Facebook Makes You Pay – Here’s a Counter Move

Facebook Changed The Rules, Again!

Seems something is always changing with Facebook.  These social media changes can break your heart, but that is the way it is online.  Facebook Makes You Pay

So what’s different now?

If you haven’t already noticed, Facebook has refined its organic search to encourage you, I and anyone else on Facebook to purchase ads in order to reach their fans.

The net result of Facebook’s move is that you may have already experienced a decline in the number of your fans who are seeing your updates – approximately a 20% decline according to some.

According to a Facebook representative:

“We’re getting to a place where because more people are sharing more things, the best way to get your stuff seen if you’re a business is to pay for it,”

You can read more of the details of this change in this Ad Age piece and in this TechCrunch article.

The bottom line is if you want more of your fans to see your updates, you’ll have to purchase Facebook ads.

This Shouldn’t Be a Surprise

As soon as Facebook went IPO, the handwriting was on the wall.  It was going to have to figure out how to make money to keep Wall Street and investors happy and that’s what this step does.  This will be so for Twitter and LinkedIn.

I know plenty of people who feel this isn’t fair.  They’ve worked hard to capture fans and resent that they have to ‘pay’ to reach them.

Good point, but the reality is Facebook, just like any other business listed on the stock exchange including Twitter and LinkedIn, is a business and just as you want to make money in your business, so must Facebook.

The real question you need to ask is how you’re going to deal with this situation.

Why Not Throw in the Towel on Facebook? 

Here are a few reasons why you may not want to give up on Facebook.

1.  Your audience is there and the number one rule of marketing is you have to play your audience hangs out.  If your audience is active on Facebook, then it makes sense to stay there.

2.  According to Facebook’s promotional material, the number of Page fans will still matter.  Research shows that ads without a ‘social context” don’t fair as well as those with a social context.  In other words, current fans are more attuned to your brand will be more likely to see your ad and take action.

3.  Also, paying for Facebook advertising to reach your fans will be less expensive than reaching out to non-fans.

How To Counter Facebook’s Move?

As you’ve been told for years, you need to capture and move your fans, followers and connections onto your email subscriber list.  You OWN your subscriber list and no one can force you to pay to reach them.  Your email subscriber list is also where you can create a more direct and personal bond and far more effective than social media.

Now, you have the proof that you need to make LIST BUILDING A PRIORITY!

Buying Facebook ads makes sense when you’re selling something.  You buy an ad in hopes of making a return from those that purchase. And buying ads can make sense if you’re in an acquisition mode and want more fans, more likes or more subscribers.

But often what you post to Facebook isn’t about making money or acquiring.  It’s photos of your products or its third-party content you’re sharing because you believe it will be of interest or benefit to your fans.  It doesn’t make sense to pay for ads for this type of update.

If you’ve been using Facebook or any other social media platform as your primary hub and NOT your website or your email subscriber list and your audience is on Facebook, then you need to start capturing your fans NOW.

Your Counter Move

1.  If you haven’t already, create a Facebook tab application that allows your fans to sign-up to your email subscriber database.

2.  Add a compelling free offer to encourage your Facebook fans to optin to your email subscriber database.

3.  Communicate with your Facebook fans. Make them aware of these changes within Facebook. Don’t use your communications to complain about Facebook’s move. 

4.  Inform your fans that you still want to share great content and ideas with them and that the best way to do that will be for them to subscribe to your email list. That way they won’t miss anything. And, don’t forget to mention your compelling offer as a “thank you” for signing-up.

5.  Give them a link to your Facebook tab with the email optin or a link to a subscriber optin page on your website.

6.  Create FB updates to drive your Facebook fans and new visitors to optin to your email list and don’t forget to update your Facebook links sending visitors to your email optin tab.  

7.  If need be, consider the purchase of some Facebook ads to reach more of your fans with your message  If so, go slow and steady. Don’t try to reach all of them at once.

Results? 

How many of your fans will sign-up?

Like all communications, it depends on how well you position your request, the attractiveness of your offer and how connected you are with your fans. And it will require repeated attempts to move the bulk of your fans over to your email list.

You’ll have to follow-through on your promise in delivering great email content.  It may also mean that you will have to increase the times you email your subscribers.

The bottom line is if you plan to continue to use Facebook in your marketing, you need to shift your strategy and use it to feed your email subscriber base.

Your Turn

What do you think of Facebook’s changes? 

What steps are you going to take to counter this move?  

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Sheila Hibbard

Sheila Hibbard takes the fluff, hype and confusion out of marketing and social media. She provides small business owners with straight forward, no nonsense marketing guidance and techniques that produce results based on her 35 plus years in advertising, communications, research, strategic planning and social media. Author of Marketing Online Made Simple - WHO.

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