Facebook is throttling engagement in the name of selling advertising, and that's not a good thing for all the brands and small businesses who have started saying "Find Us On Facebook" instead of "Visit Our Website". Here's why.
There used to be three kinds of online media in the minds of most marketers, Owned (like websites and apps), Earned (like news or blog coverage), and Bought (like search engine or Facebook ads). Now, I argue there's a FOURTH kind of online media, BORROWED. That's the media you put your great content on and hope the owners will share it with their users, also known as your customers and prospects.
Many marketers have relied far too heavily on Borrowed Media in the last few years because, well, it was free and lots of people went there. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, the list goes on and on. And now most of those companies have had their IPO's and suddenly realize they need to make money at the hands of the users who have been, rightly or wrongly, taking advantage of the "free ride" for so long. Facebook is clearly leading the pack in this, making it next to impossible for some posts to be seen without the advertiser coughing up some money.
Let's go back to the chart above and dig deeper into the findings the 4129 Agency published. These are statistics for September, 2013, and most people agree the situation is not getting better, it's getting worse for reach.
If you were using an agency to give you results like that, you'd fire them in a heartbeat. But Facebook is doing this to you if you're not paying them to feature your content. And all the "Find Us On Facebook" mentions in the world mean little if people will hardly ever, maybe NEVER, see your posts once they like you.
So what do you do as a brand, business, or individual? Concentrate on the media you OWN, like your blog. Don't completely blow off Facebook and Twitter, but use them to move people to your own media like your website and blog so you can control what they see, give them reasons to come back, and grow a valuable e-mail database of your fans and followers that YOU own, not the highly leveraged companies you're borrowing space from. You remember your blog, it's either your entire website or part of your website and chances are you haven't updated it in months or longer because you're putting pithy comments and photos on all those networks that aren't letting your fans see them.
Almost everything you have been doing on Facebook can be done on your website. Updates on your blog, contests, trapping information about your visitors, coupons and deals, and much more. And it's YOUR real estate, so YOU own the data you gather, YOU decide what you want to know from your visitors, YOU have supreme analytic power to slice it and dice it any way you want, and with a little work, you can turn ALL of that into an effective e-mail database that will speak to your audience directly, know what they do and don't want to hear about, and can be tested a dozen different ways to see what works. Nothing you can own, earn, buy, or even borrow is more valuable to your brand than a well curated e mail list, and you need to have one to make up for not being able to borrow other people's platforms without paying.
We'll talk about using e mail in excruciating detail in a future blog post, but in the meantime, think of this. Would you rather spend your time posting things to social networks that won't pass them along to your fans or would you rather hire a good Digital Manager or agency and let them grow your website, bring people back to it often, and keep in touch with those people through a coordinated e mail campaign that may be 40 times more effective at making sales than social media posts?
Thinking time is up. Being taken advantage of time is up. It's time to reinvest in your website, blog, and e-mail so you can satisfy your current customers and attract new ones.