So, here’s what we know.
Facebook is now acting like the biggest, baddest kid in the playground and has been kicking up dirt for the past year or so. With the introduction of promoted posts for users and a change to its Edge Rank algorithm — the sequence in which users are appropriated posts in their own news feeds — the likelihood of catching your best friend’s status, announcing his engagement to his high school sweetheart as well as seeing the latest update from your favourite clothing brand is now less likely to happen organically.
I say organically because the change to Edge Rank has now made this even more difficult for brands to reach their fans — and when I say reach I mean EOC or “Eyes on Creative”. While Facebook has denied that page reach has decreased overall, the debate still rages on, and in some cases, brands have reported experiencing a decrease in reach up to 40%.
With a decrease in reach comes a decrease in engagement, which has its own set of problems for any brand measuring aspects such as activity and fan actions. Metrics like this are the current staple for Facebook managers unless you have an iFramed Store selling your product through Facebook’s API, but even then, the messaging associated to a brand’s latest discount of featured products is still going to struggle to reach the brand’s original consumer base.
This move from Facebook is directly related to its broken business model. It’s now a publicly traded company and with that comes the responsibility of showing earnings for shareholders and the public alike. Its lack of focus on mobile means it’s had to throw its toys in the web arena and it’s now starting to take effect.
There’s no doubt in my mind that Facebook will turn a revenue double that of the US$2-billion it turned last year, possibly even more. Facebook’s move to cultivate additional expenditure from brands (and even users) to ensure its messaging is getting to its intended targets as well as fulfilling its marketing metrics is akin to the big-bad kid in the playground sitting on your face while you do your best to get the teacher’s attention. Shouting as loud as you can is simply no longer working.
Brands have to realise the effect of what’s currently happening and then motivate for larger spends on Facebook, always-on strategies and identifying key-messaging in their content that should be promoted with the use of Facebook Media, possibly ignoring the poor performing ASU Adverts and focusing on web news feed and mobile news feed media placement.
What does it mean for the industry? The same as always. Marketing agencies need to motivate for bigger spend. Brands need to show the due diligence and motivate internally to keep the money flowing. Easy, right? Wrong. It’s never that easy and a lot of brands are going to suffer because of it. It’s mainly the small guys, the niche businesses, specifically those brands with fan pages hosting less than 5000 fans that are going to feel the brunt of the bully’s backside. If you don’t like it, change schools.
What does this mean for you and me? Well, nothing really. If you have 50 friends on Facebook and like four or five fan pages, the likelihood of seeing most of your friend’s updates as well as the brands you happen to be a fan of are high, like really high. But 200 and above friends and 50 fan pages later, would you ever be able to ever keep up?
That’s where my gripe is. If you have over 200 friends on Facebook, are you really that committed to reading everyone’s status? Really? Impressive. If you are, I implore your commitment to mediocrity and time-wasting, I really do. You should be a professional Facebooker-person.
So, where’s the cure? Well, there isn’t one. For small brands, understand that your fan page is small enough to be doing a little more personalisation than the big guys in terms of how you’re contacting your fans/customers — use the fan page for creatively speaking to them and then nurture your fans and their commitment to buying your product through a different means — drive them to email, introduce a Google+ Hang Out session to speak to you or the CEO, connect, connect, connect. No one said Facebook was going to play nice forever.
For bigger brands, start carrying change with you and steal a candy bar from the pantry before going to school — “bargain” with the bully. In other words, spend the money, but spend it wisely. If you think that Facebook isn’t the place for you to nurture the relationships you need with your customers, then choose the content that drives them to another channel and promote it.
Yes, spend the money. In return, they’ll sign up to your Google+ account or follow you on Twitter or whatever. Simply being smarter with how you choose to spend the money can mean the difference between playing on the swings in peace and being pounded into the dirt.
It’s not all doom and gloom, unless you left your cupcakes at home or have lice.