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As social media marketers, we've heard that Facebook is undoubtedly moving towards a 'pay-to-play' model for businesses. But what exactly does that mean? And what exactly does that mean for your brand? It means that Facebook has changed its algorithm to limit the reach of organic content posted by brand pages in an effort to encourage businesses to invest media dollars in paid Facebook advertising and post promotion. Facebook is going head to head in competition with Google to lead in online advertising revenue, which means we can only expect organic reach on the platform to continue to decline as this initiative evolves. That said, the reality is that not every brand has the room in their budget to invest in media dollars on Facebook. So, how do you break through the barriers of this potentially threatening algorithm change with your organic content? Be Real Approximately 63% of consumers say that they are highly annoyed with repeated, generic advertising messages. For Millennials, that percentage is higher. As a result, consumers crave authentic communication and transparent relationships with the brands they love or are interested it. Establish a human voice with your Facebook content. Use the language that your audience uses and responds to. This approach will help you break through the clutter of other annoying posts pushed out by brands who haven't gotten the memo yet and will help you more easily engage in a two-way conversation with your audience. Jump on Real Time Moments Similarly to being real, be relevant. One of the best ways to gain traction with your organic content is to join conversations about viral internet topics that your audience is already discussing and searching on Facebook. When it makes sense, act fast and find ways to naturally insert your brand into these conversations in a fun and interesting manner. When you do this, be sure to use the most popular hashtags and key phrases that your audience is using. Creating real time content shows that you're actively engaged in the Facebook community and culturally relevant conversations, as opposed to simply pumping out evergreen content on a predetermined schedule. Not only will your reach exponentially increase, your audience will appreciate it'leaving them wanting more. It's proven to ring true with our own social media work at AMP Agency. Here are some great examples of other marketers and brands that get it. Like the time that Twix lit a fire under #TheDress debate: And when Arby's asked Pharrell for their hat back during the GRAMMYs: Hey @Pharrell, can we have our hat back? #GRAMMYs ' Arby's (@Arbys) January 27, 2014 Let's not forget about the time Oreo saved the day during the Super Bowl XLVII power outage: Power out? No problem. pic.twitter.com/dnQ7pOgC ' Oreo Cookie (@Oreo) February 4, 2013 Shares, shares, shares When you're relying on organic reach, shares are your best friend. A share extends beyond a like, not only in the expanded reach potential it holds, but also in what it says about the way your audience is engaging with your content. When someone shares your content, they are really saying 'I enjoy or related to this post so much that I wish I had made it myself. I want everyone else to see it and enjoy it as much as I did.'Your ability to relate to your audience is key here. For example When Bud Light read their audience's mind: Or when Forever 21 shared #WordsofWisdom with their millennial audience, 75% of which would like to travel abroad as much as possible: Designing 'sharable'? content is where you'll need to think very critically about the psychographic profile of your target audience. Think to yourself, 'Is this message something that a member of my target audience would actually feel, say, or think themselves and want to share with their friends?'? Also don't forget to ask, 'Does it tie into my brand's core messaging in some way?' It's important not to lose your brand essence or voice in trying to be relatable or funny to gain shares. Use Video Content As Facebook continues to compete with Google owned YouTube to be the number one video uploading and viewing platform, native video content on Facebook has proven to reach nearly double the amount of people that images do, with 65% of that video content being viewed on mobile. Use this to your advantage! Create short, simple yet interesting video content that will engage your audience and let Facebook's video-favoring algorithm do the rest. source: http://www.beet.tv/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/Slide09.jpg Next Steps Now, when planning future budgets, should paid social media get a piece of the pie? Yes, absolutely. But in the meantime, you can experiment with these approaches to optimizing your organic content on Facebook to stay afloat in a 'pay-to-play' world. Your turn: What other strategies have you found to be successful?
From 1987-1997, the FOX television network aired "Married With Children," its most successful live-action sitcom to date. The show chronicled the miserable Al Bundy, a former high school football star turned women's shoe salesman. Ever since Al scored 4 touchdowns in a game for Polk High School, his life went steadily downhill. For Al, work was no relief from his miserable home life, as he would routinely make fun of his customers for his own personal enjoyment. Something tells me that if social networking and local search were around back then, there is no way Al would have been employed at the same shoe store for 11 years. Local search has proven to have a major effect on search engine marketing. For example, the other night I was looking to purchase a new pair of sneakers and I was trying to find shoe stores that I wasn't previously aware of. I did what the majority of people would do; I typed in www.google.com and searched for "boston shoe stores." Out of the 10 search results on the 1st page, 5 of them were local search websites, and the #1 ranking was held by Yelp. Now that the communication of social networking has been combined with local search, word of mouth marketing might as well be renamed "word of viral universe marketing." This should be exciting for many business owners, as they have a new source for free advertising that outreaches the scope of their previous efforts. However, notice I said this should be exciting for "many" business owners. One of the main reasons why it has been difficult to convince many businesses to embrace social media marketing is that the business loses control of its desired message. For business owners not completely comfortable with the ways of the Internet, this can be a scary thought. If a business is a respectable establishment that treats customers with respect, social media should only benefit them. However, if a business makes a habit of shady dealings and rude customer service, you better believe that they will get some horrible reviews from angry customers, which will only lead to horrible "word of viral universe" marketing. Before I started this blog entry I did some research and found that about 1900 people searched the term "boston shoe stores" last month. That means that 1900 people also saw similar results as I did on the 1st page of Google. That also means that up to 1900 people saw the 74 mostly atrocious reviews that a certain Boston shoe store received from the online social universe on Google Places alone. The reviews weren't much better on Yelp either. According to dissatisfied customers, this company's employees have done everything from not honoring returns, to belittling customers, to even flirting with a customer's girlfriend! What would be even sadder is if this company was unaware of the power of this thing called the Internet. In addition to being a respectable establishment, a certain degree of public relations needs to be present for the most effective social media marketing. Instead of trying to hide negative comments and reviews, companies should be trying to embrace them to improve their business. By conversing with customers, businesses are getting on their level and showing they care. That action alone will more than likely make up for any wrong doing the business did in the first place, and ultimately the customer will probably give the business a second chance. Luckily for Al Bundy, his company wasn't forced to embrace social media back in the 80's and 90's. If the real life version of Al Bundy is still selling shoes today, he better keep his wisecrack comments to himself.