free vs paid social media

There’s No Such Thing As Free Social Media

2018 started off pretty rough on social media, to be honest. In less than two months, people started eating Tide Pods (#SMH) and Facebook announced its algorithm update.

While the prior will hopefully fade as soon as humanly possible, the latter is only going to get worse. Brands’ organic reach on Facebook is slowly on the decline, and according to an AdAge article in 2014, Facebook representatives were quoted as saying that organic reach will eventually reach zero.

Even though social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram are “free,” the reach and capabilities you have are limited as a brand, especially with the most recent update. When you spend time and resources creating a video, blog post, or graphic, you post it for free, and then you reach 50 people, one of which is your mom and 10 of which are your coworkers. That’s not going to drive sales.

So What Can You Do About It?

For starters, fork out a little cash. This organic reach decrease has been a long time coming for brands. In the past couple years, Facebook updated its algorithm to show users more posts from their friends and family before brands. We saw a decrease across our clients’ organic reach after this, as did nearly all brands across the platform.

As of 2017, brands were reaching only about 2% of their audience organically on Facebook. This means that the content you spent so much time creating, planning, and posting likely barely skimmed the surface of potential reach. Thanks a lot, Facebook.

If you’re late to the game on paid, you can still get going. We saved you some dough by running our own A/B test of organic versus paid Facebook posts to prove that Facebook paid is truly valuable in achieving business goals, whether it is leads, applications, clicks, or video views.

Check out what we found for our $50 paid investment into a Facebook post boost.

Reach increased by 1,149% with the paid boost compared to the organic reach. On this boosted Element job post, the paid spend and specific targeting drove 20% more clicks to the website than the organic post.element paid facebook boost

Paid really is more effective than organic because it helps brands reach not only more people, but the exact people who will generate a lead or a click. 83% of the paid clicks were new users, whereas 80% of the organic clicks were returning users. This indicates the paid boost reached new users who haven’t seen Element content and helped the content reach far beyond the small organic reach.

The kicker, this post received relatively high organic reach for our page audience based on industry averages. As mentioned early, brands on average typically reach only 2% of their audience. This post organically reached 13% of our audience before the added boost. We likely won’t be so lucky to see that kind of organic reach in the near future.

This is a relatively low investment compared to other media outlets. But there are going to be some changes within the paid Facebook realm.

As other brands pick up on the need to use paid, ad rankings could shift if Facebook boosts aren’t getting as much organic engagement or reach. This could impact the relevancy of the ad to the boosted audience, which could increase prices in the auction.

It will likely become more competitive, too. As brands see their organic reach decreasing, more brands will invest in ads, which creates more competition for the limited ads Facebook is willing to place in a user’s newsfeed.

Some also speculate that ad options could change. As newsfeed space is limited with the increase of content across the internet and more friends and family posts, we could see a shift from newsfeed ads to more ads in Facebook Messenger.

How to Get Started

Run paid ads, duh. But before you do, go in with a plan. Make sure your ad promotes quality content that your highly-targeted audience will find valuable or intriguing to ensure the best results for your investment.

Change how you measure success. Measuring organic reach and page likes is not the answer any more. Measure clicks on ads, conversions within your website from the ad clicks, and more. Measure business goals, which can be accomplished through Facebook ads. Not organic Facebook reach as a business goal.

Consider other digital options. In the world of endless internet content, how can your brand stand out? Our team of content marketers just might have a couple ideas for you. Contact us to find out how you should be using paid on Facebook or what other platforms would drive results for your business goals.

Digital Marketing Specialist