The way that Facebook has affected social media marketing is hard to underestimate. It is difficult to see an advertisement without a Facebook logo or presence on it. It is the ‘first thought’ in many social media campaigns and companies, blogs, even individuals measure success by fans, friends, and likes.
It is certain by now if you have had a website for more than a few weeks you have received offers where you can buy fans and possible you have considered doing so. Everything you have read says that it is imperative to have a large social media presence and if your fan base is growing slower than you care for then it is a temptation (that should be resisted in nearly all instances as unless you have rather deep pockets for a very high end marketing company your ‘fans’ will be bots or people incentivised to click like on hundreds of pages and that will never see your product or message).
The fact is Facebook will be changing a lot in the next year. On May 18, 2012 Facebook went public as a company and now has 421 million shares outstanding in the hands of investors that want to see a return on their investment and a profit. Approaching a year later, these investors are clamouring to see a profit and to do so Facebook is changing.
The changes that affect you as a blogger or small business owner have been minor to this point but I would expect that to change in this year. So far, aside from changes in privacy settings for users, the change has been subtle but growing.
When a video is clicked or even a picture a user now gets a message ‘sponsored by xyz company’ and a clickable link. Expect in the next year for that to change to a brief advertisement or video before taking the user to the photo or video. The purpose is very simple. Sell advertising to generate revenue. This has a substantial effect on you however.
When somebody wants to look at your clever and quality content they will at the same time be shown advertising from a similar genre paying advertising company. If your content being shared on Facebook is not of very high quality then your result will be to spend time and effort generating fans only to send them to another company that can pay for what you had to make.
There has always been suggested pages and advertising on the sidebar on Facebook. Users, like all internet users are used to this and unless it is off great interest ignore it. There is a change in this as well. Now these paid suggestions are appearing in the newsfeeds. This will probably become far more prevalent.
Once again, Facebook is using the users other ‘likes’ to determine what to suggest to them in the newsfeeds. If you do not have excellent content they will find a similar niche site or page that does compliments of Facebook.
With all of this additional advertising, users will become more accustomed to avoiding blatant sales messages on Facebook. To retain value as a marketing tool to you it is imperative that your fans see you as interesting and valuable content rather than another advertisement. Just as important you need to develop genuine awareness with your fans about who you are and what you do so they recognise you and remember why they wanted your page instead of a random paid page on a similar topic.