Pay to play on Facebook

This article was first published by iowabusinessjournals.com

Social media is the siren song for small businesses. It seems so egalitarian; put a post on any platform and all your followers see it (and if you’re lucky that post will recruit many new followers). Well the truth is every social platform has its advertising downfalls and as they all transition to publicly traded companies, their mission turns from connecting users to turning profits; i.e. businesses must pay for views.

Case in point; Facebook just publicly announced it's plan to alter the master algorithm that populates users news feeds so they see more posts from their friends and fewer posts from pages or businesses. For years Facebook has had an algorithmic governor on page views. It didn’t matter if a person liked your business on the service, more likely than not your posts reached a mysteriously calculated few of your supporters. This new corporate shift away from page content seems great for friends and family casually sharing pictures and status updates, but for pages it basically means the days of users organically finding your content is through and you better up your Facebook advertising budget.

Facebook is not alone; both Twitter and Instagram have done away with the purely chronological, unfiltered feed. The social free lunch is officially dead and it's likely only large companies will continue to see the same social engagement to which they become accustomed. Small businesses are pretty much left to scramble for extra social spending dollars and hope their future posts land in front of prospective customers. Is it time to abandon ship on digital spending?

No, this is definitely not a social tsunami foreshadowing the end of days for your social media game. Think of Facebook shrewd move as an opportunity to examine where you should spend your dollars if you’re forced too online. Small businesses advertising is all about local right? Well some of the cheapest and most consumer friendly digital outlets happen to be local media. Yes print, TV, and radio advertising have existed for decades, but on top of it every one of these outlets has an online platform as well. Think of your social posts as skipping stones in the ocean and advertising with local media as throwing a boulder in a small pond. One barely gets noticed, the other causes ripples with the potential to affect the entire ecosystem.

Free social media posting is never going to go away, but the obstacles to being heard in these arenas will never go away and potentially only become more treacherous. Social media is constantly changing to stay relevant; local media isn’t going anywhere.




Patrick Boberg is a central Iowa creative media specialist. For more tech insights, follow him on Twitter @PatBoBomb

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