THE CUT

APRIL 2014
FACING UP TO FACEBOOK

SIGN UP FOR THE CUT

Like it or not, Facebook is no longer the "free" community mecca that marketers with a guerrilla mentality fervently embraced years ago. As of March 2014, only a meager 1 in 20 of your Facebook fans are likely to see your precious posts. To reach the other 19, you'll have to pay the Zuckerberg. So what's a thrifty and socially savvy tactician to do now? Read on.

Reevaluate Your Facebook Investment

Managing a brand Facebook presence was never free — there have always been time-of-staff costs related to content development, comment monitoring and responding. Add to these the costs for sophisticated conversation management and analytics tools and you're looking at thousands a year. Depending on the size of your fan base and their engagement rates, it may be time to scale back.

Optimize Your Facebook Posts for Sharing

Assuming you already have a sizeable fan base that is worth supporting, then you have little choice but to continue to "feed the beast" with timely content. That said, break your content into buckets and monitor which type inspires the most sharing (versus Likes or Comments). By publishing your most sharable content, you'll expand your organic reach as far as it can go.

Increase Emphasis on Customer Service

For most established brands, walking away from Facebook is not an option because customers leave invaluable comments, complaints and even suggestions for improvement on a daily basis. So rather than looking at Facebook as a marketing machine, recalibrate your content with current customers in mind while listening and responding to comments with renewed veracity.

Engage Your Fans Elsewhere

Brands targeting teens have already shifted away from Facebook to other social platforms like Twitter, Instagram and SnapChat. Brands targeting women are pinning their hopes on Pinterest, seeking to take advantage of this platform's unique ability to drive site traffic, especially for retailers, food and travel companies. And tech and music brands are still finding fans on Google+, albeit intermittently.

Build Your Own Communities

While all of the alternative networks are seemingly "free" today, a bit of foresight suggests that they too will become "pay to play" platforms in the near future. So just like in the pre-Facebook days, smart brands will once again seek to build their own communities, forums and/or hangouts in which they can nurture and embrace their own fans 24/7 without an interfering algorithm.

Or, Just Pay Up

While seeking "free" organic reach via social media is always meritorious, don't confuse this argument with a disapproval of paid Facebook advertising. On the contrary, Facebook is arguably the most potent paid channel ever, delivering extraordinarily well-targeted impressions that rival Google in impact and effectiveness. This helps explain why the world's largest packaged good marketers keep increasing their Facebook media budgets. So at least in this case, you do get what you pay for.

Final note: Given the rapid pace of change in social media, don't be surprised if we come back at you with fresh Renegade thinking in the weeks and months ahead.

If this content seems familiar, that's because you read a longer version first on the SmartBrief blog.

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