Facebook's ever evolving social media platform made another change that will affect many business pages, as well as what will appearing in your personal news feed. As Valleywag noted, the new change will see business and fan pages able to only reach roughly two percent of the users that “liked” their page through organic growth. This initiative will make Facebook's Boost Post option much more vital. Essentially, Facebook is telling pages to either pay up or reach few to none of the users that like their page.
The User Experience
While pages are bemoaning this issue, Facebook is standing by its longstanding promise to provide a social media platform that works best for their users. This usually comes whether there has been an outcry or not from the users. Facebook contends that this new algorithm will ensure that fans are only getting news from popular websites and from pages the user frequents. While this measure is an admirable gesture, this also limits the user from being able to find new sources of information and interests unless the page pays to appear there.
A fair point in Facebook's defense is that the social media giant has sworn to remain free to their users. However, no such commitment was ever made to businesses and pages. After many attempts to stifle the over saturation of marketing posts from pages a user has liked over the years Facebook has finally found a way to squash the influx. The question then becomes this: Did Facebook do this for the benefit of the user experience or to pad its pockets further? Furthermore, does Facebook care what anyone thinks about the issue?
After rolling out countless changes to large amounts of negative fanfare the answer appears to be 'no'. With this move it seems to be that Facebook is finally letting pages know that the days of free social media promotion on their site are over. It's time to pay up or fade away from your target audience.
Youth Social Media Usage
While this is a wise business decision for Facebook, capitalizing on a profitable facet of the website, the timing may not be. Unless a company or page is aiming towards an older demographic, or Facebook-specific theme, this may be the definitive sign that it is time to evolve for many businesses. In evolutionary terms, we could be seeing more brands leaving the water and setting foot on the now fertile lands of social media for the first time in their existence.
If not involved in marketing and social media management, you may not know what lies beyond the traditional platforms. Facebook still holds strong as the overwhelmingly top choice in social media (roughly 900 million users). Yet, competition from Pinterest, Google Plus, Tumblr and others are starting to be waged.
When looking at younger demographic usage statistics a shift away from Facebook is even more clear. In a recent Forbes piece on surveyed teenagers in 30 countries, “...they revealed that the number of teenagers claiming to be active on Facebook (ie. doing more than just “liking” a separate page on the web) had dropped to 56% in the third quarter of 2013, from 76% in the first.” The Netherlands led the way in decline at 52%. U.S. teens only declined by 16%.
Fertile Social Media Land
The shift is sending teens and college aged users towards mobile apps like SnapChat, WeChat, Kik, and other similar services. These apps are almost impossible to tap into from a marketing perspective. Yet, the landscape is very broad.
In regards to the microblogging platform Tumblr, any type of marketing can be done from a traditional blog to an eye catching clothing store. Twitter allows those creative enough to engage on a personal level in short messages the ability to go viral with a marketing tweet.
The biggest grab can be had from one the Internet's top traffic source: Reddit. The once underground message board-like website now is one of the top providers of news. If a marketer is clever enough to know where to target content (don't worry, other Redditors will be quick to point out if you are in the wrong area) they can reach a global community in seconds. The best part about these services is that they embrace are what Facebook has just taken off the table: free reach.
Large companies like Nike, Apple and any other big brand you can think of will probably be ponying up to Facebook's boost plan. However, it remains to be seen what the smaller pages will be doing. For example, will a local restaurant with a fan tally around 1,500 people pay a few dollars to make sure their page is reached? Maybe. Judging from experience, many of these companies still don't understand the importance of social media and its marketing power. They may just decide that it's time to call it a day, or stay the course until something new comes about.
While this antiquated way of doing business is not suggested a decent percentage of pages will most likely do this. For the other pages not willing to pay, it is high time for them to take their first steps on land and see what the world of social media has to offer them and their audience.