Guest Post by Tim Eyre
Change is coming quick to the world of social media, and the implications for online businesses are significant.
It's been nearly impossible to avoid the news about Facebook's financial struggles this year, beginning just days after their initial public offering on the stock market in May plummeted from a share value of $38 into the $20s, eventually dipping below $20 before steadying at just over half its initial value.
Facebook's immediate response has been to increase the monetization of its service. The initial appeal of the social media giant was both its ease of use and the ability to reach thousands of followers for free. Businesses that wanted a little bit extra could pay for sidebar ads that reached even more people.
Since their IPO, however, Facebook's EdgeRank algorithm that ranks posts in a users' news feed has undergone a few tweaks. Beginning last spring, businesses can pay to promote a post, ensuring that it's viewed by more users than the dismal 12 to 16 percent of followers most status updates currently reach.
That decision took another sharp turn this October, when the pay-to-promote was extended to a focus group of regular, non-business users. Although price points vary, most reports indicate that $7 is the going rate during this trial program to bump a post up (and extend its lifespan) in followers' and friends' news feeds.
Finally, that chance also coincided with the announcement of 'Suggested Posts,' an option for businesses that allows them to pay to reach the news feeds of users who have yet to like their page and may have no apparent connection to them.
This is all being done to compensate for the growing number of users accessing Facebook through mobile devices. Unlike a computer's larger screen, there is less screen 'real estate' on a phone or tablet to incorporate sidebar ads. By placing marketing material directly into news feeds, it reaches users from wherever they're accessing their account.
So what do these developments mean for the average online business and social media marketer? More than ever, posts and updates need to be engaging. As you move forward with your social marketing plan, remember these tips and pointers:
Emphasize the Relationship
Marketing on social media requires a back-and-forth conversation. In traditional marketing, much of the work was done on the front end: You design a commercial or visual advertisement, figure out a plan to get it out to the world, and then let it go to work for you. With social media, your initial post is just the start.
Now that online businesses can pay to promote a post, the temptation may be there to just fork over the cash and trust that your post will get where it needs to go, when in fact, it will be even more important to respond to comments and keep the conversation flowing as you reach a larger audience than before.
Be More Interesting Than Ever
It's too early to tell if the added commercialization of news feeds will drive users away and spark a wave of 'unlikes' to company pages, so the best approach is to not be part of the problem. Because you're paying to promote a post (and even if you're not), treat each update with the attitude that it's the most exciting, engaging thing you've ever put on Facebook. And if it's not, don't post it!
You want your updates to spread on their own, inspiring shares, likes, and comments. Don't think for a second that paying will substitute for the effectiveness of a post that spreads naturally on its own.
Illustrate Your Points
A good Facebook post has a great photo to accompany it. Think of the example of Pinterest -- the site has taken off based on the strength of the pictures themselves, where the accompanying words are just an afterthought. Think of your Facebook posts in the same way, and take the time to find a compelling image that can illustrate each of your updates.
Motivate Your Audience
As more and more businesses begin to utilized Suggested and Sponsored Posts on Facebook, those that give followers an incentive will drive the most traffic to their pages. Photo contests, giveaways, and loyalty programs are an excellent way to generate extra views and visits. Online services like PunchTab and Perkville can help an online business create and moderate contests and inspire loyalty.
Are you ready for the changing scope of social media marketing?
Does the monetization of the Facebook experience concern or excite you with its potential for your company?
Tim Eyre helps residential and business customers who use storage units when they don't have enough storage space on their own property. Tim's company - Extra Space Storage - has locations from coast to coast, including a Fontana storage units.