Adapting to Social Media Changes
by Dale Landrith
As Facebook changes their algorithms, rules, and opportunities, the same call rings out from business owners everywhere …”What is Facebook doing? Our reach has disappeared, and now they want us to pay to reach our own fans.” OR “Facebook, just isn’t worth the effort anymore. Since it’s no longer showing our posts to people, it’s not worth the time.”
Here is what I have to say about it:
BOO HOO, and get over it!
Marketing costs something. It costs effort, planning, ad space, design time, and advertising teams. It always has, and it always will. So it’s time to figure out how to minimize costs, maximize returns, and formulate a plan that will generate a return on your company investment and continue to partner with your fans and enable them to become brand ambassadors for you … for free.
In 2007, if one of your clients sat down with you and said, “I’m so happy with your company that I am going to call 200 people I know and tell them that they should do business with you,” you would have jumped off your chair and done everything you could to encourage the good will that they were showing your brand. Today, we take each of those people for granted, because social media has made those types of interactions more commonplace over the past few years. It is time that we realize the value of the ambassadors that Facebook and other social media channels have allowed us to connect our businesses with, and capitalize on the opportunities in front of us.
1) What is the value of a fan?
A fan on Facebook, a follower on Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, or Pinterest, or a subscriber on Instagram or YouTube is really a potential ambassador of your brand, and there is significant value in that relationship. These ambassadors are the people that can tell everyone about how great your business is through likes, favorites, shares, comments, retweets, +1’s, and repins. In 2007, would you have paid a few cents to ensure that your brand ambassadors received your messages and saw the important things going on in your company? Of course you would have. In 2007 it was called direct mail and postage. Today, your brand ambassadors are only a few cents away and it’s cheaper than printing and postage. When you pay to promote your messages to these people, they are going to share it to tens of thousands of prospects outside your current follower base, and all you have to do is ensure they see your messages. People who are willing to tell their friends and connections about why they choose to do business with you are an invaluable asset, well worth paying to reach. We have always referred to “word of mouth” as the most effective marketing in the world. Social media is word of mouth marketing … on steroids. Understanding the value of these ambassadors and how to engage them puts you in a great position to reap the benefits of social marketing, even if you have to pay to access them.
2) Are Facebook fans worth paying for?
As organic reach on Facebook has declined and only small percentages of your business page fans see your regular posts, the question arises, “Is it worth paying to target additional fans?” If you have 2,000 fans, but only a few of them are seeing your posts on a regular basis, why bother? This dilemma has baffled many businesses causing them to abandon Facebook altogether. My take on it is different. Just because reach has declined does not mean that it has to stay low. But before we look at paying for fans, let’s first look at your content strategy.
- Are you posting content that your followers are interested in and want to see?
If you are receiving little engagement, the answer is, sadly, no. Before you worry about paying to reach more people, you first need to identify what your target audience wants to see.
- Are you posting often enough to keep your content in your followers news feeds on a regular basis?
While Facebook does not tell us exactly what factors make up their magic News Feed ranking algorithm, they do monitor engagement by unique individuals over seven day periods in a statistic they call, “People talking about this.” Since this statistic measures the number of people engaged with your page, it’s a safe guess that the higher the number the better your rank. It also follows that if you are not posting at minimum, 5 days a week, you will not have enough fans seeing your posts to keep your engagement high.
- What do you want to accomplish with your content?
It is commonly said that Facebook is a social platform and therefore much of your content strategy should be engaging, not sales focused. It is key to understand what you want your prospects to do once they follow your company. If you post exceptionally engaging content and gather lots of fans, but your fans don’t what to do next, you’ve missed the mark and are wasting your time. On the flip side, if you only post hard-sell business info to your pages, people will most likely not follow your company, and if they do, it will not be long before you become ignored. (As a side note, being ignored is worse than being undiscovered.) Once you have prospects paying attention and engaging with you, be sure to give them clear direction on what they should do next to further engage with your company.
Once you have a good content strategy, and the fans that you are reaching are engaging with your company, and your messaging is not only gathering lots of interaction, but also leading fans with what to do next, it’s time to gather more fans. Each fan that you gain that likes, comments, or shares your content is a brand ambassador, and invaluable to your organization. These are the fans worth paying for! The average Facebook user is around 38 and has 200 friends, so getting these people engaged and paying to acquire more of them is an important part of any good Facebook strategy once you have your content strategy working well.
3) Is Social Marketing exposure worth paying for?
Cost, Cost, Cost! As a business manager, everything has a cost, and it’s up to us to decide which contain the right value to spend our marketing dollars on, and which are a waste of money. The balance in understanding what specific returns we get from each marketing dollar we spend versus spending money for brand exposure is a discussion for another day. In short, there are two ways to look at your social expenditures. If you can correlate a direct relationship between the cost of your social media acquisitions and actual sales, your job is simple. If it costs you $20 for each acquisition of a sale, and the profit on each sale exceeds $20, you have a winner. If not, then you need to strategize a way to drive down your acquisition cost in order to make the model work. Many times, our ROI (Return on Investment) model is not quite as clear as this one, and we have to work a bit more. For as many years as we can all remember, newspaper ads and Yellow Pages ads have been a reliable standby for business exposure, and it’s time to look at how we use that same model for paid social advertising.
Let’s do the math: In a weekly local paper with a distribution of 50,000, it can cost you as little as $750 per week for a half page color advertisement. Let’s assume that out of 50,000 people who receive the paper, 50% of them see your ad, and that 5% of those people might be relevant to your business. You have now had exposure to 25,000 people, 1,250 of which are relevant to your business.
In contrast, through Facebook ads, you can pay to expose your business’ messages to thousands of people that fit your target demographic, for a few cents apiece. In a recent boosted post on Facebook, one of my clients reached 10,000, targeted prospects in three days for $85. During this short campaign, 400 people engaged with her company post.
To correlate these numbers to a newspaper ad budget, had this client spent the same $750 for a week, it would have had a targeted reach of over 88,000 people, and gathered 3,529 post interactions. If the average prospect that engaged with the post has 200 friends, then their $750 would give them a monthly reach of over 700,000, at least 80,000 of which fit the target demographic the business is focused on.
Most importantly, social ad spend is traceable. You can measure how many of the people you target become brand ambassadors through post engagement and sharing with their friends. Over time, and by running multiple types of posts and promotions, you can optimize your ad dollars to produce the highest interaction with your brand ambassadors. With a newspaper ad, you can only guess.
You decide which opportunity has better ROI.
Get over it!
As business owners around the world scream about Facebook’s declining non-paid reach and your competitors decide if Facebook is still worth their time, get over it. Facebook still has the largest audience of any social network, and it is well worth your company’s investment to ensure you have a good content strategy, gain and energize brand ambassadors, and do what it takes to get your messages to your target market. The cost to do this effectively is worth the investment and gives you the opportunity to measure the results and optimize your ad dollars.
If you are struggling with developing a good strategy for your business, don’t have the time to do it, or need help with effective ad campaigns, contact us and we can help you find the right opportunities for your business.