Effective November 5, 2014, you can no longer acquire fans on Facebook by holding, say, a contest where they have to ‘Like’ the page to participate. Or by running sweepstakes and giving away freebies to random people who ‘like’ your page. (Read the official statement)
“Fan gating” will be forbidden. That means your apps have to be available to anyone – Fans and non-Fans alike. People now have the choice of whether to follow your page or not. And you can no longer rack up the ‘Likes’ count merely by putting your campaign goodies behind a “fan gate”.
What does this mean for us marketers? Time to close shop on Facebook marketing? No campaigns, contests? Well, not quite. As it is with these policy changes, there’s the good, the bad, and the ugly. But also some bright rays of hope.
Now that we can’t simply inflate our page likes with contests and giveaways, we have to seriously look at making followers out of people who actually matter.
This doesn’t mean that we have to stop running Facebook app based campaigns. They still work – just not like before. Without ‘like’ gating, the #1 purpose of contests is no longer to grow the fanbase, but to increase audience engagement and get data about participants (like email addresses) that we can use in other ways.
That’s because Facebook “wants people to like Pages because they want to connect and hear from the business, not because of artificial incentives”. Maybe. But from now on, the focus has got to be on making our pages – our brand experience – attractive enough to net only the most engaged and high-quality followers.
And of course, we should keep engagement up despite the odds. Experimentation is key: post varying content types, with varying post lengths, at different times of the day, more or less often. Mix things up. Keep an eye on your page activity for signs of what works. This will help you wring the most out of Facebook’s now-dismal organic reach.
Tougher lives for those of us just starting to build fan bases. Get ready for uphill battles. Exponential growth in “Likes”? Fuhgedaboutit.
The hub and spoke strategy has never been more relevant than in the face of this. No more quick & easy – if we weren’t doing it before, we need to pour our effort into an owned content platform, and use Facebook simply as a channel for propagation, syndication and qualification.
Take your blog, for example. Build that up, make it your content marketing epicenter, and use social media to broadcast the shockwaves. This way, you remain in control. Bring people to your land – don’t build on others’.
It will be a long, tough climb, but brand presence can and should be centralised outside of Facebook from now on.
We are now totally at the mercy of Facebook’s page promotion ads.
Facebook’s organic reach is all but dead. They want us to spend money on acquiring and engaging with fans. It ultimately boils down to cost per click, and who has the bigger ad budget.
Goliaths would reign. The days of Facebook being the equalizer that lets small companies take on big ones in the marketing game are over.
The Bright Rays of Hope
If you intend to stick with Facebook, and go down the paid media road, then make sure you at least get the most bang per buck. There’s only one way to do that: optimise your ad spending with Facebook’s advanced advertising tools.
Power Editor is a precision-control instrument, specifically designed for advertisers who have numerous campaigns and ads running at any given time. With this, you can vary ads for optimising and target custom audiences.
Custom Audience gives you the flexibility to target your existing audience with customised messages – you can reach out to people who have purchased from your e-commerce website, for instance, or interacted with your mobile app.
And, Facebook Exchange helps you reach people on Facebook based on interests and online behavior. Think of a hotel booking site, showing specific hotel promotion ads to people who had searched for hotel bookings. This kind of targeting can be very accurate and specific, yielding high conversion rates.
Tools like these are now our rays of hope. Master and deploy them well, and maybe you’ll continue to reap some value out of Facebook.
How did you react to Facebook’s announcement? And what will be your next move?