Facebook shut down the “Like Economy” in December 2013.
You do remember the like economy: businesses large and small would encourage – or even bribe with promotions – their customers and prospects to “like” their Branded Facebook Page. Going forward businesses could then keep in touch with their fans through clever posts, content and promotions that would appear in the communities’ news feed and timeline. The content would have to stay good or the brand page might slip in priority or be de-Liked, of course…but there was the hope of a continuing link to a community.
But in December Facebook made another change to its news feed algorithm (the algorithm formerly known as “Edgerank”) which dramatically lowered the visibility of branded page posts. According to a study by Ignite Media a post by a brand’s Facebook page could expect to reach 16% of its fans a year early; after the algorithm change that figure seems to be 2.5%!
Of course Facebook has a solution for the problem caused by the algorithm change: paid posts! An article in Ad Age praised Facebook for being more open about the algorithm change this time than the change last year, noting that the last time it modified the feed and de-emphasized brand pages it had denied any effort to promote ads. The Ad Age article goes on to say that under the new scheme “the main reason to acquire fans isn’t to build a free distribution channel for content; it’s to make future Facebook ads work better. ‘Your brand can fully benefit from having fans when most of your ads show social context, which increases advertising effectiveness and efficiency'”
A consultant who works with social causes told me that he has advised his clients to immediately cease efforts to increase FB page likes. He noted that he views the primary benefit of Likes going forward is to grant paid access to the fans’ friends with an implied endorsement. Since most of his clients are not comfortable with that approach, he sees no reason to promote likes.
At least on Facebook, organic alone is not going to be sufficient for brands. It will be a combination of paid and organic efforts. The increased importance of promoted posts along with the demand for more and better content has led Entrepreneur Magazine to predict that social media with be more expensive this year.
This leaves me pondering some questions about social media marketing going forward:
- Is the purpose for organic social media marketing going forward primarily to COMPLEMENT paid posts and ads, as well as SEO efforts?
- Will small businesses be priced out of SMM?
- Does the decline of organic combine with a newly proclaimed “Content Shock” (Mark Schaefer) to fundamentally alter what we mean by social media marketing?
I SEEK YOUR THOUGHTS!
[For more information I would direct you to the four articles linked in the post.]