The Problem, Err Challenge, with Facebook Marketing

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For businesses and marketers, Facebook has been quite the challenging platform in recent months. In what is being called a “Reachpocalypse,” Facebook Pages have undergone a very obvious drop in organic reach since last fall, which has resulted in many panicked marketers.

As we have said before, Facebook has admitted to putting less emphasis on organic page posts in its News Feed. In a document entitled “Generating Business Results on Facebook,” the social networking giant cleverly highlights its advertising opportunities saying:

We expect organic distribution of an individual Page’s posts to gradually decline over time as we continually work to make sure people have a meaningful experience on the site… But to maximize delivery of your message in News Feed, your brand should consider using paid distribution, as it enables you to reach people beyond your fan base and move beyond the organic competition.

Small to large businesses are feeling the impact of Facebook’s recent actions. In fact, Facebook has actually made multiple tweaks to its algorithm over the past several months that resulted in auto-playing videos (ads too), larger photos, resurfaced content, and more branded content. All these changes were part of an effort to improve the quality of content in the News Feed.

As a result, Facebook also started showing fewer meme posts/photos and posts that had spammy links. Facebook also has cracked down on “Like-baiting.” For instance, if you ask users to “Like” or “comment,” Facebook considers this gaming its system.

If you’ve been in the Internet marketing space for very long, these actions will sound somewhat familiar. The reason is because Facebook’s changes are similar to Google’s changes to its algorithm. While the end result is better for individual users, it makes the job of marketing harder.

Changes like these are unpleasant, put lightly, especially for small businesses. What marketers are quickly finding out is how there really is no deciphering social networks. These platforms are still young and are going to be susceptible to change. Beyond this, Facebook, and some of the other social networks, are now public companies. Naturally, they have stepped up their efforts to ensure their profitability since they now answer to Wall Street.

Jay Baer over on Convince and Convert minces no words when it comes to this issue, saying:

Fundamentally, Facebook cares about THEIR business, not about YOUR business.

Social@Ogilvy also created a really interesting chart showing the correlation between organic reach dropping and Facebook’s stock price rising:

Facebook Chart

So, what’s a marketer to do? Facebook has 1.26 billion users – it’s hard to ignore. There are some ways to approach this issue that will help your brand in the long run.

Accept the problem

For starters, businesses must come to terms with what is happening. As much as we would all like things to be different, Facebook is not going to revert backward. Furthermore, even if we could go back, more and more brands are embracing the platform everyday vying for the same attention that we are. The value of social media is starting to be realized, which means that competition will only get tighter. We can complain about these changes all we want and call Facebook out, but in the end, we have to learn to deal with it.

Meet the challenge

If marketing were easy, we would all be bored. Marketing is known for being fast-paced, energetic and for having lots of unknowns. With this understanding, Facebook’s changes are really par for the course. But, there are some tips and tricks that can help you attack the challenge:

There’s more to social media than just Facebook. Because of Facebook’s size, many businesses have made this their central base. However, we never recommend this practice. Facebook can provide tremendous value, but it’s an outside platform. Some small businesses view Facebook as their website, but it’s cases like this that reinforce why this isn’t practical. It is possible that Facebook could go away. If this happens, all your work and effort into your page could be lost. At SugarSpun, we encourage people to have a home base on their website, such as their blog. This way, you’re dependent upon your own resources and not a third party.

Secondly, content still rules. Facebook is looking for the very best content, so provide it. Step up your game in producing original and relevant content that really stands out from the other noise. Utilize various forms of media such as images, videos, and infographics to make it compelling and unique. Also, re-think your basic marketing strategies such as timing, demographics, etc. because it does make a difference in performance.

Thirdly, invest some ad spend into Facebook. If Facebook truly provides value for your business, then there will be a budget for the platform. Fortunately, Facebook’s ad program is not too costly. If a brand is smart and selective, it can analyze both before and after a promotion to ensure effectiveness. And if its target audience is there, it will have a direct link to them with actionable data to back it up.

Facebook, like it or not, will continue to change. It’s inevitable. To continue to be successful on the platform, you must expect change and meet the challenges head on when they come. The roller coaster is taking off and you can either put your seatbelt on and enjoy the ride regardless of how bumpy it gets, or you can sit on the bench and miss out. It’s your choice.

 

Abby Johnson

Abby brings a unique perspective to the mix because her background consists of both traditional broadcast and public relations to now the world of online. She is very skilled at looking at the big picture and understanding how to get the message across to a particular audience.

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