Wednesday, November 19, 2014

The Decline of Facebook Civilization, Part 2

We lived through the first wave of the crisis that is the decline of the Facebook reach for brand posts. “Reachpocalypse” as Jay Baer called it here. We all freaked out as we watched our posts barely reach any of our "Like" audience. We cursed Facebook everywhere we could...posts, blogs, Tweets, etc. You remember that right? Well, get ready to do it all over again...
On Friday, Facebook announced that they will be greatly reducing overly promotional page posts on news feeds (read their statement here). This is likely going to bring many brands' posts down to zero reach. They say there's certain criteria that makes up a post that is "too promotional" (only pushing people to buy or enter a contest with no context or reusing exact ad copy). It will be interesting to see what makes it through. Likely, this is the end of free posting for brands. We’re going to have to pay for ads now to get our content seen.
Facebook is saying this is based on what their users want. However, if they really asked users what they want, they'd probably say they want less bad posts regardless if it's a brand or friends/family (yes, thank you for showing yet another photo of what you're about to eat). 

Taking off my marketing hat for a minute, because I'm a user too, I don’t mind seeing posts from brands I like. In fact, I like seeing their posts much more than any Facebook ads. Do I like it better when they’re useful and/or fun rather than salesy? Of course. Are there brands that I’ve liked on Facebook that I don’t want to see their posts? Again, yes. Can't I just unlike the brands that I don't want to see content from? Yes, but laziness and/or procrastination usually take hold here. 
What I’d like as a user is for Facebook to give me (and all of us) control over what we see. I’ve said it before: If I like a brand, have something pop up that I click “yes” or “no” on if I want to see posts from the brand in my newsfeed. Then, give brands visibility into who clicks “no”. That info would be very valuable to a brand. Imagine if you could have a list of those who liked your brand but opted out of receiving your posts! (Looks like I put my marketing hat back on a couple of sentences ago.)  
But let's face it...that's not happening. But this further decline is. There is one potential benefit that may come from it.  While a lot of the Facebook content from brands is really good, there’s an awful lot that just isn’t. A lot of companies post content for the sake of posting content. If we all have to pay for what we want to post, we’re going to think more carefully about what we put out there. Gone will be the “Oh crap, it’s 3pm and I still haven’t posted anything today!" Paying for ads forces brands to create their Facebook strategy (if they haven’t yet) and to make sure each post sticks to that strategy. You don’t want to pay for an ad that doesn’t get you closer to your goals. So, users' feeds may be de-cluttered of low quality content (from brands...not much you can do about the friend that always posts their food photos). Win-win, I say...except for the paying for the ad part. 
We all knew this was coming. And, it won’t stop with Facebook. Guess who owns Instagram? You’ve already heard the rumors that Twitter will be implementing algorithms to their feed. Just go down the line of your favorite social media platforms. There are really no different options or solutions than there were when the decline first started. See Jay Baer’s article that I referenced earlier for his four options. And, as Joe Pulizzi has said many times in blogs, presentations and This Old Marketing: Stop building your branded content on rented land!
How much have you been effected so far by the Facebook decline? What have you done to compensate? What do you plan to do in the future? Please discuss in the comments below.
Thanks for reading and if you like this post, please share it with your marketing friends!

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