Last week Mark Zuckerberg made a huge announcement, one that is likely to have very big ramifications for any business that uses Facebook as a way to reach more customers. It was such a big announcement that Facebook’s stock took a big dive as investors tried to get their heads around what it meant for the social media behemoth. The plan is simple - make our social media feeds more about our friends and family.
The driving force behind the change is Facebook’s desire to bring back more meaningful social interactions to the platform. Over the past couple of years (and particularly through the American election), Zuckerberg has faced increasing complaints that Facebook was causing more social harm than it did good. Besides social media addiction, the platform’s algorithm was mainly serving us up content that confirmed our previously held viewpoints. That wasn’t what Facebook was created to do, and with this latest announcement, they are trying to make our newsfeed far more positive and personal to our actual daily lives.
But what does it mean to businesses? Well, that’s the bad news. Because the newsfeed will be shifting from a focus on ‘topics’ and ‘relevant content’ to ‘meaningful social interactions’, it’s highly likely that a business page’s organic reach will decrease. We believe the emphasis will become less about topics and engagement on page posts, and more about how those posts are shared amongst your friend group. So where currently, if someone who likes cars likes a post, the post might get shown to someone else random who likes cars, in the future, it’ll be more about those posts being shared amongst friend groups. The organic Facebook game definitely just got harder for businesses.
The bigger unknown will be how this newsfeed change affects sponsored content/advertising on the platform. Given Facebook will want to stay profitable, it seems likely that where companies could get great organic reach previously, now they may need to focus their efforts into paid advertising and sponsored posts. The hardest thing to pinpoint right now is how those sponsored posts will be displayed. Will they stick to the ‘relevant content’ policy, or will there also be an element of the new ‘social engagement’ approach applied to the advertising as well?
As the change rolls out we’ll be keeping a close eye on it, but it’s fair to say that this is a major shift in the online advertising world. By making this change now Facebook hopes to become more relevant and important to it’s users – which may mean that it becomes a more powerful tool for advertisers…or it could mean a huge hit for business engagement. At the end of the day it’s businesses that pay the salaries at Facebook, so our view is that businesses natural reach will drop, but their advertising reach will stay steady…but let's just watch this space.
Tagging Products on Facebook
There has been a lot of chatter recently about the rise and rise of platforms like SnapChat with the younger generation, and that perhaps Facebook might be on the way out. This has obviously led to a lot of companies questioning whether they should be putting focus and effort into running campaigns on the likes of Facebook – perhaps thinking they should be jumping to the cooler, newer platforms.
While it’s a valid thought process, and something to look into, some recent statistics should give small businesses in particular real comfort that Facebook should still be one of their first port of calls for social media posting and advertising. More importantly – it’s actually grown by more the last year than any year since 2012 (17%). Add in that your Facebook adverts can also run on Instagram and it remains the easiest and most effective social media platform for a small business to advertise on.
Why the continued growth? In our view it’s down to Facebook being the best channel for a range of different media types – video, pictures, text and web links. In that regard it also makes it really powerful as a search engine optimisation tool for your website. By cleverly sharing website links and blog posts, you can help with that search juice.
At the end of the day it all comes down to what platform suits your company. Instagram might be spot on if you’re in food or fashion, or SnapChat could have serious appeal if you are running events. All in all though, Facebook remains a strong starting point for small business, and if you haven’t utilised it for your business yet – you might want to think about it.
Graphs and images from Tech Crunch. To read their more in depth look at the stats - click on this link.
Advertising in the modern day
I recently read a fantastic article in the NZ Herald espousing the view that Sky TV is dying and it needs to change it's business model to stay relevant. That's a viewpoint I think alot of New Zealander's believe is true - high prices with limited options isn't a model that works in the current consumer marketplace...it's why Uber stuck it to taxi's and it's why companies like Sky are facing serious challenges from Netflix and the like. It's the new normal and established companies are having to re-invent both their business model and the way they sell themselves. If they are smart they push ahead of the pack - but if they don't embrace change, they can really suffer. The question is...if Sky TV is flailing and struggling - what 'older' companies are making the most of this new media world? We are sure there are plenty out there, but the big winner we have seen of late is Vodafone.
Vodafone is a bit of a monolith in the telecommunications space. They were one of the first companies to enter the mobile world in NZ, but with disrupters like 2Degrees coming along, they now sit in that 'established' business zone which can see a company become stale quickly. Over the last few years they've spent a fair amount of marketing budget aiming to be 'cool' - having cars drift around a course to show how good their 3G coverage is for example - but that's not the marketing that's caught my eye. It's the way they have leveraged off their sponsorship of both the All Blacks and Emirates Team New Zealand that has really shown the value of their digital media teams.
Let's get this straight - leveraging off sponsorship isn't necessarily the easiest sell. How much value is your logo on a boat or on a rugby jersey really going to generate by itself? Sure, you'll get a few more eyeballs on the brand, and that might increase sales, but the real skill of a marketing team will be turning that sponsorship into something engaging and relevant without completely breaking the bank...and I think Vodafone has hit the nail on the head. As a sponsor of Emirates Team New Zealand, the Vodafone team was immediately faced with a tough prospect. Sky TV (that quickly fading giant I mentioned earlier) has the rights to the America's Cup. Their penny pinching business model has meant a limited number of kiwis have access to watch the racing, and those that do, have to listen to the American commentary. Enter ETNZ, Vodafone and the other sponsors of the team who have forked out for Peter Lester and Martin Tasker (qualified sailing commentators) to be embedded with the team during their time in Bermuda. Every day pre and post race the reporters go live on Facebook for 20 minutes chatting to team members and giving some real insight into an event that definitely needs an explanation to most of the public. Of course, Martin wears the obligatory Vodafone hat, and just like that the company has incredible, unique and immediate content engaging kiwis and sports fans. Thousands watch those videos every day and they really have tapped into the power of the Facebook live video function. Unsurprisingly, Vodafone has also done similar with the Lions Tour - creating the "Rugby Roadie" which follows a Lions supporter through the entire tour. In fact if you go have a look at Vodafone's page right now it's video after video relating to ETNZ and the All Blacks (with a tiny sprinkling of product pushing). The New Zealand feel good factor couldn't be higher - and most importantly it's fresh, original and exclusive content. In some ways this telecommunications company is beating Sky TV in terms of media coverage of these two huge events - without having to purchase any screening rights...or even any conventional media advertising space.
The big question is how can smaller businesses learn from these campaigns by Vodafone and implement some of the ideas in their own marketing. Obviously Vodafone has stacks of cash to throw around, and we can't all hire a sailing commentator and sponsor the National rugby team! But removing those high dollar signs, there are a few things all businesses can learn in this new media world:
These are pretty simple lessons that most people reading this will already be implementing, but it's always good for a reminder. Credit where credit is due, and I'm personally really thankful for some of the coverage Vodafone is giving these events - hopefully we can all take a page out of their books to push our businesses forward.
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