Why paying to increase your reach on Facebook is not all bad news

BY SIMON ENSOR, MANAGING DIRECTOR OF YELLOWBALL

Following our recent post, 5 Reasons Facebook is not Working for your Business - and How to Fix itYellowball Managing Director Simon Ensor, tackles the question of Facebook Ads: to pay, or not to pay.

Social media marketing is a relatively new concept but has now become a staple ingredient of many business’ marketing mix.

However, like a young child, social media marketing is changing at an alarming rate.

In its incredibly short life over the last few years the amount of tools available to social marketers has increased significantly along with the size of the companies providing these platforms. (Don’t worry, this will make sense...) 

So how has social media marketing changed and why does this relate to the size of each network?

Let’s focus on Facebook:

IPO’s change businesses forever

I’m sure even Mark Zuckerberg could not have envisaged the evolution and growth of Facebook over the past 11 years.

Facebook’s initial $100 billion valuation for their IPO was scoffed at by many. Fingers were pointed at Goldman Sachs for an inflated price with suspicions of a quick hit for shareholders at the time.

However, the value has since doubled to over $200 billion which in anybody’s language is a rather considerable amount of money.

However, as always happens, lot of money results in lots of pressure.

What started out as a pipedream and quickly evolved from a popular social network to one of the most valuable companies in the world…. and public companies face intense pressure from their shareholders and board.

In short, these people want a return on their money and as a result Facebook has to generate enough revenue to justify not only its initial valuation but also its market price.

This is the key point: revenue generation becomes an overruling aim post-IPO and has a direct effect on how brands can reach their potential customers through the platform.

Image Credit: Jason McELweenie

Image Credit: Jason McELweenie

A lack of reach

There are a couple of major factors (and many more) that have resulted in quickly decreasing reach for Facebook organic posts: 

  • A frankly ridiculous amount of content competing to be featured in your news feeds means that not everything can be displayed.

  • An opportunity for Facebook to create a market through which revenue can be generated to appease shareholders

Ogilvy & Mather released a report stating that organic reach for brands was between 12-16% in 2013 and fell to less than 6% in 2014.

Reports suggest that organic reach for brands with large followings is now at less than 2%. Drastic changes indeed!

At first this lack of reach creates significant entry barriers for new brands looking to increase their following, although this applies to profiles already following your brand so the outlook is fairly bleak. 

Paying to restore your reach

This might seem like you are bowing down to the might of Facebook... Although creating exceptional content that increases affinity and engagement should be your number one priority, paying to advertise your content is the equivalent of the boost you get from a mushroom on Mario Kart to win the race.

Furthermore, whilst organic posts can be targeted to certain locations, Facebook’s advertising platform allows the accurate segmentation of demographics so that specific content can be pushed to the right people.

Considering the painfully small organic reach that brands attain on Facebook, paying is certainly a very viable option. Yes, popular or viral content should naturally increase your reach but view this decrease in organic reach for brands as an initial inertia faced by your content.

Social advertising is the necessary power needed to overcome that initial inertia.

Also, due to its relative infancy, social media advertising is relatively cheap and as such, smaller businesses do not have to have deep pockets in order to increase their reach dramatically.

From our perspective, if you are devoting your own resources into producing social media marketing content or are paying a third party to manage your campaign already, the additional spend is negligible and can turbo charge the effort and/or budget already being expended on social.

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Simon Ensor is Managing Director of award-winning creative consultancy, Yellowball. Simon peviously worked in SEO and Web Design. You can find Yellowball on Twitter @weareyellowball and Facebook