That was sound of Facebook slapping marketers across the face with another algorithm change that will see a further reduction of 'promotional' content in people's newsfeed. The change will take place in January 2015 - Facebook claim that this won't lead to more ads being pushed into people's feeds, I don't buy that for one minute. The strangulation of organic reach from Facebook isn't new (I wrote about the need for a budget back in August) but we are now seeing what feels like the final moves towards a predominately paid-only platform, if we aren't already there that is.
The fact is, that if you aren't willing or able to pay, then you can forget about seeing any serious results. The right type of content may well still make it into feeds - is that native video, or what Facebook term as 'news'? Well we don't really know. Frankly, it's going to take a huge amount of time to make an impact, and when you take the time-cost Vs actually spending cash, it will most likely make more sense to just to chuck the money into ads that drive people to your site, content and so on - after all, the targeting is excellent and can be cost effective. Just make sure you're measuring it. Please.
To Page or not to Page?
Just a quick thought on this - yes, you should have a presence (this doesn't apply to all businesses), maintain a well thought-out and regularly updated Page, but regard it as a base for advertising activity (ads will still send people to your Page even if that isn't your primary aim). I honestly think that this will be the most effective and efficient approach for Facebook come 2015. Achieving real success (which to me, is an effect on your actual business, not just fluffy likes, comment etc) without taking these measures will be very, very tough.
This will stretch beyond Facebook in the future
Why should any platform allow brands etc to market for free? It really doesn't make any sense. Us marketers have jumped on every social media platform and made every possible move to make it work as way of getting to people. Of course, I'm not denouncing that, but do people really think it was going to be a cheap route to eyeballs forever? Facebook and Twitter grew at a time when this was all very much a step into the unknown, the social media we know now was an embryo, they were almost powerless to stop the marketing rush. Things are a little different now, they hold more power (especially Facebook) and we're beginning to see the full flex of muscle.
Social media platforms can't represent free marketing forever
It's just not viable. Yes, we may see approaches that fall out-with the fairly standard ad models that Facebook and Twitter employ, but they will always need to be monetised in some way. The hype around Ello and their promise of no ads or data selling was huge in October, how that pans-out remains to be seen. The route to revenue may not always come via brands, but may be passed onto the normal users, which could upset the apply cart. The fact is, that we all need to accept that the lovely days of 'free' social media are numbered, and change our thinking and approach to reflect that. Oh, and stop whinging about it. You've had it easy so far...
I am right, wrong, oblong or just King Kong? Do give me your thoughts in the comments below.