After years of pushing brands’ reach lower with one hand (and opening marketers’ wallets with the other) Facebook has finally announced the end of organic social marketing on its site.

In a Friday night blog post the social giant warned brands that “Beginning in January 2015, people will see less of this type of content [promotional page posts] in their News Feeds,” and admitted that brands that post promotional content “will see a significant decrease in distribution.”

It’s not as if marketers could count on much organic reach or engagement anyway. Ogilvy reported that in February 2014 large brands’ Facebook posts reached just 2% of their fans (a number that was falling by .5% per month). And earlier this year a Forrester study showed that on average, only .07% of top brands’ Facebook fans interact with each of their posts. But Facebook’s latest announcement will certainly make matters worse.

What should marketers do now? Today we published a report called “Social Relationship Strategies That Work” that details several options. Two of the most important things brands can do are:

  • Add social relationship tools to your own site. Our 2015 social predictions emphasize the renewed importance of branded communities, and for good reason. A recent Forrester survey shows that US online adults who want to stay in touch with your brand are almost three times as likely to visit your site as to engage you on Facebook. Most companies still don’t offer branded communities — but smart marketers are already finding success building social relationship tools into their own sites. Sony Playstation got 4.5 million visits to its social microsite; people stayed for 4 minutes per visit, and this effort helped Playstation outsell Xbox by a huge margin. B2B marketers like Analog Devices and Tyler Technologies successfully focus their social efforts on branded communities as well.
  • Stop making Facebook the center of your relationship marketing efforts. That same survey shows that US online adults who want to stay in touch with your brand are almost twice as likely to sign up for your emails as to interact with you on Facebook. Plus your emails get delivered more than 90% of the time, while your Facebook posts get delivered 2% of the time — and no one’s looking over your should telling you what you can and can’t say in your emails. If you have to choose between adding a subscriber to you email list or gaining a new Facebook fan, go for email every time.

For much more data, examples and recommendations on how to build effective social programs in light of Facebook’s changes, Forrester clients can read our new report “Social Relationship Strategies That Work.”