In the beginning, Facebook was a free and easily managed resource for small, local, and startup companies. The social network built an infrastructure that allowed these companies a way to bypass the large marketing budgets once required to reach a mass audience. Facebook quickly became the silver bullet that would change all marketing.
Pages, the commerce side of Facebook, launched in 2007, and reached critical mass by 2009. It’s been five years, and since that time Facebook has gone public. They now have shareholders and Wall Street to answer to, and it appears that it’s time to pay the piper. In addition to worrying about financial performance, Facebook user growth began to stagnate. College students, the initial audience of the platform, had begun to lose interest. So, in the end of 2012, things started changing.
Page posts now reach less than 6% of their audience on average. More vigorous interaction with a brand’s page yields a wider audience for that page (i.e., the brand shows up on more Newsfeeds). According to Facebook, this is due largely to change in the Newsfeed algorithm. According to others–including analysts, agencies, and brands–this is done to push brands into buying likes, fans, and interaction. I have no hard data of my own to base decisions on. In some cases, I still see great interaction for some brands, and for others, I see the interaction drop off significantly. And in all cases, I can see both forces at work.
What I can say for sure is this:
- Social Media is always changing; no one network is forever.
- Digital Marketing is a process; social networks are a tool.
- Focusing on good content will trump tricks every single time.
Social Media is always changing
Do you use MySpace? Friendster? TwitPic? Do you know what they are? At one time, the accepted advice would make these mandatory. Facebook is no different; it’s just lasted longer. What does one do to stay on top of the trends? Relax. There are more than enough people (us included) keeping up on them for you. Post where you see results. Not liking what Facebook is doing for you? Switch to Google+ or Pinterest. Both are reported to do wonders for content. Also, don’t be afraid to try an experiment.
Digital Marketing is a process
A process requires a plan. A plan requires a goal, methods, and tasks. And they all work best when you start with the goal in mind. Your goal should be effective, specific, and measurable. Effective in that the goal will provide a desired result that will in turn boost your bottom line. Some examples of a good goal are “Sell nine copies of this new release this week” or ” Get a 25% increase in attendance for this event by Friday.” Both of these are measurable (“nine copies,” “25%,” “by Friday”), specific (a specific book, a specific event), and they are effective (selling books means more revenue, more attendance sells more books and sidelines).
Focus on good content
There is something to be said for brand recognition. I tell people about my local bookstores. I do it for a lot of reasons, but when there is something I like to share, it is so much easier. When there’s an event that my friends and followers would appreciate, I share it. But that’s easy. I like to share something humorous, something unexpected. The best way you can get people to share your brand is by pointing your friends & followers to a place on your website where you keep fresh content coming. Yes, that is time consuming. Yes, that requires work. But you will always own that. Search results will always point to your store. People can continue to share that indefinitely. That is the true power of digital marketing.
If you’re interested, here’s some of where I got my research: