If You Build it, Facebook Might Make You Pay for It

Consider it one of the hazards of social media marketing: You don’t own your Facebook page. That means anyone willing to spend a “like” on your page can post good, bad or just plain weird bits of content that frame your brand and influence potential advocates. It also means that the owner of those pages could ask you to pay for the right to play with your own fans.

That owner? Facebook.

They make no bones about it, claiming their right to your page, and reportedly even going so far as to do a little peek-a-boo show with marketers, revealing select fan preferences from other brands in a controlled environment.

Now it seems that companies doing business on Facebook have another reason to be mindful of ownership. According to George Takei and Mark Cuban, Facebook is suppressing posts by large brands in an effort to generate revenue. They paint a scenario in which Facebook is offering brands the chance to buy more reach for status updates. That’s a problem, because most companies assume that a status update has the organic potential of reaching most members of a given Page. While no one ever thought that company status updates reached all members via a news feed, the idea of paying for “guaranteed” reach of non-paid, organic content…well, it’s not supposed to work that way.

 

But that’s what’s happening — maybe. In an interview with ReadWriteWeb, Cuban pointed out that Facebook was offering the Dallas Mavericks more reach (1 million of their own likes) for $3,000. Earlier, in an interview with the Wall St. Journal, Takei had complained that his general reach dropped 25 percent, though the number of people talking about and liking the page was increasing. For large brands, it’s yet another thing to get miffed about when it comes to Facebook. Recent studies show that updates by Pages with more than 1 million likes reach just one-third the number that a Page with 1,000 to 10,000 likes does.

But that doesn’t mean Facebook is holding status updates hostage, and in fact it may be nothing more than a convergence of the new “Promoted Posts” feature with a tightening of the Facebook algorithm that controls news feeds. That, combined with the fact that users never did see ALL of a company’s updates, has served as an alarm clock for marketers. Fact is, the company has reported that the percentage of status updates that reach users has stayed remarkably consistent between July 2011 and October 2012, and an audit conducted by PageLever shows that reach has been pretty steady even after the company revised its EdgeRank algorithm.

So — is this another one of those “if you build it, we’ll make you pay for it” digital marketing scenarios? Probably not. As discussed by Ketty Colom in her DrivingSales post Mark Cuban’s Facebook Outcry, regardless of under the hood tweaking, Facebook engagement is important and growing, and a critical part of CRM, event marketing and content generation. It amounts to a free and really well done community network on which virtually everyone is a member (and some more than once). Using it to create awareness of your business, promote events and reach out to customers is a digital marketing basics.

Just be mindful: You don’t own it, and one day somebody might want you to start paying for it.

–Brian Chee

Source: ReadWriteWeb, Wall St. Journal

Published on DrivingSales.com

 

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