Facebook Bites the Hand that Feeds – Again

Not_facebook_dislike_thumbs_downFacebook has added a ban on incentivizing likes to its continued war on marketers. Add this to spiraling reach and an algorithm that at this point requires witchcraft (or a massive ad spend) to deliver content effectively for brands and you’ve got an ad supported network that hates advertisers.  Sound like a strategic mistake? That’s because it is. I am not giving carte blanche to marketers to fill our News Feeds with banner ads or garbage content, but quality content from brands should be served to users in a natural and organic way. If you like a page you should see content from that page.

Marketing Fundamentals No More

This represents a fundamental shift in strategy for Facebook. Removing the ability to organically grow your audience by creating a natural incentive to engage with your brand removes a fundamental marketing tool that has been used by brands for 100 years. What’s next? A ban on asking fans to like your page within content? A ban on page-like calls to action within e-mail communications and on websites? Those may seem ridiculous, but two years ago this ban would have seemed equally ludicrous. By not allowing marketers to work on the principle of social exchange for access to exclusive Facebook content has removed one of the most powerful and versatile tools in the marketing toolbox.

“To ensure quality connections and help businesses reach the people who matter to them, we want people to like Pages because they want to connect and hear from the business, not because of artificial incentives. We believe this update will benefit people and advertisers alike.” — Facebook

What’s sad is Facebook’s (ridiculous) rationalization that this is in an effort to create a better user experience and brand-to-fan relationship when study after study reveals incentives like discounts, promos, and freebies are the top reasons users choose to Like brands on the platform.

Reasons for becoming a fan

Reasons for liking

Bye Bye Organic Growth

Developers have 90 days to make things kosher with Facebook’s new terms. This means that apps (and brands) will lose the ability to quickly and cost effectively grow their Facebook audiences. This also means that marketers that build apps within the Facebook platform will lose the ability to create in-app content specifically for fans. With declining reach and sliding engagement numbers across the site this means a fond farewell to the days of growing your audience organically.  Open your pocket book, pay the man, and write a white paper about how great they are while you’re doing it.

Shut Up and Pay Up

Despite massive amounts of research that proves that many consumers rank deals and offers as the top reasons they like brand pages. Facebook, in its effort to keep its platform free of advertising has actually removed the ability for brands to deliver on the value proposition of Facebook for brands.  Calling these “artificial incentives” shows a major disconnect between what Facebook users actually want and what Facebook delivers to them. It’s clear that they lack a true understanding of how people view brand involvement on the platform.

What do you think of Facebook’s latest attack on brands? How do you plan to alter your strategy to combat this change? Stay tuned for my next post where I’ll examine ways you can use content strategy to help drive organic growth.


Ignite Social Media