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Jared Hamilton
From: Jared Hamilton
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JD Rucker

JD Rucker Founder

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There's No Longer a Doubt: Facebook is Making Free Marketing on Pages Less Powerful

Facebook Angle

In hindsight, it’s easy to see that it was only a matter of time. Facebook has been such an amazing marketing tool for savvy dealers for a couple of years now, allowing effort and proper strategy to circumvent spending money on the platform. If a dealer worked hard and applied the proper techniques, they could perpetuate a formidable marketing strategy that helped with branding, drove traffic, and sparked engagement.

Facebook fixed that last month. Page administrators started noticing their statistics fading. In some reports, the drops were dramatic, chopped down to a third or less exposure of what was happening before. I almost wrote about it then but decided to wait to see one of Facebook’s infamous corrections. Surely, there would be outrage over them forcing businesses to pay in order to get exposure.

Facebook Promote PostsThere was, to some extent. Many sites took notice. However, the “outrage” was limited as there was no real sympathy from users. It didn’t noticeably affect them. If anything, it helped to clean up their Facebook news feed to allow fewer business posts to appear. More images of nephew Timmy sliding into third base wasn’t such a bad thing, so Facebook is continuing with the current EdgeRank settings. Moreover, there have been suggestions and recommendations on various blogs that say users should start spending more money on it.

I was one of them.

This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Facebook definitely needs to right-size their pricing; pages with a low number of fans can be promoted inexpensively, but once you start getting into a larger fan base, the promotion costs go up tremendously. If they can make adjustments to their pricing, it’s only fair that they should make money for being a marketing platform.

Still, it’s annoying. It’s a bait and switch, regardless of whether that was the original intention or not. They hooked a lot of businesses into relying on engagement, activity, and quality content. They then pulled the rug out from under then and are holding the eyeballs of fans hostage. If you want to be seen, you have to pay up.

I cannot fault them for doing what they have to do to make their many investors happy. This is a business. They’ve provided a tremendous service that has struggled to make the money to justify both the size and price. Still, it changes the way that those of us in the social media marketing industry must calculate for Facebook. Strategies that are strictly organic have been devalued.

We’ll see how it’s working out during next quarter’s reports, but it’s a safe bet that this is the direction they’re heading. Businesses got snookered a bit, but not too badly. It’s just time to adjust.

Brent Albrecht
JD,good post, I think many of us are watching Facebook's changes closely. This is one of the inherent disadvantages to marketing within a closed system - you can build all the fans you want on Facebook, but they are never completely "your fans" as your ability to communicate with them will always be controlled by Facebook, and they can change the rules anytime - as it is "their system". Much different than the web in general, where your website is your environment to control, or with email marketing, where your email subscribers belong to you. Of course Facebook never pretended it was something it was not, we knew it was their playground their rules from day one, so can't fault them for that. The good news, is that today, we are seeing better ROI than ever before on Facebook, even with promoted posts and edgerank, etc. I believe we see better ROI on FB than any other social site at the moment, but as you said, we are all watching...maybe the philosophy should be "Make hay why the sun shines"
Rob Leslie
Brent, I feel like you stole the words right out of my mouth regarding not "owning" your fans while Facebook controls the platform. Loss of access to those fans is a risk we all take when we leverage third-party marketing platforms like social media. Better to go in with eyes wide open right from the start than to be caught off guard by it later on. Can I ask how you're measuring Facebook ROI, Brent?
JD Rucker
Absolutely. As I said, we knew it was only a matter of time.
JD Rucker
I'd like to hear Brent's (and any else's) measurement system as well. The one that I've seen that is most effective is the "I've got something for you" approach. When a car is sold and while they're waiting for F&I, the salesperson says those magic words and pulls out an envelope. If they say, "Yes", he/she asks them to make sure on their mobile device because they get their first oil change for free. If they say, "No", they ask them to do it. They take note of the response and the dealership has found that as many as a dozen people a month (about 5% of total sales) were already fans on Facebook. Another couple of dozen become fans right there and then. Of course, they would have gotten the first oil change anyway (they've been giving them away since before the internet) but it's a good way to both track and increase the follows.
Bryan Armstrong
I still use the "text to like" feature of FB that not only has your Customer like your page, but subscribe to updates. ;-)

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