Facebook is now offering brands and marketers the opportunity to pay to get their posts seen more through something called “promoted posts.” You pay a few bucks and ensure that your latest update will get seen by more of your audience.
I knew it was coming — I was in a test group that played around with this new functionality and at the time, I thought nothing of it. Social media is a huge battle for attention, and any little thing that could give you an edge is a nice bonus right?
Wrong, according to the uproar that caught me very much by surprise when Facebook rolled out the new feature a few weeks ago. “Now your fans only see a fraction of your updates,” I was told. (Never mind the fact that this has always been the case). “Facebook is making you pay for the fan engagement you are entitled to,” seemed to be the undercurrent of a lot of the dismay I saw in the blogosphere.
Every time Facebook makes a change, people get really upset. Brand marketers invested lots of time and energy developing incredible “custom landing pages” and then Facebook switch to timeline and those pages went away (and so did brand engagement overall, it seems). I am so used to it I can’t get upset. Really.
Them’s the breaks. If you are building engagement on someone else’s free platform, it is their prerogative to change the rules whenever they want. But the dismay around promoted posts unveiled a huge amount of misconceptions that people have about Facebook marketing, so I thought I’d look at a few of them.
Before the change, your fans were seeing ALL of your updates.
Of course this is not true. Facebook has a mysterious algorithm called “Edgerank” that has always done shifty things like devalue posts that come in through third party applications like HooteSuite and make more prominent certain updates. We don’t know the formula. We just know that your fans were NOT seeing all of your updates.
Concentrating efforts on Facebook marketing yields a high return
For a long time marketers spent a lot of time on Facebook marketing and watched their “likes” go through the roof. This became an awesome metric to report to the boss. But one of the very clever things Facebook has always done is made the “like” button the lowest bar to entry possible.
What does that mean for you, the marketer? “Likes” are not actually worth a whole heck of a lot. If you are actually selling a product and trying to get conversions out of your giant pool of fans, you will quickly see how truly valueless “likes” are in terms of actual revenue.
The new system is unfair to nonprofits and small businesses
If you are seriously in the business of either 1) making money on the web, or 2) getting donations, you are using email first and foremost. Pepsi and Frito Lay may have more dough to dominate the promoted posts game, but you as a small business or nonprofit have something they cannot purchase, the real wealth in the age of social media — an engaging story, an authenticity. And you have a whole range of options to get that story out there. Facebook is just one. Further, you have more ability to be fleet-footed and adaptable. So when Facebook makes a major change, adapt!
I’m sick of all these changes — it’s time to pack up my marbles and go home
I saw a small business brand up and leave for Tumblr — and I just have to say this the epitome of shooting yourself in the foot. Whatever changes Facebook has made, it’s still got the user base that no one else can compete with. Switching to Tumblr isn’t going to magically resurrect a large fan community.
Fan affinity is something you “own” forever and ever
A huge pet peeve of mine (and I am admittedly a curmudgeon) is when I am messaged by marketers who want me to do extra work for the privilege of them selling me something. I hate seeing “add us to your address book so that we don’t end up in your spam folder,” or the newly popular instructions floating around on Facebook on how you can “make sure” you get all of their updates.
Marketers: it is your job to work overtime to get me opening your emails and seeking out your Facebook page. The attention of your fans is always, always a privilege, never something you are entitled to. If situations like this have an upside it’s that they teach you to roll with the punches and keep the engagement high. Never take your fans for granted — and always be ready to pivot.