Then, they gave us away for free – at least for a while. Facebook opened up its platform to businesses and provided brands with direct access to their consumer and vice versa- making it an attractive place to do business. Then, once Facebook had brands hooked, they started to take things away and make us pay more.
It started with Edgerank- which penalized brands for non-engaging content. Then the newFeed redesign that first downplayed- then removed- sort by most recent to ensure that some posts would never see the light of day. They suppressed reach first to about 16%, but now it is closer to 2%. Now, they have flat out said- if you want to sell, you will have to buy ads. The freebies are gone, but we are hooked.
So what can marketers take away from this news? For one, that it is time to get real.
Facebook isn’t a free service. It hasn’t been for a while and brands will only continue to have to spend more and try harder to make the tool work for them. It is pay-to-play just like television ads or website hosting is. However, this doesn’t mean we should all abandon the service and move on to currently unmolested channels. Twitter and Pinterest are already playing with highlighting content that is relevant to consumers, which means they are downplaying content that they deem irrelevant. It’s only a matter of time before they adopt Facebook’s model.
Like all other sophisticated marketing tools – quality will be rewarded while inferior content will be muted. In order to survive this new organic reach massacre, brands will need to develop content of value to their consumers. By solving problems, answering questions and providing value in the vast majority of your content, your content will continue to reach your audience. The content that serves brands by asking people to buy, click, download, etc. will need to be promoted in order to have any significant impact.
- Develop a robust content marketing strategy that fits within Facebook’s new guidelines
- Identify what the consumer wants and post it regularly
- Post what you want sparingly and promote this content to encourage reach
- Convert consumers to other channels to increase reach
- Keep calm, and don’t give up on social media