Many companies, and most all Engage121 clients, have invested lots of creativity, money and time building a Facebook fan base. And, most of us would agree that our Facebook fans are a key marketing asset – just like our client lists or opt-in email lists.
But, who actually “owns” our Facebook fans?
A knee jerk reaction might be, “we do!” The argument might be that our company has expended resources to build a community possessing an affinity for our offering. We try to nurture that affinity through engaging content and offers and we have earned the right to access that community for our individual business purposes.
Well, the argument may be sound. But, the conclusion is probably incorrect. In fact, for most purposes, Facebook owns our fans and we merely rent access to them.
Remember: our fans are also Facebook’s users!
Ad Age recently reported , and we have discussed on this blog, that Facebook is implementing a tollgate controlling access by brands to its users – aka, our fans.
Facebook’s message to brands is clear: “Social at scale will not be free.”
OK, we get it. Not free. We have to pay to access our fans, but how much, and for how much access?
We have some numbers to consider:
“[Facebook’s] pitch is that just 16% of fans currently see organic content posted by brands: Most of it is weeded out by Facebook’s EdgeRank algorithm, designed to enhance users’ experience by putting only the most relevant content in their news feeds. Using the paid ad tool could increase a brand’s exposure percentage to as high as 75%.”
So, if you want content to reach just 6 of every 100 of your Facebook fans, continue posting – a lot – and eventually you will reach all your fans. Not consistently. And, certainly not the message you want, when you want.
To extend our reach to all fans – and Facebook suggests that “all” means about 75% – we need to recognize that it is Facebook that controls access to its users. Er, our fans. So, we need to pay a toll. And, as I have said before, depending on the toll, I think that is fair to both Facebook and brands.
But, that begs the question – how much is the toll? Our answer: very reasonable.
A couple of weeks ago we announced several enhancements to our application. We posted the announcement on Facebook and established a “Sponsored Story” promotion budget of $5.00 per day. That, we figure was probably in in the budget of most every Engage121 client!
Our results were impressive. Typically our posts have a reach of about 200. Our sponsored post ad had a reach of 422,847, and, over the past month, has received 75 clicks at a cost of $56.07.
Our bottom line is that Facebook has changed its business model, and if we are to use Facebook effectively, we need to change our practices. We recommend that all posts to Facebook should be promoted as Sponsored Stories, even at a minimal budget. Otherwise, we will be reaching only a small fraction of our intended audience. And, that makes no sense.
Our fans are Facebook’s users. We don’t have exclusive ownership of our fans any more than Facebook owns our client lists.
We need to adjust our practices to reflect Facebook’s new reality.