You had enough time to build an online platform. For free.
And if you did it right, you were able to build a brand, a minimum viable audience and authority in your niche.
Things are changing, and they’re changing fast. As you’ve probably read in different sources, Facebook made the first move by killing “Organic” Reach for Pages back in December 2013, today the Internet is filled with rants from people that refuse to believe that social networks are nothing but media companies that need to generate revenue.
Now publishers and bloggers can’t seem to rely on simply posting a piece of content and expect to organically reach that sweet 16% we all came to know and love (sort of). And if you’re barely starting a Facebook Page for your business, you can expect a lot more work than it used to take.
Whether or not Facebook Reach was intentionally affected to push ads or this is just hype, some Pages are experiencing lower than average performance. It certainly crashed in a very dramatic fashion for the SocialMouths Page, as you can see in the following image. Between December 19 and 21, it went from reaching 3.3k to an almost embarrassing 429. Just like that.
Yesterday, another announcement regarding changes to the news feed was made public. Facebook will begin to show fewer text updates from Pages and more from Friends, but Pages will probably see an increase in engagement on other types of media.
What’s definitely true is that Facebook worked hard on taking advertising to the next level during 2013, and in the following months we’ll probably continue to see more changes to its ad products and also to the News Feed algorithm.
But it’s not just Facebook, other networks like Twitter and LinkedIn have also been working on improving their advertising offerings throughout the past year. Should you expect similar moves from other networks? I don’t know, but you should start rethinking your social marketing and how your business has been reaching its audience all this time.
Lets face it, besides what’s been said about all this, the Internet in general has become a lot more competitive, and standing out from the noise is a lot harder than it was just 2 years ago.
Simply putting out epic content, optimizing your post, adding hashtags and scheduling at the best times across all networks will no longer cut it in 2014.
As my friend Jen from Make Mention Media recently pointed out… the free lunch is over.
So, is it time to jump ship and finally force yourself to take Google+ seriously? And then what, milk that cow until Google introduces its own Promoted Posts or some other type of revenue model?
Now it’s time to dig out a term you haven’t been using in the past few years: Cost per Acquisition.
Facebook is simply getting serious about revenue, and perhaps it’s time you do too. Now the million dollar question is this…
Is there life after Organic Reach?
Or perhaps the question should be… Are Facebook Ads really effective?
I’ll share with you my recent experience:
Case Study #1
For the recent launch of my course Email Marketing [not so] 101, 24.55% of sales were generated through Facebook Ads.
Lets break it down, traffic coming from SocialMouths is the default for most traffic, this is usual. Email (21.5%) has been historically my #1 source by far, only this time I generated 2.9% more sales from Facebook ads. I didn’t expect that.
I also realize that I could have made a lot more sales by being more aggressive on my campaigns.
Case Study #2
Then I published my new course “10 Mistakes People Make on Facebook Pages and How to Fix Them“, right during the same days my Organic Reach crashed. I ran a couple of campaigns for this too.
In this case, I had 2 goals for the campaign:
- Email subscriber acquisition
- To get an initial idea of the “Acquisition Cost”
The reason I wanted to know how much it takes to acquire a subscriber is to have a starting point and work on lowering the cost from there with more effective campaigns.
40.3% of the conversions was generated through Facebook ads, and of course for obvious reasons, there was no email campaign. The rest of the conversions came from several different sources as regular traffic.
I ran two ads, one for Fans and one for Non-Fans that like similar pages, here are the results:
- The CPA for Fans was $0.55
- And for Non-Fans was $0.81
And the conversion rate on the site was:
- 33% (Fans)
- 22% (Non-Fans)
Are these numbers low or high? It really doesn’t matter, as long as it makes sense with your profit margin.
It’s a little different when you’re talking about acquisition of email subscribers because there is no immediate monetary transaction, but all you have to do is calculate the lifetime value of your subscriber.
Knowing how much you can invest in acquiring a customer will help you make better marketing decisions.
Organic vs Paid
Paid Media is not new, but most small businesses have no experience with it because they’ve been trapped in the “Social Media is supposed to be free” mindset.
But let me ask you this:
Lets say you have a product with a $35 profit and your CPA through Facebook Ads is $10. What would you prefer to get, 5 sales through organic reach or 10 through paid advertising?
Turns out you will end up making $175 with the organic approach and $250 paying for ads.
Most people will consider the $10 too high of an investment. In fact, when it comes to social media in general, most people expect to get a return with no investment. This mindset in completely wrong, and perhaps one of the reasons most small businesses fail to generate any kind of revenue, even tough they have a “presence” online. Some even have Facebook Pages with thousands of Fans but have never generated a penny.
Now, I want to make sure you understand I’m in no way suggesting you should ignore organic reach, I’m just saying it will no longer be enough as a marketing initiative.
I didn’t write this post with the intention to make a prediction for 2014, I never do, but if had to give you one, I’d say that in 2014 your business will have to rely a lot more on paid media than ever before, especially if your business is young and you’re still building a following.
Expanding your digital footprint as they say, will cost you a little investment and a lot more creativity.
Other networks that already offer paid media like Twitter, Instagram or Pinterest are still young and ads are probably not as effective as Facebook’s offerings, but they will get there sooner than later.
I strongly recommend that in 2014, you start backing up your content marketing with a mix of organic and paid promotion.
How about you?
Have you been already investing in paid media? How about Facebook ads? Are you planning on integrating this in 2014? Tell us your experience in the comments below.