Mark is a budding cartoonist who created a Facebook page to share his art with the world. At first things were going great. His page began to grow due to his cartoons going viral. There were fantastic discussions occurring on his page on a daily basis. He even started selling his comics to his growing fan base. But then things changed. User engagement began to drop off. Less and less people were “liking” and “sharing” his illustrations. His sales even took a hit. Mark didn’t understand what was happening, but as he would soon discover, he wasn’t alone. Hundreds of other fan page creators were noticing the same phenomenon. User engagement and activity were steadily decreasing. Their posts and updates were reaching a smaller and smaller audience. In essence, organic reach of their posts was virtually nonexistent. But the question remained…why? The answer, in short, is simple. Facebook now wants us to buy ads…and they are no longer shying away from this fact: “We expect organic distribution of an individual page’s posts to gradually decline over time as we continually work to make sure people have a meaningful experience on the site.”
In other words, to weed out spammy, non-engaging content, Facebook now wants us to pay for ads to ensure people are only getting the content they truly want. This of course ironically completely negates the entire premise behind “liking” or “following” a page in the first place. Most marketers believe that a fan page is a free means to acquire fans by building a content distribution channel. This, at one point, was true. However, with the new changes Facebook is implementing, this is no longer the case. With Facebook’s new plan, the sole purpose of the fan page is actually to make future Facebook ads more effective. More targeted, if you will. So in this new Facebook economy, Mark would have to purchase ads promoting his page or illustrations in order to regain his traffic, engagement, and sales. For many experienced online marketers, this wasn’t a surprise. Once Facebook went public and had to answer to share holders, many marketers new that the “free ride” was essentially over. They knew changes were on the horizon and soon the whole premise behind Facebook would be to turn a profit. After all, nothing in life comes free.
So what can you do to not feel the changes behind Facebook’s new economy? Well, for starters, you could stop depending on Facebook, and start utilizing Facebook. The changes they are implementing are not limited to Facebook. You can expect similar changes across most heavily used social media platforms. In fact, Twitter is now implementing new advertisement strategies as well. So what’s the solution? Get your fans off of social media and onto your website or mailing list, because as you’ve probably guessed, your website and mailing list are immune to any changes different social media venues implement. For example, Facebook allows applications that help you create squeeze boxes within Facebook. You could purchase an ad, direct targeted individuals to the ad, and link it to a squeeze page where you offer a free gift for signing up. Or you could direct them straight to your website. Unfortunately, to survive the new social media economy, we’re going to have to find ways to get our fans off of social media. OR, change your mindset when it comes to social media platforms, perceive them as paid business platforms (everyone needs to make money) and if you were successful with ROI on social media before, you will be again, it’s just going to cost you.