Facebook’s new rules, and what they mean for businesses
By Jagdish Singh Malhi September 26, 2014
- The four selling points of FB strategy no longer apply
- How you use FB must change because organic reach is dead
THERE is a 95% chance you’re using Facebook for business the wrong way, but who can blame you?
You don’t know what you don’t know. I read that line somewhere but was recently reminded of it when I watched Zero Dark Thirty for the second time.
So let’s start with what you do know, what the ninjas and gurus have been spewing and what your boss thinks is right:
1) Fan base size matters: Wrong!
2) Content we post must be engaging: Not really.
3) Engagement rates need to be measured: Pffft!
4) We need a campaign: Ha ha ha ha!
Now that I’m done laughing, let’s get into why these four points are not getting you any closer to your KPIs or key performance indicators (assuming it’s growing your business).
But first, let me take you through how Facebook has evolved in terms of organic reach so that you have some context when I get into the four points.
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What business is Facebook in? Pleasing shareholders. What do shareholders care about? Return on investment (ROI). How can Facebook increase ROI year-on-year? More advertising (ad) units, higher ad rates, and decreasing organic reach.
Decreasing. Organic. Reach. This is where the fun starts. Organic reach for Facebook Pages have been dropping year-on-year and currently averages less than 1% for most industries.
This means that if you have 100,000 fans on your FB Page, a thousand [corrected] or fewer of your fans are seeing each piece of content you publish.
Facebook will have you believe that is because more people are ‘Liking’ more Pages so they can’t show your fans everything you publish because it’ll be considered spam.
I don’t disagree, but let’s get real: That’s not the real reason it is reducing organic reach. I’m wholeheartedly for that move because as a user, I don’t care about the 1,000 pages or so I’ve ‘Liked’ over the last four years … except for my clients’ pages, that is.
As a brand, you’d be tempted to complain. Some brands have ‘left’ Facebook in protest. Articles come out each week about teens and kids moving away from Facebook (they’re not, by the way).
Keep in mind that until today Facebook has not charged you any fee for using its service, and you only pay if you want reach. Like Google – which you spend insane money on without complaining.
You. Pay. For. Reach. This is the new mantra. From 2008 until 2013, the four points above held true because organic reach was much higher, which made sense for brands to invest in anything that will drive engagement rates because our understanding was the higher engagement rates go, the more reach you get.
We’ve always been working for reach, now the methods must change because organic reach is DEAD.
Now let’s get to the four points.
1) Fan base size matters
It doesn’t anymore because organic reach is dead. You don’t need to build a fan base to get your message out. All you need is to invest in advertising units based on your objectives. Learn how to use Power Editor – 90% of marketers don’t know how powerful this tool is.
Read more about the different ad units on Facebook here: https://www.facebook.com/business/ads-guide/
2) Content we post must be engaging
Not really, because most brands reach less than 1% of their fan base. I say ‘not really’ because what you want is reach. For reach, you need to promote or boost your post – which requires money, so what you really need is money, short copy and a nice image.
Stop making engagement rates your measurement of success; instead learn how to optimise your ads to reduce your advertising cost.
Some will argue that great content will still get you mileage without ads and my response would be: Good luck.
I’m not saying you should put up your brand’s print ad or not pay attention to the content that goes up – please make sure your content is high quality.
I’m just saying high quality content isn’t going to get you massive reach anymore.
3) Engagement rates need to be measured
You should know why this isn’t important anymore by now.
4) We need a campaign
Yeah, if you want to throw away money, why not? That’ll get you fans. If you buy ads. But we’ve covered the fact that fan base sizes don’t matter anymore.
What does a campaign do for you? Create ‘buzz’ and ‘virality’? Ads will do that for you.
Tell the world about your new product or campaign? Ads will do that for you.
And guess what? Ads don’t take weeks to complete, don’t require committee approvals, or get you more complaints when the app has bugs.
By the way, you need to stop making Facebook apps because for most countries, Malaysia included, more than 50% of users use Facebook on their smartphone.
And guess what? Facebook apps don’t work through the Facebook mobile app. Oops.
In case this was TL;DR (too long; didn’t read), here’s the key takeaway: Being a Facebook advertising guru is more important than anything else you’re doing.
PS: Stop buying Facebook ads from resellers because they rip you off. You can buy direct from Facebook. Just invest time in learning how to do it.
My next article will be about powerful Facebook advertising units most marketers don’t know about. Please feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section below.
Jagdish Singh Malhi is a marketing and e-commerce professional with the luxury of having been on the client and agency side.
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