I Was Going To Post This On Facebook - But I Want You To See It

Author: James Bischoff on 05/02/2014

It started slowly, with minor declines in reach. You assumed it was, simply, the result of content that missed your target market. Not the end of the world, you adjusted, you verified your insights, and you double-checked your target demographics and optimal post strategies based on analytics. Still no change. So you triple checked, questioning everything now. Content that received multiple likes and shares and facilitated meaningful conversation just a few short weeks ago is now going essentially unseen, and the timing couldn’t be worse. You finally broke through in explaining that social media engagement rates are infinitely more important than the number of ‘likes’ you have. You thought the hard part was over and you would be able to report on meaningful social media return-on-relationship. What you would now give to just buy a few likes, have your client look at little if anything else, and think you knocked it out of the park (never questioning the relevance of someone in Bangladesh ‘liking’ your brand).

Does this sound familiar? If you are a digital marketer managing a business page on Facebook you have surely read a lot in recent months about the changes Facebook has been making to its algorithm. It has been portrayed as nothing short of a social media apocalypse. As a professional, and not just someone looking to get famous sharing their oh-so-hilarious cat memes, you likely turned to some source of reputable industry experts to figure out what you were doing wrong. The good news was that it was happening to everyone. The bad news, it was happening to everyone!

In short, you learned that the days of all expansive organic reach and free content branding are numbered, if not already gone forever and the only way to make sure your fans see your content is to pay Facebook. That collective scream you hear? Oh, that’s just countless social media “ninjas/warlocks/gurus/rockstars” taking to their preferred social platform and cursing Facebook for making this unfathomable (yet extremely foreseeable) change to the way things work. If you have already read an article about this topic there is a 99% chance it is “How to Cheat Facebook’s Algorithm Change” or “Let’s Stop Using Facebook and Move to ___.” I never thought I’d be a 1percenter but here we go!

If you have been a social media professional for more than one week I’d guarantee 3 things:

  1. You’ve been accused of getting paid just to play on Facebook and Twitter
  2. You’ve been told that social media is just a trend
  3. You’ve struggled to justify ROI with concrete numbers

1 and 2 are inconvenient at worst. However, number 3 is a real issue. At the end of the day you have to be able to prove your value, regardless of your position within a company.

I read countless industry articles and blogs about what Facebook is doing because I want to be good at my job and I want my clients to see real change when I take over their social campaigns. After turning to industry leaders what I saw from all of these ‘experts’ was alarming. What everyone seems to have missed about this cataclysmic shift should be obvious- Facebook just did you a favor! Facebook all but eliminated the 3 things I just mentioned.

With the changes Facebook is making, social media just took a huge leap forward towards being a widely accepted and legitimized form of marketing. The SMM environment more closely resembles ‘traditional marketing’ today than it has at any point in the history of the Internet. Facebook will soon be nothing more than a digital billboard; and just like the billboard you pass on the highway driving to work everyday, someone had to pay to place that advertisement. And you know what? The team that worked to create and market that billboard ad doesn’t face the same line of questioning you do. There are no “billboards are just a trend” or “all you do is make big posters.” More importantly, there’s also no way that team can tell you exactly how many people saw the billboard, when, where they went after seeing it, how long they stayed there, how many times they saw it, or if seeing it directly led to a sale.

As a social media manager that last sentence should really resonate. That last sentence is your meal ticket. The tools at our disposal allow us to report ROI on a level that ‘traditional’ marketers could only ever dream of. Don’t get me wrong, if you have some ridiculous social media title and have been getting paid to put together memes and buying likes for your clients this is definitely not a good thing for you. But if you are a smart marketer doing your research, reading blogs, staying up to date, and able to report what matters you don’t have to worry. You are the cream that will rise to the top. Facebook WILL make money from this, other outlets WILL see this, and they WILL follow their lead, it is only a matter of time.