Why the Facebook news shouldn’t come as a surprise
The Facebook news regarding the News Feed has sparked conversation about the future of brands and publishers on the platform. Amaury Treguer’s not surprised.
Over the years, social platforms, including Facebook, have been giving brands free – or relatively affordable – access to their target audiences. In this latest move, Facebook has simply followed the example set by many of the mobile applications – otherwise known as the ‘freemium model’. Get everyone on board at no cost, hook them in on the benefits, then ramp up the price.
In June 2015, I penned an article for Marketing that suggested the solution to the increased monetisation of social channels was to focus on creating brand-owned social content hubs instead. As it turns out that was timeless advice. In case you missed it, here it is:
Renting social is good, but owning it is even better
As marketers continue to grapple with the ever-changing nature of social platforms, one thing has become clear: the days of vast organic reach on Facebook and other social channels are over. Social platforms continue to evolve their revenue models based on charging marketers rather than users, so brands have to adapt their strategies to survive.
Organic reach on Facebook is dropping month-on-month. In addition to the changes made by Facebook, the sheer number of brands competing for space on users’ News Feeds continues to increase, further reducing brands’ exposure to their audiences. Social platforms also continue to change their agendas and strategic direction without warning. For example, Facebook’s shift towards becoming a video platform and the continued monetisation of Twitter, Instagram and other networks effectively leaves marketers to ‘rent’ space on the platforms rather than ‘own’ it.
Brands are also at the mercy of inexplicable social platform algorithms, that even the platforms can’t explain – who knows what’s next? As a result of the changing social landscape, the very definition of what constitutes an owned channel has changed. Facebook and Twitter’s increased focus on advertising revenues have pushed them into the paid media space, leaving marketers to redefine what owned channels look like for their brands.
It’s important brands don’t leave themselves at the mercy of these ever-changing algorithms and shifting strategies. By developing new channels for their content, marketers can leverage their social assets and extend their digital eco-systems with new owned channels. Blogs are not the only option. Brands are increasingly developing content ‘micro-hubs’ housing aggregated content from their social channels. Snickers and Pepsi have both created successful content hubs, where their communities can go to add, discover, and share content.
Micro-hubs are not without their challenges. Driving traffic to the newly created channels is crucial for success. Using paid media such as Google Adwords and the advanced targeting tools of Facebook and Twitter ads are effective for creating awareness. Using social logins (e.g. Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin) can facilitate sharing and conversation, resulting in increased engagement with the community.
Ultimately, it’s not about the social platforms or a brand’s channel ecosystem, but about creating genuine dialogue. The aim of marketers still needs to be on facilitating conversations – between individuals and between brands and their audiences, wherever they happen. Creating owned channels is an important part of this process and offers brands an insurance policy against the ever-changing social landscape.
3 June, 2015
Almost three years on, this article is as valid as ever and explains why the continued evolution of all social platforms away from brand engagement should not be surprising. I say it’s time for marketers to really think about their own platforms by focusing on the number of interactions and the volume of repeat visitors they can generate.
A social platform should only be utilised as a means to an end, and not an end in itself.
Image copyright Volodymyr Melnyk © 123RF