Friday, 12 December 2014

‘Pay to play’ in social media is the new normal but marketing success still relies on content: expert

‘Pay to play’ in social media is the new normal but marketing success still relies on content: expert
Wave Swinger at Adventure Park in Geelong. Photo: John Mangan
This year is the year Facebook transitioned to a pay-to-play model but marketers who think they can jam the news feed with ads will pay dearly.
It’s a new chapter in the social marketing playbook and while Facebook leads the charge, other networks will follow with their version of pay to play.
From January 2015, Facebook will control the volume of overly promotional posts that users see from brands. Organic posts that solely push people to buy a product or install an app, enter a promotion or re-use the same content from ads will be penalised.
Essentially, Facebook is saying that brands need to pay if they want to publish ads. This is being seen as the final nail in the coffin of organic (i.e. unpaid) distribution
Facebook has said that between 1500 and 15,000 potential stories could appear each time someone logs on. News feed filters and controls are in place therefore to show people the content ‘that is most relevant to them’.
Many commentators are critical of Facebook’s tactics. They argue that the company has lured marketers in with a quick hit, got them hooked and then turned off the supply. Others are claiming that Facebook is set to become nothing more than a repository for display ads.
These perspectives generate compelling headlines but they’re not particularly instructive for marketers who are invested in the platform.
The truth is that Facebook has been very clear about its motives. It’s not only about revenue, as many assert, it’s about the end user experience. They need people to keep coming back, and so do the Australian brands that are so heavily reliant on Facebook as their social marketing channel.
Facebook’s mission is to “show people the things they want to see”. People aren’t using Facebook for the ads; they’re there for the stories. Paying for reach on any platform has never been a substitute for good content.
So while marketing budgets may be ruffled, marketers should remember it’s the experience and content that end users seek. The end of organic reach doesn’t impact that.
Affinity, advocacy, action; these outcomes of engagement are not things that can be bought. They are interactions that are earned.
Yet most brands still don’t seem to be striving for a truly social experience.
Research undertaken by Brightpoint Digital into the consumer electronics industry highlights the fact that even big brands are still pushing heavily promotional product messaging into social feeds.
The study of more than 2000 brand posts over a three-month period averaged out at an engagement rate per post of 0.16 per cent (and this includes paid promotion).
What we’re seeing here is the coming of age of social/Facebook marketing.
Paid media will perform the role of driving targeted discovery to maximise the opportunity for a social response, which should come in the form of likes, comments, and most importantly, shares. The path to better returns from social marketing investments is better social content.
Content is still the critical determinant of success in social media. The landscape has changed but the fundamental marketing challenge presented by social media remains the same.

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