Facebook & Instagram: Why they are no longer FREE
Remember the days when you simply posted content on Facebook and Instagram and all of a sudden the likes and comments flooded in? And best of all, it was 100% free!
Without spending a dollar, you could promote your product or service and see sales immediately. It was easy and genius. Sadly, those days are long gone. Everything evolves, we all know that. In business, we call it pivoting. In the real world, we call it reflecting. Ahh, the good ole’ days.
It all started with Facebook opening to the general public in 2006 and then four years later we saw the launch of Instagram. As always, the quick growth attacked the IPO along with the formidable board members with big plans for monetisation.
Facebook slowly but surely decreased the ability for brands to reach their fans organically and in 2016, they adjusted the newsfeed algorithm with the aim to prioritise content from friends and family over brands and business pages. We saw organic reach for business posts decreasing to lower than 2% in some cases. Between January and July 2016, publishers saw a 52% decline in organic reach on Facebook. With fewer people now seeing your organic posts, fewer clicks, comments, and shares were being made. This, in turn, for brands meant fewer conversions, leads, and sales.
According to Instagram’s own numbers, users will miss on average 70 percent of content posted in their feeds. With that in mind, next came the changes to Instagram. In March 2016, it was announced they would move from a completely chronological feed to incorporate the use of an algorithm. This algorithm now uses a variety of methods to determine which posts appear at the top of a user’s feed. This was to ensure that users see the posts that they’re most likely to care about, according to Mark Zuckerberg.
These severe blows to organic social reach now mean that in order to ensure our followers actually see great content, it is necessary to place some advertising budget it. Paid media is now more critical than ever. However, we need to be smart in our approach. Users will not stand for being spammed with ads that have zero relevance to them. We need to ensure that our promotions are targeted and that we are offering content our followers want to see. By creating high-quality content users find valuable and boosted with some targeted budget, our fans will find the branded content irresistible.
In summary, Facebook and Instagram are now fully fledged advertising platforms, rather than a “social network.” They are businesses that want to sell ads above all else and not simply allow you to reap the benefits of their platform for free. It also means the larger your advertising budget the greater your social advantage. Yes, being free was good while it lasted, but all good things must come to an end. No business can now honestly expect to have substantial organic growth at no cost.
To grow and maintain a strong and targeted social media presence, an advertising budget is essential; otherwise, your great content just won’t be seen.