Why Brands Won’t Get Free Lunch on Facebook in 2015

The Arms Race to capture the most Likes on Facebook has been a complete failure. In fact, starting in January, Facebook is cutting down unpaid promotional material in user news feeds that businesses have posted as status updates (source). This announcement is Facebook’s way of saying that rent is due and it’s time to pay up. If you want your followers to see your promotional posts in 2015, you better set budget aside for Paid Social.

We don’t go on Facebook to buy stuff
It’s taken some time for brands to understand this, but Facebookers aren’t there actively looking to buy your product. We go on Facebook to connect with friends, family and people we’ve met throughout our lifetime.

Customers choose Facebook as the fourth platform to be marketed to with a relevant offer. They prefer email, mail and mutual connection in that order(according to Hubspot’s Social Lifecycle Survey:Consumer Insights to Improve Business survey). Sales do happen, but they are not the primary goal of Facebook as a platform. To stay competitive on Facebook, brands need to entertain, inform and provide service(utility), otherwise their content will quickly disappear from the newsfeed. Many brands are still struggling with monitoring, listening to their customers and responding in a timely manner.

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You need to be on Facebook

Facebook has been a headache with its diminishing organic reach and shaky ROI over the years, so why do we bother with it? Can’t we just get up and leave?

No, says Hubspot’s data. Because your customers are there.

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Increasing number of consumers expect brands to be active on at least three Social Media platforms and Facebook is one of them.
-95% of Millennials expect brands to have a Facebook presence
-87% of Gen X’ers (30- to 44-year-olds)
-70% of those ages 45 to 60 think brands should, at the very least, have a Facebook page(source)
Additionally, being active on social helps your brand sell. 73% of the respondents said that they would be more likely to purchase from a brand that responds on social.

Rent vs Owned Audience (Hat Tip to Avinash)
Increasingly we are seeing the need to build up our OWNED properties. Our websites, our blogs. Properties that we have control of. Properties that won’t diminish in reach because of somebody else’s policy change. Your audience on Twitter and Facebook is RENTED and the landlords can change the rules any time they feel like. Monetizing on your followers has always been Facebook’s endgame, it was just a matter of how and when.

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You can Cry about it OR You can Dance about it
Let’s face it, this isn’t the end of the world. Social media has never really been free. There was always a cost, now you’re just shifting that cost to something that has definitive ROI. You can track clicks, impressions and conversions. All that stuff that you’re used to. Facebook is an advertising platform which provides a highly targeted audience for a great value. In the meantime you can start building out your OWNED properties like your website and blog, just in case the rent becomes too damn high in the future.

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