The best things in life are not free
The party’s over… For years, businesses and entrepreneurs have been smiling ear to ear over being able to use social media as a “free” form of advertising. Sign up, tell people to like and share your page, fill your feed with advertisements, get sales – the perfect formula, cost free with minimal time spent. If you thought that would last, you’ve been living in a fantasy. Nothing’s free in life, at least not more than temporarily.
It’s Not Your Company
The internet has caused a great deal of confusion and anger from everyday users over the years, because they too have lived under the illusion that everything’s free, and you can do what you want on social sites. “It’s my profile!”, after all. Except that there were clear (okay, maybe not that clear) terms and conditions set forth when they signed up. Of course, nobody reads those.
The result has been complaints over people’s data on the sites being used in ways they don’t approve of, and that’s the issue – they did approve of it by virtue of using the site. It’s the equivalent of going to a restaurant and complaining because you don’t like the dishes they serve. Go somewhere else. Likewise, when you use a social media network – which is owned by a company with their own rules – you inherently agree to their rules. It’s common sense.
The Cost of Business
Now, in the wake of new social media rules concerning advertising, on Facebook in particular, there is an uproar among companies that use them for that purpose about how unfair they are and how we’re being gouged because they’re now charging us. It’s time for us to put on our grown-up pants and realise that there is always a cost to doing business.
If you aren’t familiar with the changes I’m referring to, let me elaborate for a moment. Facebook, the largest social network in terms of both users and advertisers, changed their rules this month so that any posts which are considered advertisements will algorithmically be hidden from followers’ feeds. In other words, if you want to use Facebook for promoting your business you’ll have to buy advertising going forward.
Facebook is a business, after all, and they have to make money to survive and grow just like any other business. When it becomes apparent that a particular feature is widely popular and effective – in this case Facebook ads – the company that offers the service or product is naturally going to look at how to increase revenues from it. That’s what Facebook is doing, and no one can really criticise them for it and remain intellectually honest in the process.
What Do You Do Now?
Well, your business is your business, so you can choose to leave the network altogether as a means of building a client base and increasing revenues if you want. That, however, would be a ridiculous and poor business decision in my humble opinion. You could also try to game the system and bypass the rules, but you’ll lose that game and waste precious time and resources in the process. Algorithms aren’t subjective, and they’ll catch you. Which leaves the third option, paying for ads.
No business can operate without a marketing budget. The issue is how much is allocated to the budget and how those funds are divided among various marketing outlets. So again, it’s time to put on our grown-up pants and realise that Facebook is a viable marketing outlet, if not an essential one. There aren’t too many places where you have a potential audience of 1.3 billion and growing. When you add those numbers to the fact that the targeting mechanisms that Facebook has in place for its advertising are sniper-like in their precision, the only sane decision is to allocate funds to Facebook marketing every month.
Of course, as with all marketing, you may not be an expert in the field and need some help. You may not have even been aware of these changes before reading this. That’s why having a social media manager should also be in your budget, unless you already have one in house. The changes in social media often come quickly and without warning, and if you’re spending money on them you need to be able to stay up to date with those changes.