Over the past few years, many firms have realized the advantage of a well-planned social media strategy. The reach and pervasiveness of social media makes it a valuable component of an effective, marketing campaign. Facebook led the charge as individuals quickly adopted the platform.
Facebook literally changed the use of the word “friend” from a noun to a verb.
However, the question now being asked is critical for any small business, “Did Facebook sellout?”
Note: This article was originally published in the Louisville Bar Association’s Bar Briefs (March 2018, Page 17).
In the early days, it was relatively easy to simply post a comment or article and watch with utter excitement as the information garnered “likes” and “shares” from people seemingly everywhere. That usually included many people you didn’t even know. Thus, the effective reach of a Facebook post made it a valuable marketing tool.
Now the environment is changing. It’s become increasingly difficult to consistently achieve those high numbers. That once incredible “organic” exposure on Facebook is decreasing. What’s changed?
As a publicly traded company, Facebook has aggressively begun to monetize its platform. In other words, if you want to achieve significant exposure, you’re going to have to pay for it via Facebook ads and other strategies. This has led to the aforementioned question, “Did Facebook sellout?”
The old adage “Nothing’s free” has definitely impacted law firms, individual attorneys and other small businesses. Let me be clear, social media (including Facebook) remains a solid option. There are multiple ways to leverage the Facebook platform, as long as you understand your objectives.
I highly recommend social media strategies for most of my clients.
A key reason to the decline in organic results on social media is simple. Increasingly, more businesses are realizing the value of online marketing, so the pool is getting crowded. Breaking through the noise will continue to challenge even the most savvy marketers.
Today, if you really want to leverage the reach of your Facebook posts, you should consider buying Facebook ads to promote your content pieces.
Buying Facebook Ads
Creating an ad budget for Facebook is relatively simple. Research is showing that video ads tend to perform better than simple text-based ads. The good news is both formats cost the same. You don’t have to pay a premium for a video ad. If you’ve read any of my articles or blogs over the past several years, you already know I’m a major proponent of incorporating videos into your marketing campaign.
In recent weeks, several of my clients have been pleasantly surprised by the performance of their Facebook ads. Let me give you a quick explanation of why buying ads is a more strategic way of marketing:
- Relying on organic reach is untargeted. There really isn’t a strategy in simply throwing content over the wall and hoping it goes viral. You’re depending on other people’s engagement to achieve your desired effect.
- Buying ads allows you to specifically target demographics including age, gender, job titles, interests and geographic location. You can basically buy the exposure you want/need for your campaign. It’s not a guarantee. There are many other factors at play. Ads help you to get the exposure you actually want. Conversion (getting the target market to act in an intended manor) is still up to the strength and effectiveness of the message you’re trying to convey.
Nonetheless, even if you don’t buy a Facebook ad for each post (and you shouldn’t anyway), several well-placed ads can draw people back to your Facebook page where they’ll be able to see other posts and information. Ideally, your Facebook page will also lead them back to your website where more substantive information resides.
As with most other marketing tools, if used independently, the results will be lackluster. The key is to develop a coordinated campaign integrating the information formats, types of promotion and placement.
You can decide how best to answer the “selling out” question for yourself. It’s often a matter of perspective. The way I view it comes down to this: Whatever Facebook is doing, they’re selling. At the end of the day, Facebook’s stockholders like the way that sounds. Guess we’d better get used to it.