Attention, social media marketers. Are you ready to pay the pipers? The free lunch is over. And if you’re still hungry, better grab your checkbook.
On January 1, Facebook began pulling the plates away from millions of those who use its platform to promote their goods and services. The social network started restricting posts that:
- push people to buy a product or install an app
- push people to enter promotions and sweepstakes with no real context
- reuse the same content from ads
Facebook’s explanation? Surveys reveal its users are miffed about having their newsfeeds glutted with promotional messages.
Though it hasn’t overtly said it, Facebook’s response sends a sobering message to marketers. If you want to promote your business or product on Facebook, better buy a Facebook ad.
Some see this crackdown as more of a shakedown. Many businesses have grown their brand and profits through organic promotions on Facebook. Where do they go now?
The options aren’t promising.
Twitter CEO Dick Costello has left the door open for a Facebook-like move. Last year Pinterest offered key businesses ads in the form of “promoted pins” and could widen that offer anytime. And since Facebook owns Instagram, a promotion-limiting algorithm seems likely for that platform.
Social media converting to paid media? Is this the end of the world as we know it? What are social media marketers, especially those with limited budgets, supposed to do?
Well, nothing. Social media experts say we should welcome the transition. It will benefit us all.
“Let’s face it,” offers Pagemodo general manager Alfredo Ramos, “you don’t come to Facebook to be marketed to all the time; you come to learn about cool things that are happening in your world. In response, small businesses will need to be more strategic about how they engage with their fans on Facebook.”
“Marketers are mistaken if they interpret this as bad news for their organic strategies,” says content marketing agency Brafton. “Actually, it just reinforces what marketers should be doing anyways: creating interesting and engaging content. Overly salesy social content rarely works, and social media marketing is about getting engagement and clicks by offering something people actually want.”
Aaron Lee at Post Planner says the key driving force behind the move to paid media is the glut of social media users. Consequently, he anticipates organic reach to decline as content volume on these networks continues.
“To make up for the decrease in organic reach and to get
content across, businesses will need to pay to play or watch
their content wash away. Soon the idea of free attention
will vanish and paid media will be the norm. I believe this is
a natural progression, since there are only a number of things
we can see at any single time.”
Lee admits most people will find this turn of events troublesome. However, he’s optimistic that “if paid media continues to evolve, we might just get good actual content.”
SocialMouths founder Francisco Rosales agrees. He says marketers can no longer depend on organic reach to make a meaningful impact, and paid media generates more conversions than organic media.
“We’re past the like-collecting days and more businesses
are understanding the need for a well-designed structure that
delivers different types of content to segmented groups of
their audiences at the right moment in the marketing cycle.
The best way to control the potential reach and manage the
segmentation is through paid media.”
Rosales recommends marketers learn more about audience members and how to segment prospects. “Plus, establish who needs to see what and when, and determine how you’re going to deliver each specific message.”
Neil Patel, co-founder of KISSmetrics and Crazy Egg anticipates most social networks going the way of networks going the way of Facebook’s model, filtering for a price what posts your friends or followers see. His advice?
“If you want all of your content to be seen without having to spend any money, share high-quality content or updates on a regular basis. Also make sure the majority of your followers are interacting with your content. For example, if you don’t know half of your friends on Facebook, you can’t expect them to be as engaged as your real friends would be. For this reason, you may be better off unfriending those users. Having interested followers will produce higher engagement rates, which will prompt the social network to show your content to more people.
So how about you? How do Facebook’s new restrictions affect your marketing efforts? Do you anticipate other social media platform’s making you pay the pipers? Let me know.