Posted: 15 Oct 2012 05:09 AM PDT
Peanuts’ character Lucy was an expert at bait and switch, and Charlie Brown fell for it every time.
With its aggressive push toward the use of advertising – especially Promoted Posts – Facebook could have many small business owners feeling as if they have been lured into a scheme that promised a platform for free promotion but delivered a ploy to poke deeper inside their pocketbooks.
Maybe I’m being a bit too harsh, but a recent Wall Street Journal article – What’s a Facebook Fan Worth? – states that many entrepreneurs are “irked” at the notion of having to pay for posts in order to reach a larger number of their fan base. The article cites Mountain Home, Idaho, caterer Richard Bishop, who said that promoted posts could end up costing him $9,100 per year based on the number of posts he creates each week.
It goes without saying that every post doesn’t have to be promoted and that posting frequency should be limited to no more than two per day, but that’s not the point.
The point is, by forcing fan page owners to pony up anywhere from five to hundreds of dollars to promote posts that previously were free, Facebook has pulled a “bait and switch” on its business users. Even worse, the fact that non-paid for organic posts appear to have decreased reach (see here and here for data), one might consider it to be outright blackmail!
And the culprit, that darned IPO!
I said the other day that, thanks to the faltering IPO, Facebook would be forced to bolster its revenue, and it has chosen to do so via a number of advertising options, including promoted posts for both fan page owners and regular users alike.
“[T]here is little doubt that the world’s largest social network will face increased pressure to monetize once it’s a publicly-traded entity. With user growth slowing, it will no longer be able to grow revenue as easily. That will not only push the company to monetize in currently unmonetised areas, like mobile ads, it may also logically push Facebook to serve more ads, and more aggressive ads.”
The WSJ article said the same thing: “The initiative is just one example of recent moves by Facebook to prop up its sagging stock price with new money-making products.”
Even though I’m using some strong language, I don’t mean to suggest that Facebook has some nefarious motive in mind, only that it is acting (or reacting) out of a sense of desperation. Still (and call it what you will), the effect is the same: in order for content to be seen by more than a few fans, businesses now have to pay.
(Of course, Facebook is not the only social network charging to promote posts; Twitter does it and Foursquare is also testing a promoted posts concept.)
This leads me to one obvious conclusion: selling products and services via social networks is no longer free – not that it ever was. Until now, however, most of the cost was associated with time, which could be considered a soft cost. Now, we’re talking hard costs in terms of dollars spent. And when it comes to that, businesses – especially smaller ones – are going to have to justify the investment.
Who’s to say that Facebook won’t supply some metrics-based solution to help, but who’s to say it will either. After all, that’s not the social network’s priority (or problem). The company has its own costs to justify – the stock price. (Talk about bait and switch!)
So, what do you think? Are promoted posts worth the cost? Is Facebook driving a hard bargain? Or am I over the top to suggest that it’s bait and switch?
couldn’t agree more (from social commerce today)»
You may have already seen it ‘The Condescending Corporate Brand Page” – a brilliant lampooning of brand Facebook Pages that takes aim at all the engagement monkeys out there destroying brand credibility with lame attempts to collect Likes (see accompanying Twitter Feed @corporate_brand). Like us if you think you’re special, Like us if love animals, Like us if you want World Peace.
The Financial Times this morning approves, and thinks the-all-too-prevalent Condescending Corporate Brand Pages are desperate and decidedly uncool. Dad at school disco kind of thing. Hotpoint is singled out as a prime example. We agree. Brands are not people. They’re trademarks imbibed with value designed to extract margin.
So what’s a brand to do? Simple, get real and add a little value by realising that Facebook is a word of mouth platform. So use Facebook to listen to unfettered word of mouth around your brand. And as good friend and bestselling author Emanuel Rosen (The Anatomy of Buzz (still the best book ever written on word of mouth)), says the secret to word is simple – get your product into the hands of your fans and give them something to talk about. That’s what Facebook is for – a seeding platform for activating fan advocacy with fan-first exclusives and fan-first promotions.
So stop collecting Likes and start driving value. And put the engagement monkeys back in the zoo.
in the very near future anyone with a face can get checkin deals.
bringing the social web into the real world is cool and fun.
Great summary and insights for planners and creatives and all those inbetween.