You thought you have fans and your earned media so far. Sorry but it is not working that way anymore. They are only reachable through advertising.
Marketers put effort and energy on social networks mainly for reach. But now organic reach is over. Paid posts are necessary for reach. Unpaid posts are out. Facebook already announced that organic reach will continue to significantly decrease. As Facebook officially stated in June 2014, then in November 2014, newsfeed is a very competitive place. And right community management and robust ad planning is essential. According to Ogilvy report for instance, large pages has reached only 2% of their fans organically in February 2014.
This is so nature of Facebook business. As I always say; Facebook is a huge media company with a great consumer data to be sold to marketers. Do brands really think they use these social networks for free and engage with their fans as they wish? Or believe that Facebook is here only for building more open and transparent communication opportunity with the vision of more connected world. This was quite an utopia. Shareholders and investors put great pressure on Facebook executives for growth and ad revenues.
How to adapt to these changes?
So what to do now? Let me summarize how brands can utilize their strategies on Facebook under these new circumstances. I put down 7 watch-outs:
1- Organic reach is over, orient yourself. Adapt your relationship marketing efforts.
2- The fans you thought you have are not yours. Admit it. They are users of social networks with all user data. Look for alternatives.
3- It is not about “publishing” any more. Stop posting a lot of contents. Facebook doesn’t want to be a publisher. Do not think that people will always see what you post.
4- Focus on creativity. Avoid overwhelming and pointless ordinary content work. Content managers are overload to prepare hundreds of contents which are reaching 1% of your audience. This is not right. Give them space to craft less but more creative, quality and relevant content or various content projects.
5- Allocate “always on” media budget and optimize. Don’t make unpaid posts. It is waste of time, energy and effort. Use relevant Facebook ads and optimize them real-time. Observe community preferences and behaviors and adjust your contents & ad plan accordingly.
6- Brand advocates will find you. It is still very important to have your brand presence in Facebook. The real dynamo of your brand’s voice, the advocates, will remain to search you. Find you on Facebook. Make sure your page is always on and engaging.
7- Build customer services on Facebook. It is not about pointless publishing. But it is always about customer services, added value services and online presence. So prepare widgets, apps or functions on Facebook for your customers. Integrate your business needs into it. They will come and engage with it.
To conclude, online community management efforts are not about posting any more. It is more complicated. Get used to the new dynamics of social networking sites and adapt your social strategies.
What is next?
Lots of brands put these social networks, mainly Facebook, as the center of their online community efforts. However I must say this is going to change. Brands need to put efforts to create a value around relationship marketing in a way it can control data, behavior, reach and experience. And this is only possible to move to the stage of brand owned platforms: branded communities.
This is an alternative approach for building online communites comparing to social networking sites. I will write about it in a next blog post.