What’s the Problem?

We’ve spoken, repeatedly, about the fact that organic reach on Facebook has now dropped to near zero.

Why?

Because Facebook became incredibly successful, filed for an IPO and now has to make money for their shareholders. No one blames Facebook for wanting to make money (or at least we grumble and accept that that’s what they’re doing) but we do feel a little hard done by trying to convince our clients and employers that along with paying for our salaries they’ve got to spend money on promoting posts and ads and everything else just to get their content seen.

Many clients refuse to accept this new world of payment first, eyeballs second….and who can blame them? Social media is so new that it was only a few months ago that they could point at their insights and say: “look…our content is reaching 30% or 40% of our audience and we didn’t have to do a damn thing”. Now they’ll be lucky to reach 5%….soon they won’t even reach 2%. 

So what does this mean for us? Where do we, the marketers, stand in this ever changing world?

Well we can’t abandon ship. Much as we would all like to pull an Eat24 it’s just not possible for us to say no to Facebook. We have to be where our customers are. Yes, it’s true that more customers are heading to nice networks like Instagram (owned by Facebook) or Twitter or SnapChat but considering that Facebook has a billion daily active users there’s just no way that we can forget that big blue exists.

What To Do With Facebook?

Our job is simply to do the best that we can with the tools that we have. One of those jobs is reeducating our clients. No longer is Facebook a ‘free ride’ and we need to amplify that fact. But how?

Compare it to what they’re used to: televisions and newspapers.

It’s never been free to play an ad on television and it’s always been expensive depending on your target market. If you want to advertise in a local newspaper then there’s a cost right there. If you want to advertise in a national newspaper then your advertising bill will triple at least. Why? Because your readership has rapidly expanded. It’s the same with Facebook….but not.

Facebook forces you to pay for your content to be seen much as you would pay for your ad to be seen on television. This is a fairly simple concept for people to grasp. The difference is that social media is as much about interaction than it is about selling. That is  you need to have a constant level of contact with your customers just to remain relevant. If your posts aren’t being seen in your customer’s newsfeeds (the place where they spend 80%-90% of their time on Facebook) then your brand quickly loses its relevance. So this is where Facebook becomes less like a TV ad and more like a never ending well for your advertising budget. You need to pay money for your brand to promote itself on Facebook just for your content to be seen. This is what’s truly unique about the Facebook strategy: we pay money to Facebook to display ads but at the same time we pay money to Facebook to display content. They’re also getting away with it. Why? Because they can!

No Option But To Pay The Piper

This is what we keep coming back to: you’ve just got to grit your teeth and smile as Mark Zuckerberg dips his hand into your wallet. The ever changing newsfeed algorithm means that they can do what they want. No one blames Facebook for wanting to promote a friend’s baby picture over your post about what weapon you would use to kill zombies. After all if people went onto Facebook and simply saw ads then they wouldn’t come back to Facebook. It’s a strange relationship: we need Facebook’s users to see our content, Facebook needs its users to stay on Facebook and to do that they need to not display our content. With more than 1500 pieces of content available to users at any one time it’s no wonder that Facebook had decided to go down the route of displaying a friend’s post over yours. It can charge us to display our content and at the same time sit back and say, with a certain amount of truth, “them’s the breaks guys…this is the new economy”.

Yes. It is. And this is the new advertising economy. It’s like television….only….not.