The Free Ride May Be Over
Social media has become a staple of marketing managers worldwide. It’s an easy, and quick, way to reach and engage customers. Plus, for the most part, it’s free. Create a Company Page on Facebook and you can technically reach its 1.23 billion monthly users. But, according to a study at Social@Ogilvy, in the near future those Company Page posts won’t organically reach the users that “Like” your page.
The study tracked the percentage of organic reaches - those posts that come up on a user’s News Feed - over five months. It found that Facebook has been steadily reducing that percentage every month. In October 2013, reaches were about 12 percent. Now, as of February 2014, organic reach is down to six percent, a decrease of 49 percent from peak levels in October. Compare that six percent to the 16 percent Facebook allowed in 2012 and it’s easy to determine that organic reaches will eventually be zero.
According to Time magazine (www.time.com), Facebook has attributed this change to increased competition as more people and companies join its service. A user typically receives 1,500 posts per day and Facebook chooses 300 to put on the News Feed. Facebook also claimed it is shift ing its focus to high-quality content.
Of course, Facebook has a solution, buy ads. Take a tour of a Facebook page and you’ll fi nd the company has a slew of tools to create ads on its site. Ads can be catered to specifi c audiences and specifi c goals. For example, you can create an ad to get users to click on your website, “Like” your Page or download an app. Targeted audiences can be based on: location, gender, age, likes and interests, relationship status, workplace and education. You can also target an ad to people who are already connected to you.
According to Facebook, the cost of your ad is up to you. You can choose between a daily or a lifetime budget, as well as a cost per thousand impressions bid (CPM) or cost per click bid (CPC). The price could be anywhere from $.05 to $5 per impression or click. The more targeted your ad, the more you’ll pay. Although, you will only pay for the clicks or impressions you receive.
Th is may still be a tough pill to swallow for small businesses that have relied on Facebook’s ease, and lack of cost, to reach their customers. But keep in mind that even if you don’t want to pay for Facebook advertising, it’s still a great way to engage customers.
Your fans can post questions directly to you from your Company Page. It gives you the opportunity to interact with them directly, on a timely basis. Th ese interactions don’t fall into Facebook’s fi lters.
If you have loyal fans, those that have “Liked” your page or commented on a post, they fall into Facebook’s category of users that will still see your posts, for a while anyway. And, those “Likes” still fall into the free benefi t of showing up on the side of a Facebook page showing friends who “Liked” a page.
Th ere is also the low barrier of entry to collect user information. It is really easy for a user to “Like” a page and then a customer connection is made. While it may not always bear fruit, it is possible to later connect with that customer in hopes of receiving his or her email address.
Whether or not a paid Facebook ad holds value for your company, be aware that in the coming future no matter what you post, your fans may never see it.