If you’ve been paying attention since the dawn of 2013, you’re aware that there are some pretty sizable changes coming to Facebook. They’ve announced the new News Feed, which has had a number of marketers and SMO experts buzzing like bees hyped up on excess pheromones. Some are freaking out, some say nothing will change, and many have ended up somewhere in between. Whatever side you land on and whatever plan of action you intend to adopt, it seems there’s one thing most of us agree on.
Facebook is making a dramatic push toward monetization for anyone who wants to seriously use the medium for advertising. Businesses, individuals, non-profits, organized groups… everyone with a Page is feeling the pressure.
Here are just a few of the changes we’re seeing:
Facebook’s new News Feed. If you haven’t heard all about it yet, you’d better get up to speed. We’ll be doing a more in-depth breakdown of the new feed later this week, but for now, all you need to know is that it has the potential to upset the way businesses are used to using Facebook, and any marketer worth their salt will be preparing a new approach.
Admin panels are changing shape. Not literally – not yet. The available information is changing, though. In the last month, many businesses have noticed that their “Notifications” panel is being replaced with “Posts,” along with prominent links advising you to “Promote Post.” You’ve been seeing more pop-ups and panels advising you to “Get More Likes” and create an ad. This is no accident. This is Facebook saying, “Come on, guys. Time to pay up.”
Ads, Promoted Posts, and Sponsored Stories are getting more pronounced. They’re increasing in size, frequency, and location. This is something else that’s going to be majorly affected by the new News Feed. Come back later in the week to learn more.
The way posts are seen has changed. This has been going on for a while, but if you haven’t noticed, the number of people who “see” certain posts varies pretty widely. You’ll notice fewer “views” on posts with links or images, and more for simple text-only status updates. However, you’ll also notice content that is regularly shared shoots up in views relatively quickly. That’s because sharing is the major currency of Facebook. Come back for our News Feed post to learn more.
Now, here’s why you shouldn’t be afraid of these changes.
Many small businesses and marketers are feeling pretty snarly when it comes to paying Facebook for their advertising. Facebook and other major social media players have long been the source of “free” advertising, and businesses don’t fancy having to pay for the “same” service. Twisting arms! Milking wallets! How dare they!
Here’s the thing: it’s not the same service. If you’ve never put a single red cent into social media, then you really haven’t been using it to its fullest potential. On the other hand, if your business has never paid any money for SM advertising but you’ve still managed to create a huge and lucrative community for yourself, then you are amazing. Seriously, no jokes. That is incredibly rare, and we salute you. It’s possible, but not probable for most small businesses.
You may have noticed that you can occasionally get some solid interaction and a decent following cost-free, but many businesses find it difficult to get the word out. Creating quality, sharable content that you can post regularly without ticking off your following is hard. Getting people to like your page is really hard. Getting all of this to turn into conversions can feel impossible.
Sure, you can post a cute kitten picture and get dozens of likes and a few comments and shares, but so what? What is that doing to increase the likelihood of people utilizing your product or service? What is it doing for brand recognition? Showing your humanity is important, but so is converting.
This is where advertising comes in. As a free user, your message is getting out to maybe 10-25% of your following. This has always been the case, not only for Facebook, but for most kinds of advertising. Television, print media, radio… all of it has only reached a small amount of the populace, and even then, there’s no guarantee they’re really seeing or hearing your message. Facebook, on the other hand, is offering the opportunity to be put in front of not only every single person who’s already shown interest in your business, but all of their connections, as well. It’s forced word-of-mouth.
It’s an incredibly powerful tool. We were always moving toward this point, and it’s a mistake to abandon Facebook now. Your advertising potential just went through the roof, and it’s still possible to make waves without breaking the bank if you approach it the right way.
Don’t think of these changes as a free service screwing you out of your money. Think of it as a service that has always offered you enormous advertising potential, and now you must properly budget in order to utilize that potential. Walking away will leave a sizable gap in users’ ability to find and interact with your brand.
It’s not the end of the world. It’s just time to expand your advertising budget and adjust to the times. This is where consumers are now, and you have to pay to be seen, just as you always have. Don’t miss the train.