Future of marketing on Facebook: Pay to Play

It all started with the analysis done by Social@Ogilvy in Feb ’14 of more than 100 brand pages. What they found out was that for all Facebook pages, the organic reach hovered at 6%, a decline of 49% from peak levels in Oct ’13. For large pages with more than 500,000 fans, organic reach has further declined to 2% only. Even the report stated that many Facebook sources were unofficially advising community managers to expect it to approach zero in the foreseeable future. This report created a huge ruckus amongst the digital marketers across world who worked hard to build their brands on Facebook and hence started blaming Facebook of becoming more greedy. However, on June 5, 2014 blog-post, Facebook’s VP of Ads Product Marketing, Brian Boland, wrote an extensive FAQ to answer questions about the reduction in organic reach to pacify all digital marketers. The main reasons that he shared was the increase in content generation in terms of text, photos & videos as well Facebook’s news-feed algorithm which decides what to show on your timeline.

Even according to the recent Adobe’s Q3 digital advertising report, from the past year Facebook organic impressions are down by 50% and paid impressions are up by 5%. See the graph below for more details:

Because of this, brands have started posting more posts as compared to earlier.

So, as a social media marketer, here is what I recommend brands to do:

1. Emphasize on producing quality content: Despite reduction in organic reach, I still believe brands should give utmost importance on building quality content. A content which:

a) is accompanied by rich images

b) has direct Call to Action (CTA) which state specifically what do you want your users to do after reading the post

c) is worth sharing or spreading

2. Allocate specific consistent monthly budgets for acquiring new fans as well as for promoting posts: Brands need to understand the fact that Facebook of 2010 isn’t the Facebook of 2014. The number of active users as well as the brand pages have grown exponentially. Hence, to keep your brand visible, it’s imperative to allocate specific monthly budgets for Facebook advertising.

3. Ensure social media community managers to be more responsive & on top of their game: I’ve seen many brand pages where most of the users’ comments/queries are usually unanswered or answered after 2-3 days and that too with a standard response. Believe me, this not only affects the brand’s image in a negative way but also annoys the users to a large extent. Hence brands need to ensure whether their social media platforms are being handled by external agencies or by their in-house teams, the so-called social media customers managers have to be on top of their game. Not only this, they even have the responsibility to:

a) analyze and suggest what is the best time to post feeds on the page

b) give suggestions to content team on regular basis for creating posts which can increase the engagement

c) share fortnightly or monthly reports on how they are accomplishing brand’s objectives set initially

4. Lastly, have monthly wall-based contests: According to a recent report by Ethinos marketing, there are more than 112 million Facebook users in India and 72 million (around 64%) are from the age-group of 13-25 years which shows majority of the Facebook users are very young. From my experience also, this age-group loves contest and gratifications. Hence, my advice to brands is that keep coming with small contests once in every month or two months to keep users engaged.

If none of these suggestions looks relevant to you, I’m afraid to say that Facebook shouldn’t be a part of your overall social media marketing mix. Do let me know if you have some more suggestions / ways which can help brands to get more out of their Facebook marketing. Let’s discuss them in the comments sections below.