Facebook Forces Marketers To Get More Creative

Chris CrumSocial Media

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Businesses using Facebook for marketing have been dealt a pretty bad hand over the past year. Facebook has drastically cut down the amount of organic reach Page posts typically receive, meaning fewer of any given Page's fans are likely to see an any given update from that Page, which they went out of their way to "like".

Have you found ways to overcome a decline in organic reach on Facebook? Let us know in the comments.

Mark Zuckerberg himself said in a Q&A in November, "I just want to express some empathy in that we understand what it’s like to be a business – especially from being a startup and trying to reach your customers, and reach people and communicate, and grow, and we care really deeply about the different changes in our product, and how that affects all the businesses and people who are using fan pages. And we take it really seriously when any product change that we do will change or have an impact on someone’s business.”

Then last month, Facebook made some algorithm changes that would hurt posts it finds to be too overly promotional. These are the examples Facebook shared in its announcement:

With Facebook throwing all of this at Pages, what's a business to do? We had a conversation with Dovev Goldstein, CEO of Moment.me, which provides social media advertising services. He shared some thoughts about how businesses should be reacting to Facebook's harsh changes.

How are brands most affected by the decline of organic reach?

"For brands who have put all their efforts into developing and growing a community on Facebook, the decline of organic reach feels like being denied access to their own fans. Brands now have to work harder to reach their target audiences, or, they simply have to cough up the money," Goldstein says. "For big brands with deep pockets, this might be less of a problem, but for small to medium businesses, this new development can seem to pose a big barrier to making social media work for them."

How is the social media marketing industry affected by the decline of organic reach?

"Given that social media marketing budgets are up again this year (even with Facebook announcing their plans for promotional posts well in advance of the new year), it seems as though the social media marketing industry isn’t overly fazed by this latest development," Goldstein says. "We also have to remember that social media doesn’t begin and end with Facebook, and fellow giants Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram (even if it is owned by Facebook) and LinkedIn continue to be important."

"While it might seem unfair to brands who have spent time and money growing their likes on Facebook, for social media marketers themselves, this development simply forces them to get more creative and clever in how they use the social medium as a way to promote their brand’s story. Yes, the decline in organic reach does mean that social media marketing will have to be conducted differently, but it can also be looked at as a new opportunity to redefine how brands communicate in this space. Small businesses in particular have an opportunity to shine here. They can use their relatively small size to be hyper-targeted in their outreach, going after individual users as opposed to posting a promotional post designed to pull in more quantity over quality."

With organic reach on Facebook all but dead, what are some of the best alternatives for free social media marketing?

"As I mentioned above, one of the best alternatives for getting the most out of your social media outreach is by being hyper-targeted," he continues. "Use a social media analytics tool that allows you to identify who are the most the relevant target users who also have the most reach and followers. Official ‘influencers’ might cost money, but just reaching out to someone with a lot of followers and friends and encouraging them to interact with your brand in a public way can have a huge impact."

"Ultimately, the best way to circumvent the decline in organic reach is to encourage users to ‘Share’ instead of just ‘Like’. Moving forward, it will be imperative to set up the infrastructure to make more authentic interactions snowball to turn each contact into an ongoing conversation and an engaged connection."

Do businesses absolutely have to spend more money on social media to have success?

"Not necessarily, but they may have to spend more time," he says. "Either way, businesses should be making an investment in social media if they want to have success in today’s digital age. Social media is one of the many digital channels customers interact with on a daily basis, and from a customer engagement standpoint, you’ll want to engage with your biggest supporters and fans where they interact the most. Having said this, in order to get the most out of your social media investment, being (pro)active and responsive is essential. Just being present on social media is not enough to have a positive outcome, responsiveness to customers is the key to success."

Can businesses afford not to spend money on Facebook?

"Facebook is definitely a place many businesses will want to focus some of their resources, but the investment doesn’t have to be in paid Facebook services to deliver on their social media goals," he says. "Moreover, as I said above, there are plenty of other social media platforms available. For those businesses who really need Facebook, however, there are tools out there which can help maximise the impact of any money businesses might spend on the platform. Above all, having a well thought-out strategy is the key to ensuring you don’t end up spending more than intended."

Can a business find social media success entirely without Facebook?

"It’s entirely possible for companies to find social media success without using Facebook," says Goldstein. "It all comes down to the type of business you have and who your customers are. Depending on who your target market is - the demographics of your customers, their gender, and age – will all be factors in determining which specific social platform is best for engaging your audience. Let’s not forget that some of the biggest brands in the world – like Apple for example – are not even on Facebook."

Last week, Facebook released its quarterly earnings report. The company's ad revenue was up 53% year-over-year.

Be sure to check out our recent interview with OutboundEngine CEO Branndon Stewart about how SMBs can deal with Facebook's News Feed changes.

Does your marketing budget have room for a lot of paid Facebook posts or are you pursuing alternatives? Let us know in the comments.

Image via Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook

Chris Crum
Chris Crum has been a part of the WebProNews team and the iEntry Network of B2B Publications since 2003. Follow Chris on Twitter, on StumbleUpon, on Pinterest and/or on Google: +Chris Crum.