I was not one of the people who was excited when Facebook went public. I wasn’t about to buy stock (maybe because I remember MySpace?), and I didn’t like the prospects as a user, either—from a personal perspective or as a marketer.
So I wasn’t really surprised to hear that Facebook has finally admitted what we’ve long seen coming: If you want to reach your followers on Facebook, you’re going to have to pay for the privilege. Even if you already paid to acquire the fans.
Personally, I find this disappointing as a user. I follow pages on Facebook because I want to see their updates. I follow NPR and my favorite bloggers because I want their updates. I follow Warby Parker because I want to see when they release a new line. In fact, just this weekend, I updated my New Yorker subscription thanks to a Facebook status update the magazine posted with a great deal. I don’t only want to see the Facebook status updates of the brand pages that can afford to pay for reach. I want to see them all—or most of them, anyway.
But what does this organic reach problem mean for marketers? First, it means we’re going to have to stop thinking of social media as a “free marketing channel.” You’re going to have to spend in order to be successful in social, whether it’s on good creative so you have knockout visual content or whether it’s on social media ads. Honestly, it’s probably both.
Second, it means it’s more important than ever to diversify your social presence. Brands that think they can simply throw up a Facebook page and check off the “social media” box are going to be sorry.
But there is hope. Take this little factoid and chew on it for a bit: Pinterest drives more traffic to publishers than LinkedIn, Twitter and Reddit—combined.