Adapt or Perish – Facebook Marketing Reality

When planning Facebook marketing it’s crucial to have realistic expectations given the current state of the “pay to play” environment.

There have been a lot of changes since 2007 when “Fan Pages” were first rolled out. At the time it was amazing to think that any organization could directly engage with their audience in a meaningful way by posting on Facebook.

Back in the “good old days” you knew that whatever you posted on your page was also put on your followers’ news feed for them to see and react to. 

However, as your followers followed even more Fan Pages your message very quickly moved off to the bottom of the timeline.  

As a knee-jerk reaction to this marketers started posting several times a day, the same message over and over again, like a screaming kid trying to get attention.

Everyone became a victim of Facebook’s success. There simply were too many brands and marketers putting out posts trying to reach an audience with numerous options and interests.  

Consumers suffered through waves of repeated content from brands they “liked” filling their news feed, marketers lost the market share that they had worked very hard to build.

The Best Things In Life Are Free

picture of person holding money in hand
In 2012 things dramatically shifted when Facebook took the bold move to limit a Page’s “organic reach” to somewhere around 16%.  Of course, you could pay $$ and Facebook would help you reach more people.  That was really nice of them, right?  😉

Honestly, it really should have surprised no one that Facebook wanted to behave like a commercial media outlet. They had built an enormous audience, one that consumers and marketers flocked to.  You can’t blame them for choosing to maximize their profit.  After all, that’s what for-profit companies are supposed to do.

The decline in organic reach continued steadily as Facebook fine-tuned their algorithm’s and pushed the boundaries to see just how far they could go.

By 2014 online marketing researchers determined that a Facebook Fan Page’s organic reach had dropped to less than 7% of their audience. 

In late 2016 Facebook decided to push the envelope even further.  There is chatter in the online marketing world saying that organic reach is now less than 4%.

How Low Can You Go

a picture of a seemingly endless staircase going down
Recently, Facebook has said that they want to further prioritize content from friends and family over content from Pages. This seems like a good thing on the surface and certainly something that any individual would rejoice in.  As a consumer I want fewer advertisements popping up in my news feed, I want more interaction with real people.

But, a brand that wants to gain new market share and engage with and build an audience on Facebook you now have to work a bit harder and think a lot smarter about the resources you are going to commit to this particular social network.

Spoiler Alert:  At Market Street we don’t believe you have to hand over your checkbook to Facebook just to get the word out.

However, you do have to produce content that real people want to view.  You also have to behave like a real person.  Specifically, you need behave like a really “likable” person.  Believe it or not, this can be challenging for some marketers.  🙂

The key to all of this is engaging with your audience.  You have to actually get them into a conversation and educate them about what you do and how it can make a difference in their lives.  Ultimately, your goal is to make them like you so much that they want to promote you without being asked.  

BTW:  You knew that directly asking for likes and shares can actually do more damage that good, right?

Your job is to try to make real people do a really simple thing.  You want them to share and talk about you with their friends.  Yup, it’s a social network.

Make friends and provide value, rinse and repeat.  Do this so well that it encourages your audience to want to share your content.

When you think about this, TV studios, radio stations, newspapers and magazines have been doing this forever.  The method of delivery has changed, not the strategy.  You have to focus on the fact that we are still trying to engage with real people.

Food For Thought – A Future Article

If you can muster up the courage to do it, you really need to jump on board the video bandwagon.  And, for the really brave, live video is what is currently getting the most Facebook sharing and organic reach. But, perhaps that’s a subject for another article…

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Author:  Scott Cannon

Helping NPOs & businesses for over 30 years as a technology consultant. I now focus on helping people use their website and social media more efficiently and effectively.

I've been told that I'm friendly, helpful and honest to a fault. I wouldn't believe it if I hadn't heard it myself.   :-)

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