No one spends more time studying the social space than Lori Lewis. Of late, she’s been fixated on what may be happening on the most popular social platform of them all – Facebook. While we know that “secondary” social platforms can be valuable depending on your target audience, Facebook is always at the center of the conversation. Today, Lori takes off on a topic that is near and dear to all of us in radio. – FJ
Lately, there has been a lot of speculation about Facebook ending its “free lunch” for brands. Some observers strongly believe the “organic (free) reach” for companies (like radio stations) will decrease to less than 1% (or to no free reach at all).
And while Facebook hasn’t directly addressed these rumors (at the time this memo was written), there is a piece they published last year that speaks volumes about where they may be headed. It’s called “Generating Business Results On Facebook.”
After paying a fee (not even their sales “brochures” are free) of $8 to download and read it, the feelings that I often share with clients was confirmed:
In this guide, they talk about how content is increasing at a faster rate than people's ability to consume it. Therefore, Facebook expects organic (free) distribution of status updates to gradually decline. And in a not so subtle way, they suggest that brands would be wise to start thinking about what a social strategy would look like in an environment with no organic/free reach.
That is, all paid.
Facebook clearly wants you to start looking at their platform as a way to make paid advertising more effective. More and more, it is moving away from being the free distribution channel that first attracted radio to it in the first place.
And maybe this is a good thing. I’ve said for years that Facebook is not a mass advertising platform where you can spam your fans and not pay a dime for the privilege. Instead, it’s an opportunity to showcase your brand’s values, prove its importance in your fans’ “social lives,” and serve your audience, one person at a time.
Facebook is a public company – they have investors to answer to. It shouldn’t shock us if the free pass on Facebook inevitably runs dry at some point down the road.
The other lesson from this is something we have talked about since the beginning – we don’t own Facebook – we rent it. Mark Zuckerberg is the “landlord” and he can change the rules anytime he likes. And maybe he just has.
So, right now for radio station and personality brands, we would be wise to pay more attention to how our social communications “feel” through the eyes of fans. What are we doing to stand out?
The good news for all of us is that our new Techsurvey10 provides deep information about Facebook, what consumers value, along with other secondary social networks that matter – by format and specific brand. In order to more effectively use social, we need to understand how it is perceived by the people who spend the most amount of time there.
It starts with going beyond applying what works on our air in a space where the human element is the driver. Social is not about gaming people. It’s about giving them a voice, making them feel like they matter and then in return – reaping their loyalty because you make them feel seen.
It also has a lot to do with simply acknowledging others there – making it a point to take the time to let fans know that every person counts. It is fundamental, and it is the part of Facebook that emotionally connects us to others.
The space we have socially is limited.
How can we make the best of it? Or as Facebook puts it, how do we “publish ‘thumb-worthy’ content in the News Feed?” I have offered our clients many ways to do this and we work together as a team to hack our way through this.
And while many suggestions sound easy, it couldn’t be more challenging.
Facebook is forcing brands to up their game on the platform. There’s a skill set required in order to be effective on Facebook and it has nothing to do with finding the funniest memes. The idea of handing off posting and comments to interns or people who spend a lot of time on Facebook has run its course.
Given the waning value of “organic/free reach,” getting help and assistance from a pro has never been more important.
That’s because it's not about what we want to say socially, but about delivering what fans want to hear, coming at content from their point of view, and personalizing acknowledgement.
Hacking is a word Mark Zuckerberg uses often but his reference is positive. It's about fighting for your product and doing what needs to be done in the face of today's disruption and modernization, a never-ending quest to keep brands in the hands of consumers.
And if you’re serious about being a social brand, you should also be hacking your way along, on behalf of your station every day – developing fundamentals that make you unforgettable.
If we’re going to be truly effective with Facebook moving forward, we’re going to have to stop treating it like a hobby or an afterthought – and bring our A games.