Facebook advertising and sponsored posts aren't perfect, but they are the beginning of more accountability and a focus on what really matters: great content.
Over the past two years, Facebook has steadily been decreasing the organic views that pages generate from their posts. Some pages report reaching as little as 1 percent of their fans organically.
Facebook has come out and said that organic reach will continue to decline in support of sponsored posts.
Many businesses and social media marketers have been frustrated by this. They spent so much time focusing on driving engagements ("Like this post if you like Fridays, too!") and working the algorithm of edgerank (posts with pictures get more views) with the goal of earning the attention of their fans with great content. Now, Facebook says that doesn't matter so much anymore. If you are a business, you should expect to pay to play.
Here is why this change is actually good for Facebook marketing:
1. The engagement baiting posts are getting annoying. I personally was getting sick of lame attempts to get me to like an asinine statement or comment on every annoying post.
2. Many businesses were focused on the game, and not on actually creating great content that their fans cared about. Social media marketers love talking about tricks to drive up views, like posting photos to get more reach, or timing your posts to drive more views. The reality is, though, that gaming the system doesn't lead to real success. The best posts for your customers and business objectives aren't always photos, but we have this need to optimize for the system. By taking away the gaming of edgerank, businesses can focus on what matters: creating great posts that build their brand and are valuable to their audience. As a social media trainer, I spent more time answering questions about how to master edgerank than how to create content that people really like.
Pay-to-play means less focus on gaming organic views, which can give marketers more time to focus on the actual content of the post.
3. If it isn't worth paying for, it isn't worth posting. This is the big one in my opinion. Facebook has a VERY reasonable CPM rate for sponsored posts. If it isn't worth you paying for people to see it, is it even worth posting? The requirement of paying for reach should make businesses more deliberate in the content that they post and pay to promote. For users, this should mean less boring crap, and more high-quality relevant posts.
Imagine if it was free to advertise on television. Every idiot with a camera would create a stupid commercial. Most of them would be neither entertaining to the viewer, nor effective in reaching a business objective. Since the cost to create and air a television commercial is so high, most businesses spend time on the strategy, creative, and placement of their commercials. I think that social media content will improve if most businesses spend more time thinking about the strategy, creative, and execution of their social media posts.
Pay-to-play helps to create higher quality content.
4. Did you really think that Facebook would be free forever? All social networks need to make money. Facebook is the first that has openly made it more difficult for businesses to connect with people as a way to push businesses into advertising. Other social networks will follow this trend to varying degrees over time, because they all have to make money from advertising.
Sure, Facebook advertising and sponsored posts aren't perfect, but they aren't the end of Facebook marketing. They are the beginning of more accountability and a focus on what really matters: great content that meets business objectives and that people love.
Krista Neher is the author of the bestselling Social Media Field Guide, an international speaker, and currently CEO of Boot Camp Digital, which is a leading provider of social media marketing training and consulting solutions. Krista is a social media pioneer, creating one of the first successful corporate Twitter strategies and corporate blogs - long before "social media" was even a recognized term. After spending nearly six years at Procter and Gamble working on some of the biggest and most successful product launches, Krista went on to become the vice president of marketing at an Internet start-up.
Krista started Boot Camp Digital in 2008 and has created training programs for hundreds of advertising agencies, marketing departments and small and medium business owners in social media marketing. Krista also works with a variety of educational institutions on their social media programs and is currently working on a textbook on social media marketing.
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