Where are the fans? This question is probably he most popular one among Community managers when it comes to Facebook organic reach. In deed Facebook discovered with its entry at the stock exchange market that “monetizing” the platform was not a must, it was a need. So in order to make money, the only unavoidable way is to become a media paid platform for companies. The famous Companies pages are not anymore a natural way to communicate between brands and people, it is now just another media channel like TV, Radio or online press/magazines. So there is a cost and a strategy behind every single piece of content you “naturally” see. Welcome to the pay-for-reach era.
Visibility is everything
Social media is an amazing invention. We cannot really say that someone invented social media as it has been a primary activity in every human society since…. Well ever! Probably the Lascaux caves and its amazing paintings represented already the first social sharing of all. In a more contemporary base, this is how wikipedia defines Social Media: “Social media refers to interaction among people in which they create, share, and/or exchange information and ideas in virtual communities and networks. Andreas Kaplan and Michael Haenlein define social media as a group of Internet-based applications that build on the ideological and technological foundations of Web 2.0, and that allow the creation and exchange of user-generated content. Furthermore, social media depend on mobile and web-based technologies to create highly interactive platforms through which individuals and communities share, co-create, discuss, and modify user-generated content.”
This looks very interesting as finally people had a complete self-expression human connectivity and most of the time all for free. And the more we develop easy ways to support this need for intense communication, the more we became a 2.0 society. Ultra-connectivity is a fact and every year we attend to the unavoidable evolution of internet. After the invention of WiFi and bluetooth, came the smartphone and other tablets. With these came the brilliant idea of “internet everywhere” and “mobile first”. Concepts that built tje reputation of several companies. Now we talk more about “the internet of things” like if we were a modern version of animists. Like if we would talk about the “soul of things”.
In a hyper-communication era, companies needed to evolve and also adapt their way of doing things. The internet of companies became a new topic which changed considerably the way of operating. In deed, as internet became a strong communication channel, all activities around went from IT to Marketing in less than 10 years.
So it was and it is,more than never, crucial for companies to express themselves and get in touch with their
Customers via the web. And for being able to communicate with them, companies need to be visible online. With more than 99 billion websites and 100 new social networks being created every day, visibility became the key. How can we deliver a consistent, qualitative and interesting (for who?) message in the middle of all the information available online?
It is a fact, in 2013 there were more content created for online than existent content in the entire human history. Internet opened the doors of User-content-generation. Today anyone can be a content producer, publisher and distributor. So the messages are diluted into a over-crowded information network. 100 years ago, there were only a couple of reliable source of information. Only a couple of brands proposing a couple of products. Today, we have the feeling that everyone is starting a new business in his garage and that information can be found everywhere, every-time and mostly for free.
How can a company deliver a message among all these? Well, since visibility became an issue, another interesting concept raised from the marketing box: Reach. Everything is about the reach!
Before the multimedia era reach would be determined by the number of kilometers or miles separating a source of “something” and its receiver. It could be in a military operation as well as in radio waves. Today reach is something else. Reach is the total number of people who are exposed to your message either in traditional online media, like BBC.com or in social media like Facebook. At the beginning of the social revolution, companies had already their online advertising campaigns in place, either with display campaigns or with SEM. So we were talking about impressions and Click-through-rates. Social media brought a initial revolution as suddenly companies could extend their owned territory, the website, to something that would bring them more contacts with super-customers that we will call fans. And the biggest extension of all: Facebook with more than 1.26 billion users.
And suddenly the model changed
By offering the biggest communication platform of all times, Facebook became a multimedia machine, from pictures and texts to videos and online games. Everybody in the connected world has a Facebook account or almost. With its 757 million active users a day, Facebook stores more than 300 Petabytes of user information. These requires huge storage possibilities and mega-servers. And here is what is changing the face of “Facebook”.
In 2008, total costs for Facebook servers were already at 50 million$ a year. End of 2012, the number climbed to 606 million$. So you can imagine that Marc Zuckerberg is a good customer for the electric power company! So how to maintain the company figures in the positive side with such amount of costs? By making companies pay for advertising. With a total revenue of 7.8 billion$ and a total net income of 1.5 billion$ (source Facebook2013 report) there is still room for more servers.
So advertising changed everything. And the more you pay the more they want your money. So what is the interest for Facebook to allow a company to do anything for free? None. That is why we are attending to a big mentality switch. Facebook went from a smart socializing tool that would keep you in contact with friends and family in order to be a fantastic media channel. And media channel means delivering messages paid by companies to your attention. The Facebook market place is the biggest source of revenue at Facebook. Facebook exactly who you are, what you do, what you like and who is in a relationship with you. You can see that for the past 6 month, there is no “new friends suggestion” pushed. We get suggestions for new pages to like and some of them are even “curated” by your best friends.
The challenge for social networks is to make the perfect advertising that will fit your interests. People are happy to consume media advertising on their available mind time. Advertising tend to propose an experience, so passionate consumers will engage with your content.
In a way, the media era has evolved towards a more personal approach.
New media has used a lot of these approach of “customization” to fulfill a better quality in terms of display. We talk more and more about Programatic of media, which is basically apply the Google and Facebook marketplaces into media development.
At the end people will choose. At least we hope they will.
Info sourced at Facebook financial report 2003, Mashable and Technocrunch. All content is copyrighted with no reproduction rights available.