Facebook To Brands: Scale In Social Isn’t Free

Facebook scale in social isn't freeOn the heels of major announcements including Timeline for Pages and revamped advertising, Facebook has an important message for marketers. In exchange for doubling a brand’s investment in advertising and content, Facebook assures that a marketer will reach a large share of the fan base.

In plain speak? Scale in social isn’t free.

The announcement came with a number of recommendations, including Facebook’s suggestion “that marketers reorganize themselves around social,” according to AdAge. The skeptic in me says “No, duh. Of course that’s what they’d advise.”

More specifically, Facebook recommends companies create a position that oversees social across the organization, as well as a pages team that’s completely dedicated to Facebook. That’s interesting. Many of the clients with whom we work are just getting their heads around dedicating positions solely to social in general – convincing them to dedicate a body to Facebook alone, much less a team – that’ll be a cinch [/sarcasm font].

The recommendations don’t stop there. In addition to recommending a change in approach to Facebook marketing, Facebook is also pushing new terminology for its advertising, instead suggesting that marketers refer to ads as ‘stories.’ Is anyone else sick of “brand storytelling” as a catch phrase? The thing that’s most ironic, at least to me, is that marketing and PR are, at their very cores, both all about brand storytelling, pretty much since the beginning of time. This isn’t new ground we’re breaking, people. We’re just integrating digital channels into our overall brand messaging. C’mon with the hype.

Yet the real question is whether companies and marketers will spend more on advertising. After all, one of the initial appeals of Facebook as a marketing tool (especially for small businesses) is that it’s purportedly free, excluding, of course, the time and resources needed to establish and maintain a Facebook presence. And advertising is really what it’s all about, isn’t it?

In an effort to sweeten the advertising pot, Facebook has created a Reach Generator tool that, according to AdAge, “will let marketers buy all the reach they want. Priced according to the size of a brand’s fan base, the tool is designed to take a piece of content and amplify its reach by resurfacing it as an ad.”

Facebook already uses the EdgeRank algorithm to help determine content visibility. The majority of a brand’s content is weeded out by this algorithm, diminishing the effectiveness of the Facebook marketing strategy. With Reach Generator, however, a brand might see an increase in exposure of up to 75 percent, creating a compelling argument for a higher Facebook advertising investment.

Given the many Facebook advertising changes recently announced, it’s no surprise that Facebook expects increased support from marketers. The transition of ads to stories, as well as the introduction of mobile, premium and log-off ads, indicate that Facebook is making a tangible commitment to advertising, which will only truly be effective if brands and businesses buy into the platform.

What do you think? Will this influence your decision to buy ads stories?

Image by 401K via Creative Commons

  • http://www.facebook.com/davevandewalle Dave Van de Walle

    I’ve been knee-deep in the “Facebook Timeline for Small Businesses” muck for the past week. And it, frankly, blows puppy chow.

    From that standpoint, I’m even more pissed about the “Storytelling” stuff. Try walking in to the new coffee shop on the corner and ask them if they’re prepared to start telling stories to get people in the door. They’ll look at you like you’re from Mars.

    Great post. Thanks for sharing your views…spot on.

  • http://twitter.com/allenmireles Allen Mireles

    I noticed an LA news channel last week promoting a contest on Facebook and asking viewers to “like” the page in order to enter the contest. It occurred to me that many, many businesses and organizations stand to get “spanked” because they aren’t paying attention to the revised terms of service for pages. Add to that the need to think through how they will work with the new timeline format (which I suspect they are also not doing), the changes in advertising (oops I mean storytelling) and this latest round of Facebook changes for business should be interesting to watch unfold. 

    I share your belief that business (certainly small business) will refuse to dedicate a person to Facebook, especially since results may apear even less impressive for those companies that are not thinking through how to make the most of the changes. Oy.

  • Anonymous

    LOL at the “oops I mean storytelling” comment Allen! And yes, as you’ve written about on several occasions, paying attention to TOS well, it’s kind of a big deal. Sigh.

    We know, for a fact (you and I), that small to mid-sized companies will not devote a body to social media, much less solely to Facebook, and it will be interesting to watch what transpires in the coming months. Oy is right.

  • Anonymous

    Thanks Dave. I think that where people are missing the boat is that marketing has ALWAYS been about storytelling. So to treat this as if it’s a brand new, “aha” moment is ridiculous. What I ask the coffee shop next door is whether or not they want to use the internet to sell more stuff to more people. Usually, they say yes.

  • Nancy Cawley Jean

    Well that’s a shame. Money talks, even in the social media world. This doesn’t play out well for small businesses with small budgets. Thanks for another informative post, Miss Shelly!

  • Anonymous

    Thanks Nancy. And as an aside, WHAT a treat it was to see you in Austin recently! So happy our paths crossed. When are we going to get you to write a guest post for the V3 blog? We’d love to have you!

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