The reasons people use social media are to be informed, helped and entertained. No one wants to be sold when they are trying to escape the ads, pop-ups and SPAM. However, wherever people will congregate, marketers are not too far behind (I think it’s like Moore’s law or something… but I digress). Therefore, before we knew it, brands were making their homes on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest to name a few. Well, Facebook, now that it has gone public and has to deliver to its stockholders and board, have started to make its network useless for anyone offering anything—unless you pay.
According to USA Today, in an article headlined, Facebook to cut promotional posts in News Feeds states, “This isn’t the first time Facebook has cut the number of unpaid posts, arguing their users would rather see updates from friends and family. At the same time, Facebook is aggressively growing its advertising business.” Now shave my head and call me Shorty, but if Facebook believed its users would rather see content from family and friends, then why are they AGGRESSIVELY INCREASING paid advertising? Wouldn’t it make sense if they were truly concerned about the users’ wants, they would be DECREASING advertising (things that make you go, Hmmm…)?
Not wanting to be too unreasonable, I agree that SPAMMY ads should not be allowed. However, if one took the time to build a page by the rules which were initially set, and spent the time, energy and money to make it successful, wouldn’t allowing them their just rewards for a job well done be good business? So how is not only robbing them of their just rewards (by allowing only two-percent of their friends to be able to see their posts—read Is Facebook Still Relevant for Social-Media Marketing), but then adding salt to the wound by charging them to reach the audience they worked so hard to acquire a good thing? While it’s great for Facebook and its shareholders, it’s a slap in the face of the people that made Facebook the giant it has become.
Now I am in marketing, so it would seem I have an ax to grind; but if you will allow me to explain, I think you will agree. So let me explain.
I do not like overly promotional material in my news feed either, which is why I make it a point to not do that myself. Moreover, I can choose what I will see and what I won’t. So if I see what I DON’T like, it’s my fault. Understanding the foundation of social media (to entertain, help and inform), I use blogs like this article, to do those three things. By providing great information, in an easily consumable format that adds value to the reader, I drive traffic to my website. Guess what, this is what every blogger and journalist does. After all, for one to invest time, energy and money, there must be a return. For broadcast media it’s the advertising dollars they make on the commercials they air. For newspapers and magazines, it’s the print-ad space they sell. For a blogger or a brand, it’s the traffic they generate to their website, in the hopes that while the visitor is there they find it intriguing enough to look around.
You may say, “Eddie, there’s nothing unreasonable about that, but that’s not what Facebook is blocking?” Then you have missed a few articles. In an article titled Facebook is using the Bully Pulpit to Force Businesses to Buy Advertising, you will find Zuckerberg has learned well that incrementalism is the best approach.
All done within a period of about six months! It’s economics 101: punish what you don’t want; reward what you do want.
What I don’t understand is in the same article, USA Today lumped in Twitter. While I can’t speak for anyone else, personally and in the campaigns I’ve managed, the number one prospect generator is LinkedIn; number two is Twitter. Therefore, Twitter is fine if you are genuine, actually offer help and are not looking for just a quick buck. If you are consistent, the compounding effect will make it profitable.
Finally, there are niche networks that exist for almost any market. I found four that specialize in Baby Boomers for a client. In the past, helping to promote a new Ott Lite, my partner and I found one that specialized in arts and crafts, and the return was spectacular. Don’t get caught in the belief that Facebook is the end all be all. Do some homework and I believe you will find more profitable venues, if you don’t wish to pay for advertising.
So there you have it. How you choose to use Facebook is totally up to you; but at least be aware of what to expect. If you agree the only promotional material should be paid advertising from Facebook, then you are home. If you feel that as long as you are not sharing spammy, annoying and misleading content, you should be able to promote your business—well, you have some thinking to do!