It seems nothing changes faster than the big social media platforms — Facebook, Twitter, Google+. No sooner do marketers figure out how to best promote a product or business than they change the rules!
That’s been especially true for Facebook, which had to find new ways to make money after going public two years ago. Twitter has also been making changes since its IPO in November, but most of them – including a visual redesign, tagging people and uploading multiple photos – are geared toward user friendliness. Even Google+, owned by Google, which went public way back in 2004, is constantly tweaking.
But the tweaks bringing the most squeals of protest are those being made by Facebook. Basically, it has taken away users’ ability to reach – for free – all or even most of the people they’ve worked so hard to attract to their pages.
So, do brands and businesses just abandon the platform and the audience there?
“No – they just have to change how you use Facebook,” says Jonathan Sellers, a social media strategist at EMSI Public Relations.
“In the past, the goal was to get as many people to ‘like’ your page – or to ‘friend’ you if you were using a personal page for marketing purposes,” he says. “Forget likes. Now, Facebook makes you pay to get people to like your page by charging you to promote your posts, and then it makes you pay again to get your posts in front of them. That seriously devalues the like!”
Only 5 to 10 percent of people following your business or brand pages – sometimes even less! – will see what you have to share if you don’t pay for extra visibility via a “boosted post,” he says.
“So the focus should shift from working to get people following your page to getting your content to your market.”
Facebook’s inexpensive ads and “boosted posts” actually offer some great benefits, he notes. Here are three he says we should be taking advantage of:
• Flexibility. Facebook allows you to create ads and boost posts for any number of reasons. For example, you can create content designed to drive people to your website; get them to engage with you; to sign up for an event; or even track visitors.
• Targeting. Did you know that when you create an ad on Facebook, you can choose the specific types of people you want to see the ad? Targeting on Facebook goes far beyond the traditional demographics of age, sex and location. You can target people based on their interests. Are you a sports bar owner in Miami who wants to attract Chicago Bears fans to watch the games at your place every week? Facebook makes it super easy for you to reach people who live in your ZIP code, who are over 21 and who love the Bears.
• Reporting. Facebook offers very detailed reporting so you can rest assured that you will see exactly where your ad dollars are going. There is a slight learning curve to figure out the best ways to utilize the data, but it’s there for you.
“This experience should be a lesson to all of us that we cannot become too dependent on any single platform,” Sellers says.
“They’re all going to continuously evolve to find the best mix of optimal user experience and profit.”