TL;DR: It’s tempting to think of Facebook as a platform for free business promotion. But in 2015, successful Facebook marketers understand it’s much more useful with a different mindset.
A year or so ago, I was providing content for a small e-commerce business in a rising industry. A few pieces went “viral” and got a lot of traction in that audience.
Sounds great, right? Ultimately, though, the social media strategy failed.
It wasn’t due to my content (which, in my humble-but-accurate-opinion, was great).
Instead, it was due to the business owner not being willing to accept the fact Facebook marketing has changed.
I’ll explain exactly why his strategy failed, and how you can avoid the same mistake, in a minute.
But first, here’s what you need to know about modern social media marketing.
The Lure (and Lie) of Free Promotion
Businesses of all sizes flocked to Facebook when social media marketing hit the mainstream. The promise of free promotion – all social media cost was time, they thought – was too enticing to resist.
Unfortunately, when someone thinks of something as “free”, it’s hard to get them to change their thinking and accept they have to pay for it now. (Just think of the outcry over some airlines charging for carryon baggage.)
Facebook (like all social media platforms) was never really “free”; it cost time, at the least. Good Facebook strategies also cost content.
Now, there’s another Facebook marketing cost: promotion. The potential for organic reach that lured so many businesses to the platform has now diminished. It is no longer wise to count on organic reach in Facebook marketing; instead, organic reach could almost be considered a bonus in addition to paid traffic.
The truth is, businesses need to pay to get their Facebook posts seen by their audience. (Even reaching everyone who has liked a page costs – that’s what that “Boost Post” button is for.)
Complicating matters further, good content marketing strategies aren’t all about selling. That means your audience needs to see posts that deliver value to them without “hard” selling. When they’ve seen enough of these and have a relationship of trust with your brand, then your business can start the “hard” selling.
But that has to be earned. Nowadays, a good Facebook campaign requires at minimum:
- Great content (which has to be written by yourself, something you may not have time to do, or outsourced to someone like me)
- Audience research (having a strong Facebook page helps with this)
- Ad spending to promote the post to your audience (including those who have already liked your page – you’ll only reach 6-11% of your likes organically)
Avoiding Facebook Failure in 2015
Back to the story about my former client. This guy wasn’t willing to pay to promote or boost his business’s posts. As organic reach declined at the end of 2013, his brand’s posts were seen by fewer and fewer people.
While his page isn’t dead, its growth has peaked. It has about the same number of followers now (March 2015) as it did a year ago. Instead of growing by 40,000 followers in a year (like it did in 2013), it’s stagnate.
There’s an easy fix if the brand owner wants to grow his Facebook page: promote great content.
But there’s an even more important question to ask: should he be using Facebook at all? I’m not sure how many sales this guy is getting from his social media. Those 70,000-or-so likes might just be what I call “vanity likes”, likes that don’t lead to any profits and thus serve no purpose other than to satisfy your vanity.
There’s a better way to do social media marketing, if you need to do social media marketing at all.
I’ll discuss this in the TL;DR Digital Marketing Report, coming soon.