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What to Do When Your Brand Can't Exactly 'Pay-to-Play' on Facebook

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?

The Holidays ' A Season for Sharing

We've all seen it, a news feed or Twitter stream full of promotional verbiage like: Check out these great deals Click here for this season's best offer Our biggest holiday sale By now, most consumers are numb to this type of marketing speak, which makes cutting through the holiday noise even harder. Yes, we said holiday. Thankfully, the first frost has not made its way to our front yards just yet, but in order to ensure success this holiday season, now is the time to be developing a thoughtful social media strategy and cultivating brand affinity. According to the basic principles of Public Relations, people consume media to fulfill four primary objectives: to be informed, to be entertained, to feel a sense of belonging, and to develop opinions. Social media is no different. Since 1998, research providers, Edison Research and Arbitron have been conducting surveys about how people use the Internet. With the unveiling of their 2012 Social Habit study, 'How Americans Really Use Social Media,'? it seems not much about human nature has changed. The number-one reason Americans polled follow brands online is for sales/discounts/coupons. Other reasons for following include: To stay informed about new products For 'content/ideas" For 'news/information" For  'humorous/entertaining content" While it is no surprise that a consumer's desire to receive discounts and special offers was the top reason for 'liking'? a brand, brands should take notice that users also want to be entertained, and many look to follow brands and share posts that have engaging content. Thus, the secret to standing out on social media this holiday season and beyond is to be entertaining. Get in the holiday spirit by keeping it real. The most successful social brands are those that approach social media like a human interacting with a human; they are transparent, authentic, relevant, and consistent. So how do we roll that into one big ball of entertainment that gets fans, followers, and likers talking? Think outside the box. Here are a few ideas to help you start building your holiday momentum early. Offer advice to common holiday challenges and ask users about their challenges Encourage user-generated content ' what was your best childhood Halloween costume or photo of best Black Friday buy Make use of reality ' encourage users to upload real-time shopping updates, photos of favorite purchases, etc. Encourage new and old customers to review your brand and products ' users rely on other users Social giving ' do it and encourage it ' Share how your brand is giving back to the community and how your brand followers are doing the same Fun contests and giveaways ' everyone loves free stuff, especially when it's a surprise or reward for positive engagement Themed countdowns ' Give users something to look forward to, other than quality time with the family and presents Social media is a channel to help brands pull back the curtain and let customers connect with brands on a more personal level. Holiday social media engagement shouldn't be limited to a few months of flash sales; it should be a year round relationship. Using the holiday season to encourage engagement could also help build bigger engagement overall. It's important to keep in mind that  if you are going to launch something new for holiday that you are able to sustain it throughout the year to yield the greatest benefits. Happy sharing!

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