5 Reasons Brands MUST Pay to Play with Facebook

DeathtoStock_Wired6More than one and a half billion people are now active on Facebook. Even if you factor in the 170 million or so fake accounts, that’s still roughly a seventh of the world’s population on a single social platform – more than you could reach in any other single medium. In fact, more people in the U.S. use Facebook every day than tune into the Superbowl.

Whatever you personally think of Facebook, the fact is that it continues to be a powerful platform for reaching the people who matter to your brand. Yet keeping up with the evolution of social platforms and how they surface content to this sea of users can be its own game of whack-a-mole. What was true of Facebook only five years ago – that users would see all the content posted by a brand they had chosen to follow in their feed – is no longer true today.

Which brings us to the tricky business of paying to play with Facebook. As the saying goes, if you don’t pay to use a product, you are probably the product. Facebook understands this more than most, and discovered fairly quickly that it made more sense to charge those who not only benefit most from Facebook’s user data, but also have the ability to pay for it. That group of users is us: the brands and marketers who create pages and cultivate followings.

Here are five reasons why we recommend that brands boost and promote content to get the most out of their Facebook presence today:

  • Your content is being actively suppressed. Facebook suppresses the content on both company and personal pages. Its algorithms now choose which content it deems most worthy and engaging. What this means is that more really is less when it comes to Facebook. Posting one thoughtful, quality and engaging post each day and boosting it may be seen by more of your followers than sixteen “spray and pray” posts like: “Do you like shoes? We like shoes!” And honestly, would you really want to pay $7 to boost that post? Facebook’s algorithm encourages brands and marketers to be more thoughtful about content strategy, and that’s a good thing.
  • Paid content gets priority. Going hand-in-hand with the suppression of content is the surfacing of paid content over non-paid content to users. What this means is that if you post to your followers today, maybe 10% of them will see that post (at best). Whereas your competitor, who pays $5-7 to boost their content, will have it seen by not only their page’s followers, but your target audience too, if they use ad targeting. Over time, this means that the chances of your messages reaching your audience – even those who follow you – may be overwhelmed by paid messages from competitors.
  • Your target customers are overloaded with information. During the infancy of many social platforms (including the internet itself), there wasn’t much content out there to sift through. Finding a few dozen people to follow was difficult (if you’ve forgotten what it’s like to get started on a new platform, try finding folks to follow on Ello). According to Facebook, the average user has about 1,500 status updates and notifications to get through every time they log into Facebook. That’s an astonishing amount of information, and paying to surface your message there is becoming vital to your brand’s visibility.
  • The payto-play format isn’t going anywhere. When Facebook launched and refined its pay-to-play scheme in 2013/14, many brands and social media professionals hoped it wouldn’t last. The truth is that pay-to-play has been incredibly successful for Facebook, and for its users. The prioritization of paid and quality content – as determined by its algorithm, which has over 100,000 weight indicators – has made it easier for users to wade through the mass of information available on the platform. Pay-to-play is here to stay.
  • Quality content will always be king. It’s not all doom and gloom when it comes to paying for content. If you create a piece of thoughtful, valuable, and engaging content that gets your super fans excited, you won’t have to spend as much in paid advertising to boost it to your users. Instead, this will happen organically through likes and shares that indicate to Facebook that your content is something it’s in its best interests to promote because users love it.

Do you have questions about building a thoughtful, engaging, and effective Facebook or general social media strategy? Leave a question in the comments, or contact us. 

 

Kameron Hurley

Kameron Hurley is an award-winning author and advertising copywriter. In addition to creating knock-out content for brands by day, she pens novels and essay collections by night. Hurley's work has appeared in The Atlantic and Popular Science, and she writes regular columns for Locus Magazine.

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