In early December, news was widely reported that Facebook's organic reach was dropping – sometimes precipitously – for organizations and brands, and that marketers needed to prepare to – gasp! – pay to reach people on the wildly popular social network. As one of the people responsible for adjusting marketing plans based on these changes, I can vouch for others in that it wasn't a pretty time.
However, while it's not an ideal situation and it continues to frustrate marketers of all shapes and sizes, it proves two things. One: much like any other tactic, platform, publication, or market, putting too many eggs in one basket can come back to bite us. Two: it's just the latest in a series of tools, platforms, social media, and other marketing mechanisms to have changed, thus requiring adjustment.
In the social sphere, this isn't new. In the mid-2000s, people started monetizing their blogs left and right with services such as Pressflex's Blogads. For many, myself included, it was an early foray into “adding value” to the blogs we so diligently posted to every day. Then came various sponsorships and other ad mechanisms, leading us to where we are today, with native advertising, sponsored posts, and more.
By no means should the “pull everything from Facebook” order be barked – or clicked, as it were. However, the “take a deep breath and figure out a solution” switch should be flipped.
Part of the reason – and to me, the primary reason – for much of the uproar (again, I have complained about this issue regularly, including this week on Twitter) is the dramatic effects many marketers were able to have on their businesses, either via simple awareness or positive business results, via this space that is Facebook. What was once an untouched space lacking any real marketing activities beyond those of students at various colleges and universities is now a hotbed – the hotbed, really – for investment of time. Now it's going to require a lot more time and money if Facebook's suggestions prove valuable.
In reality, this is no different from the moment that PR pros began to see impact wane from some of their wire service distributions, when supposedly effective “spray and pray” faxing or emailing techniques gave way to (or returned to, really) a truly effective place where pros needed to actually build relationships with much of the media they wanted to reach, or other sea change-seeming occurrences in the history of marketing, whether it be in advertising or PR.
Over the last decade or so, many of us have spent a lot of time talking about who would “win” social – ad agencies, PR firms, or maybe someone new. As content development has evolved, advertising has also grown and adapted. As those particular skills have changed, so has the type of person manning the fort at our respective agencies. And this has happened in order to do one thing – properly serve our clients.
What's the point, you might ask? As I see it, it is to adapt with an appropriate velocity to deliver results to our clients and teams, while ensuring that any “bumps in the road,” such as a need to better mesh advertising spend and content creation in social media, are more like crossing one block of cobblestones and less like speeding down a highway full of potholes.
Tom Biro is VP of Allison+Partners' Seattle office. His column focuses on how digital media affects and shifts PR. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @tombiro.