Facebook Advertising: Pay to Play or Posts are Ghosts

Facebook lured companies in to their platform with the promise of FREE interactions with fans and consumers. People were making $100,000 a year with their businesses on Facebook through social selling. One could argue that Facebook had a hand in helping create small businesses.

Then, like most companies, they had to figure out a way to monetize beyond simple banner ads on the side of your page. This came as no shock, and their solution was even welcomed at first! There was a large reach for organic posts still and paid posts gave you a great bang for your buck when it came to reaching new users. People that liked your page could see every update, sale, new item & event. Facebook knows their value though now thanks to that hefty IPO and they are going to make sure you aren’t reaching people when you want unless you are paying.

At the beginning of January 2015, Facebook started to heavily control the volume of promotional posts that users see from brands. Any posts that push people to buy a product, download an app, or promote an event are now penalized and the reach is diminished. Essentially, Facebook is saying that brands need to pay if they want to publish content in the form of ads. This is being seen as the final nail in the coffin of organic (i.e. unpaid) distribution.

Facebook has said that somewhere between 1,500 and 15,000 potential stories appear each time someone logs on. News feed filters and controls are in place to show people the content ‘that is most relevant to them’ at the moment. If you’ve ‘liked’ something, you’ll see more from that person or page, then a few ads from similar pages and topics. Facebook’s mission is to show people the things they want to see. People aren’t using Facebook for the ads; they’re there for the stories (and some light stalking of ex-lovers of course).

What you need to remember though is that paying for reach on any platform has never been a substitute for good content.

While marketing budgets may need to be increased or moved around, marketers should remember it’s the experience and content that followers and users seek. The end of organic reach doesn’t impact that at all. We need to be striving for an actually social experience – creating dialogues and narratives. If you’re not engaging with the customers, followers and users, why bother being on social media? Facebook advertising is only as good as your content.

Paid media will perform the role of driving targeted discovery to maximize the opportunity for a social response, which will come in the form of likes, comments, and most importantly, shares. If you are looking for better returns from social marketing investments, then the answer is creating better social content. Once the content is there, Facebook advertising can do wonders for your business.

The landscape may have changed yet again, but the fundamental marketing challenge presented by social media remains the same.