Market observations that Facebook is reducing organic reach and developers are fleeing the platform is causing quite the buzz. As a digital marketer, whenever you spot a trend like this you have to take note–carefully analyzing the real impact to your own deployed marketing strategies and tactics.
As you wade through the hype and sensationalism inherent in these online buzz storms, it’s critical to set firmly your perspective and interests in the discussion.
Identifying the Bias
A common mistake is misunderstanding the inherent bias baked into the personalities (reporters) kicking up the dust. In the two articles I cited in the opening paragraph you have a social media marketing consultant and a venture capitalist/entrepreneur.
Thinking even briefly about their perspectives makes it obvious why they might have a negative take on recent shifts in Facebook.
Our social media consultant probably generates revenue from clients paying her for the traffic and engagement she generates from Facebook. Her profit is directly impacted by the amount of arbitrage between what she is paid for traffic/engagement and what it cost her to generate that traffic/engagement. So, when Facebook throttles free sources of traffic and engagement, it’s pretty easy to understand why she’s irritated.
Now, let’s look at our venture capitalist/entrepreneur example. These types–and the developer entrepreneurs in their ecosystem–thrive on hacking together fast, cheap, exponential growth. Again, it behooves these kind of folks to have free reign to programmatically engage these enormous networks in an unregulated way.
Now that we understand where our writers are coming from in presenting their opinions, let’s make sure we understand where our own bias should land.
Analyzing Your Position
Clearly understanding your own interests in the debate is important. Ironically, we often disadvantage ourselves by following the herd.
One of the reasons I chose this latest “outrage” at Facebook is because it’s a perfect example of how an elite minority bias can, on its own, misguide your own self-interested perspective.
Think about your own situation as it pertains to social media marketing and Facebook in particular.
Organic social media marketing for brands, large and small, is a grueling endeavor. For most, adopting a marketing plan that includes social media in this form is too expensive in terms of internal or contracted resources for an ROI that sits on a very distant horizon.
The alternative to this is to develop automated ways, using a free API, to harvest social behaviors that get you the same results with less work; the coveted “work smarter not harder” approach. Of course, that, too, can be cost-prohibitive in terms of direct expenses or the time/effort needed to cultivate relevant skillsets for an average business hoping to reach the rich community of customers in these social networks.
The average person–reading frustrated opinions on Facebook’s move to throttle organic reach–is not really impacted; odds are, this unbridled organic reach wasn’t accessible to you and your marketing program in the first place.
However, with this shift–allowing you to pay for reach–it is available for you to use in your marketing strategy.
What’s more, now that Facebook has matured their promoted post and ad platform into in a direct response marketplace, you can analyze it very quickly to see if the ROI works in your business model.
You no longer have to make risky investments in social media consultants and developers on the if-come bet that they will bring floods of traffic and customers. Now you can incrementally pay only for the traffic that actually lands on your website and buy as much as you can handle profitably.
My Personal Bias
Yes. I have an inherent bias, too.
I run a marketing agency. We’re routinely asked to come in flat-footed and deliver immediate results–ultimately measured singularly on the basis of revenue generated by our campaigns.
From my perspective, I’ll pay handsomely for immediacy and quality of traffic that a channel can yield. In a services business model, manual labor and development resources are expensive and often low-returning investments. Unlike social media consultants and software companies, our marketing campaigns are typically of relatively short duration, constantly adjusted in reaction to shifts in our clients’ objectives and marketplaces.
Therefore, I’m relishing the maturation of the Facebook ad platform.
(P.S., I’m also biased by my position as a shareholder of many shares of sub-$25 when investors didn’t believe in the Facebook’s ability to create an effective ad platform. So, nah-nanah-na-nah-nah 🙂
Here’s the punch line, and why I thought it was important to write this somewhat philosophical article: As a marketing professional or business owner, one must carefully analyze micro- and macro-sized shifts in the techniques and platforms one uses to get their results.
While it’s true that ‘everything changes’, successful digital marketing strategies rely on a preparedness to both intellectually challenge and, if circumstances warrant, accept that maxim and then pivot accordingly.
Avoid panicking on the wrong buzz and you can avoid undermining your own success–while taking advantage of the other guy’s jitters.
How about you? How do you analyze marketing trends?