Recently Facebook made what it likes to refer to as a “pivot,” effectively transforming itself from a social network designed to generate organic engagement into a pay-to-play ad platform.
This pivot has ruffled the feathers of everyone from major brands to SMBs, who for the past decade or so, have flocked to social platforms like Facebook, preferring them as cheap alternatives to traditional marketing and advertising.
But does Facebook’s pivot mean that the era of affordable, effective, organic social marketing may be coming to an end?
Jason Loehr, director of global media and marketing at Brown-Forman, whose clients include Jack Daniels and Southern Comfort, seems to think it does.
“It’s not just (Facebook),” said Loehr, speaking at a recent Digiday forum. “It’s going to be Instagram, it’s going to be Pinterest, it’s going to be Twitter, it’s going to be all of those guys. At the end of the day, they have shareholders to answer to.”
If Loehr’s prediction proves correct, which let’s face it, it’s more likely to than not, it suggests that brands and marketers have been operating in a kind of social media bubble for the past half-decade or so.
Understandably, Facebook’s announcement that it would be cutting the organic reach of brands on its platform to almost zero has caused an uproar amongst brands, big and small; many of which have invested many years and many millions of dollars, building large Facebook followings, that they can now no longer access without paying to do so.
Ever since it first came onto the scene to usurp Myspace as the web’s go-to SM platform, Facebook has always done an expert job at positioning itself as the platform brands can’t live without. But is it?
Loehr feels Facebook’s pivot may be an indication that brands need to shift their focus back towards driving people to their own websites.
But if Loehr is correct about where things are heading, it doesn’t necessarily mean that social is dead. It just means that for social marketing to remain effective, it’s going to have to be augmented by a strong paid media strategy.
The bottom line is that social media marketing is still a viable, affordable means of targeting your customers. Having to pay to reach them on Facebook, and possibly soon on other social networks, may just be a sign of the times.
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