth. Check it out here –> Buffer.com/double-peak
See you soon fellow marketer
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