About Those Social Followings You Paid to Build Up…

December 5, 2014

By Michael Berberich

As recently as a year ago, Facebook was a platform on which brands could reach thousands (sometimes millions) of their “fans” for free, and as a result, companies spent significant funds accumulating “likes.” Then, last December, Facebook announced that it was changing its algorithm, and that fewer fans would be exposed to each piece of content posted on a Facebook Fan Page. Marketers soon realized that by “fewer,” the social network meant “10 percent or less of a page’s following.” There was, of course, still a way for brands to reach all of the fans they worked so hard to get: pay Facebook for the privilege. Some brands re-focused their energy toward other social channels like Twitter and Instagram, but marketers would be well-served to take a step back and realize that they don’t “own” their social audiences.

Facebook had a legitimate reason for the change in policy: as more brands established a presence on the platform, news feeds became inundated with advertising and threatened to drive off consumers. Marketers can expect other platforms to follow suit when the problem of ad oversaturation occurs, and it will, eventually, on ever social network. This is why the Content Marketing Institute recommends that, instead of incentivizing social “likes” and “follows,” brands should use their social channels to drive consumers to subscribe to their own “hub,” whether that’s a newsletter, blog, or loyalty program. Subscribers have been shown to purchase more items, consider higher-level product offerings, and share brand news more often than non-subscribers, and they comprise a group that the brand can reach out to and engage on its own terms. TD Ameritrade reported that its thinkMoney magazine subscribers traded five times as much on the platform than non-subscribers, so all of the brand’s social media efforts are focused on driving traffic to the magazine, not the other way around.

The CMI offers insights into how brands can use content marketing to build their own social network here: Five Key Essentials to Epic Content Marketing.

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