Is Facebook ripping off brands with Promoted Posts?

Posted by , 28/11/12

facebook marketingThis week, we’ve been mostly enjoying the Facebook debate happening over at Social Media Explorer. The motion: is Facebook blackmailing brands? Speaking for the motion, the rarely shy and retiring founder of SME, Jason Falls, and countering the motion, Kat French proposing that Falls has lost the plot, become a delusional cynic and that Facebook is not blackmailing brands.


Fall’s argument is that Facebook has effectively moved the goalposts on the efficacy of brand pages and Likes for brands. It’s an interesting point. Facebook first positioned itself as a marketing utility, cajoling and enticing brands to reach its vast global audience by creating company pages. Then, in April, it landed a smacker in the face of a stat to every business that had played along with the game – that, on average, only 16 per cent of a brand’s fans actually see each post.


According to Facebook, the best way to be visible on the social network is now to purchase Promoted Posts – albeit at a pretty price that might just help solve Facebook’s valuation issues, some might say.


When a user clicks ‘Like’ on a brand, they are now doing more than showing a fondness for a brand – they are effectively allowing said brand to post content in their own personal news stream. The frequency with which this content is posted is subject to numerous algorithmic variables, which can leave a company feeling out of control and in some cases duped. So, despite the public ‘liking’ your page and opting in to see your content, brands are encouraged to pay to beat 16% visibility rates – hence Falls’ assertion that Facebook is blackmailing brands.


Kat French’s countering view is that Promoted Posts offer an effective means of targeting a selective inbox, much like email software but with a whopper of a list and minus the spam filters. Furthermore, French adds, Facebook offers premium ‘real estate’ free to companies that often don’t bother to set up their own websites, instead uploading unlimited files and photos to their Facebook pages with no web hosting or bandwidth fees.


Our thinking lies somewhere in between the two arguments. Engaging on Facebook is about more than buying ads and sponsored stories that ultimately just clog Facebook users’ news feeds and risk turning them off your brand.


There are no shortcuts to great Facebook marketing, and the bad news is that to catch people’s attention in this ultra-crowded marketplace is something akin to being a genius ie: 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration. Ok, so Facebook marketing isn’t exactly on a par with devising the theory of relativity, but coming up with shareable and compelling content takes a great deal of thought and creativity.


Are you looking for ways to beat Facebook’s measly 16% visibility on posts and don’t know quite where to start? For ideas and strategic advice to incorporate into an effective Facebook marketing plan, call us on 0845 053 6855


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