Time changes things. I can still remember the time when you could only get on Facebook with a verified school email. I can also remember when Mikey liked Kix. I think that means I am just getting older, but I don’t recall aging; at least I am certain I haven’t matured yet. Facebook is certainly not what Jesse Eisenberg’s character originally intended it to be, as the social network took on a life of its own and caught fire in a way no one could have imagined. It has changed the way people interact with brands, the way people communicate with each other and the way people access the outside world. At one time, Nepal was the geographically furthest location from Omaha, NE. Now, it is just a click away. Social media has redefined human interaction. This may or may not have an impact on business.
Anyone who knows me is aware of my cautiously curious attitude towards social media marketing. I have publicly asked the question before of whether or not social media is for the birds, and am really starting to wonder how much longer this flight will last. Not that social media in general has a foreseeable shelf life, but the rush to market businesses in them is changing. Since the beginning of corporate activity in Facebook, brands have tirelessly searched for their place in the news feed and the resulting cash in their bank accounts. This may or may not be proven effective.
Facebook’s Search Marketing History
For years, the adage “Everyone’s on Facebook!” has been a rallying cry for social media marketers as they push brands towards the social media giant. With Facebook acting as the catch-all of social interest and its algorithm to target users with specific keyword interests; it has historically been the way to “mass-market” your brand, but only to interested people. Once you had fans liking your page, all you had to do was create clever and engaging content. While the activity of creating quality content takes time, this was a boon to marketers because they could develop customer engagement and brand loyalty through a series of online posts; not just by the forking out of dollars. This was a very good idea.
Over the last few months, however, Facebook has drastically changed the way that marketers are able to advertise and interact with their audiences. The ability for one post to be seen by a page’s fan base has drastically reduced. Recently, “the social media marketing company Ignite analyzed 689 posts from 21 different brand pages and discovered that in just one week, the number of people who saw posts declined by 44 percent on average”. That means that your brand’s page is now only reaching an average of 3% (it used to be 16%) of your total fan base with organic posts. In Facebook’s defense, there are reasons for that: 1) you may post something at 4pm EST, but with international fans in bed by then with the time difference it won’t be there by the time the get up in the morning; 2) of those people that were awake then, they may have still been at work, watching TV, or getting back from their lunch break; or 3) some of those online at the right time are still be fought for by other brands they like. Despite those explanations, this is not good news for Facebook marketers.
Facebook Wants More Money from its Advertisers | At their Expense
Facebook, why do this to your paying advertisers? Granted, not all business pages use paid advertisements, but why change something that is working for all parties? “In the document, titled ‘Generating business results on Facebook,’ the paragraph in which the impending drop-off in organic reach is revealed concludes with an ad pitch; marketers are told they should consider paid distribution ‘to maximize delivery of your message in news feed.’” Surprise, social media marketers, it all comes down to money! Though Facebook has continually said through its public channels that this algorithm change is all about putting the most appropriate content at the top of users’ news feeds, it is ultimately about taking care of their shareholders and pushing more pages to use paid ads. This, apparently, is a great idea to Facebook stockholders.
Basically, now it comes down to this: if you want significant exposure on news feeds in Facebook, you will have to pay for the placement as well as the creative development. Is it worth it?
In the graph shown, Facebook is last on the preference list of a satisfied customer. While the article goes on to show that this is a small sample size, Atilus’ experience as a search marketing management company fits the graph. “We have seen our clients increase Google AdWords investments with a positive effect on their revenue stream. Facebook ads, on the other hand have become an increasingly harder sell, because, with client after client, the return on investment (ROI) just wasn’t there,” says Kristen Bachmeier, a Marketing Specialist with Atilus. “Atilus is redirecting its clients to other advertising sources, steering companies away from the social media giant and to smaller social networks such as Houzz (for remodeling and construction) and Google+ for its search engine optimization (SEO) value.” This has proven to be a good idea for Atilus’ clients.
Other Social Networks are Worth Your Time
In the world of marketing, most businesses end up finding what works through the ever popular trial and error method. While to a certain degree that is unavoidable, our hope is that Atilus’ experience may provide you with a shorter timeline to online profitability. While there may be some situations that Facebook is still a strong, viable option for businesses, we are working with our clients to find more direct lines to revenue and still highly recommend Google AdWords to all our clients for that very reason. After that, there are many targeted social networks out there and they are all growing. We are positive that there is a good idea in the social media world for your businesses; it just may take a bit of work to find the perfect match.