POV: Facebook’s Gonna Make Your Business Pay, Because They Can

POV: Facebook’s Gonna Make Your Business Pay, Because They Can

Do you advertise your “brand” or company on Facebook? Have you got a Facebook business page? If so, the landscape has changed a little. I say a little, because FB has been more of an advertising platform than a social media network for a long time. We still think it’s a social network, but we’re like the poor frog in the slowly heating pot, we’re being boiled down, packaged, and sold as consumers not as people.

The other day I was responding to a client who had legitimate concerns about this post from the NYTimes:  Facebook Will Curtail Unpaid Ads by Brands.

I wrote up what I called a micro-POV. (Ad-speak for Point-of-View.)

Brands are going to have to play more like people. We have to make sure the tone of our posts is not all marketing and advertising. The casual post, the fun post, the conversational post will still do well on Facebook. Of course, any great post will need to be paid to reach maximum exposure, and that’s what Facebook is counting on. They are simply reducing the FREE ads that brands are used to littering FB news feeds with.

We’ve got to practice good brand behavior on Facebook and when we have an AD or a Contest to promote, we’re going to have to pay for it.

In reality the changes aren’t really that different from what Facebook has done in it’s effort to return shareholder value: or profit. Today, if you have a perfect post on your Facebook business page you might reach 5% of your audience. That’s 5% of the people who asked to see your updates. Not a great number. And Facebook has now said, if your post is too sales-like (re: competing with their actual “sales” ads) then they will clamp down on your free views even more. Really? What, now a “Our new giveaway starts Jan. 1” posts are going to get ZERO organic reach now? If you’ve done any time trying to understand and play the Facebook advertising game, you already know you’re going to PAY for any significant reach on your post. That’s the plan. That’s Zuck’s plan.

So what they did in November was tell us advertisers, “You’re going to pay for any reach at all.” Or to be more accurate, they said “January 2015, you’re going to pay more for reach, period.”

Rebecca Lieb, a digital advertising and media analyst at the Altimeter Group, said, “It’s a clear message to brands: If you want to sound like an advertiser, buy an ad.”

Well, it’s not a new frontier, just a more expensive one. Where my client’s “posts” regardless of what we said in them would reach approximately 3% – 10% of their audience, depending on shares, likes, and comments, they are now going to get 0% if they mention a “contest” or use the word “buy” or “sale” in the copy of their post. Great. Simple.

Pretend that you’re a person on Facebook, even if you’re a brand. People like casual, chatty, posts from brands too. Too much promotional sales speak and they get turned off. So now Facebook is just helping us out. Want to be a proper social citizen, we’ll share your post with 5% of your audience. Want to promote anything, pay up or we’re going to hide your post from your audience all together. Sucks, but they are the guardians of the FB galaxy.

POV: Behave as casually on Facebook as you can. Think of your brand in terms of your personas and then post as if you’re a “friend” rather than a business. That’s been the plan with Facebook for a while now. Then if you have something you really need to promote on Facebook, PAY. You’ve already been paying for any meaningful reach. In other words, business as usual, you’re just going to have to pay for that first 5% of reach too.

John McElhenney
@jmacofearth (also seen on Google+: jmacofearth)

Reference: Facebook Will Curtail Unpaid Ads by Brands – NY Times

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