Facebook is Screwing Your Brand, and You Should Thank Them For It

by Mack Collier

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For brands that rely on using Facebook to reach customers, the hand-wringing just went up a notch.  Time and other sources have recently reported that Facebook’s plan is to restrict a brand’s ability to organically reach followers down to 1 or 2%.  That means that eventually, only 1 or 2 percent of your followers will see the average update your brand posts.

Unless…your brand agrees to pay Facebook for more exposure.  Apparently social media is free…until your company goes public and has stockholders to answer to.  It’s not a coincidence that Facebook is looking for new revenue streams now that it’s a publicly-traded company.

Newsflash: Twitter is now a publicly-traded company as well.  Don’t be surprised if the San Francisco company doesn’t also try to generate new revenue at the expense of brand activities that had previously been free.

While I have never been a huge fan of Facebook, I also recognize its right to monetize as it sees fit.  Let’s be honest: Facebook has been letting your brand effectively advertise for free for a while now.  You could argue that they have been letting you get ‘hooked’ on using its service for free and then they charge you, but its still your brand’s choice to use Facebook.  This is why I have been cautioning clients and companies for years now to not plant all their seeds in digital gardens that they do not own.  Facebook in particular has a history of changing the rules and making things more difficult for brands.  Now it is algorithm changes that affect organic reach, before that it was constantly changing rules on running contests on brand pages.

The bottom line is that you never want your brand to be in a position where all its content eggs are put in a basket that someone else owns.  If your social media efforts depend on Facebook to reach your customers, then effectively you have ceded control of said social media efforts to Facebook.

The reality is that Facebook is screwing with your ability to reach customers for free.  And that’s a good thing.  This move is going to force companies to do one of two things:

1 – Start paying for exposure on Facebook

2 – Start creating content via tools that the company controls

Many companies will go the first route.  Budgets devoted to SEO and other digital marketing channels will likely be diverted in a quest for paid Likes.

The smart companies will be the ones that invest in learning how to create and distribute content via channels that the company owns.  Guess what?  The corporate website is about to become relevant again.  The same corporate website that was bemoaned as being an archaic waste a few years ago has been seeing its own Renaissance recently.

Let’s be clear: Your website should be the central home or base of your social media efforts.  All your efforts should feed back here versus going through Facebook or Twitter.  Because while you don’t control Facebook, you do have control over your website.

I am a fan of this move because it is going to force brands to become better content creators.  It’s also going to require that brands get serious about social media: Either by paying for exposure, or by investing in learning how to create content that’s valuable enough to customers that they will seek that content out via channels that the brand owns.

For brands like Red Bull and Patagonia that have been nailing content marketing for a while now, this move won’t have a huge impact, because customers will actively seek out content from these brands.  If no one is reading your content on Facebook now, that’s not on Facebook, it’s on you.

Now’s your chance to get serious about social media and content marketing, and start seeing serious results.  Want to learn how to create effective content that gets seen by your customers? Make sure you follow this one simple rule.

Pic via Flickr user BobLinsdell

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