Long long ago, when Mark Zuckerberg was still on his paper-round, I used to make television programmes. Actually that’s not strictly true. I didn’t make them, I used to pick the ones I wanted and somebody else made them. People would watch them on TV and businesses would pay to advertise in the breaks.
Hitler and serial killers were my particular speciality but, you know, a girl needs to make a living.
About 13 years ago, a colleague and I wrote a document about how the internet was going to change how people watched TV. I don’t even thing Youtube had been invented. We would sit in Notting Hill eating breakfast and planning world domination. I think we may have used the words ‘content curator’ somewhere in there.
Most of it has come true. Every single one of us can broadcast round the clock to whoever wants to listen. (Whether everybody should or not is another matter, and I will need far more wine before you hear my opinions on that.) My children watch as much Annoying Orange videos on the iPad (oh to stick him in the Nutribullet) as CBBC on the TV. In a similar vein, I read as many blogs as I do published newspaper articles. We are all publishers, producers and broadcasters now.
Some of the best television I have seen in the past few years have actually been campaigns or content solely created for social media. The line between the programme and the advert has all but disappeared.
As a consumer – we have total democracy and total choice. This causes problems for everyone. There’s just too much choice. Physically and emotionally. Just too much noise.
This is a problem Facebook as been tackling for the last couple of years.
The average number of Facebook friends for someone under 35 (I refuse to use “millennial”) is 250. For my (ahem) slightly older age bracket it’s 200. I have 355. Go me!
There are 1,500 average number of posts that are eligible to appear in a Facebook user’s feed each day. EACH DAY! No wonder I’m tired.
Things still break through. Viral hits still happen but they are take increasing effort. Warm your cockles on this one
When Facebook introduced business pages, this was pure marketing gold. You had a ready audience of potential customers that you could talk to for free and who were more than ready and willing to share you with their friends. With a bit of effort and some warm and tender puppy pictures, you could rule the world.
At the end of 2015 there were more than 50 million businesses are now using Facebook Pages, up from 40 million that April.
Sadly all good things must come to an end.
Like an angry Bob Dylan fan, Facebook users started grumbling that it was ‘too commercial’ – there were too many spammy posts and messages from businesses. Newsfeeds were littered with ‘like this post to win a mattress’ posts. Facebook started clamping down and filtering the number of business page updates people would see. Organic reach began to plummet.
They introduced Edgerank – a super complicated algorithm, to ensure that only the most engaging posts were placed in people’s newsfeeds. Marketers turned into Matthew Broderick in War Games, desperately trying to outwit the machine. As well as measuring who is clicking what, they monitor the language of your posts. Too salesy? You’re out.
The cynics amongst you might say that this was done purely because Facebook wants to make money from advertising. That’s probably true, and you can’t really blame them. They are a business after all – and a successful one. Yesterday they published earnings of $3.69 billion on $17.93 billion in revenue in 2015; revenue was up 44 percent from 2014.
Too much choice has brought us back to the beginning. It is Facebook that now decides what to show its users, just like I used to (although not so charmingly). In between that, businesses can choose to advertise in the ‘breaks’ just like in the olden days. The entry price is lower but it exists all the same.
What does that mean for your business? In this noisy crowded world, as a business, you need a two pronged strategy.
- Be there for your customers
Social Media has now become the prime customer service medium for many businesses. That’s where your customers want to talk to and about you and you need to be there. Encourage your customers to post, prompt them to leave reviews. Listen to them, talk to them.
People haven’t got the time to read everything, see everything, watch everything that they might find interesting or useful. They’re busy. So use your Facebook page to be that filter for them. Post interesting, useful, valuable stuff so that your customers see you as a valuable resource (even if it’s just for puppies).
I look at it the way I shop for clothes. I buy clothes from about 2 shops. I don’t want to spend hours browsing or rifling through rails and rails of stuff. Give me a small shop with limited choice that I know I’ll like, that has been chosen with expertise and care.
But don’t spend your life creating content noone will see. It’s a diminishing return and there is no point plugging away at wonderful content if Facebook is going to keep it to themselves.
- Pay for advertising
If you have a Facebook page – you need to pay to make people to see it. If you don’t have a Facebook page – you need to get one and pay to make people to see it.
The targeting of Facebook ads is truly terrifying (to be discussed in another post) and you’d be foolish to think that your business couldn’t benefit.
I can’t think of a better way to reach exactly who you want to. However your money needs to count. This isn’t a throwaway post – this is an investment that needs your love and care. Decent ideas, decent imagery, decent message.
My largest client over the 6 months as spent over £5,000, my most recent client is dabbling with £50 a month. Both are seeing results among the people who matter to them.
Facebook Advertising Masterclass has replaced my existing Social Media School Facebook course. It covers organic reach but concentrates on advertising, because I genuinely don’t think you can succeed on Facebook without it these days.
If you’d like to know join the workshop, or let me run some advertising campaigns for you, then get in touch.