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Facebook Ransoms Your Fans

Who owns your online marketing communications? Many are waking up to the reality that they aren’t in control because they’ve built their communications edifice on someone else’s foundation. Previously, I wrote about the dangers of relying too much on platforms that are outside of your control. Now, some of the scenarios I alluded to have become a reality.

Eroding Relationships?

The New York Observer recently published a story about a shift in the access Facebook gives users to people who have “liked” their page. In a nutshell, only around 15% of fans now receive any given post. Why? Facebook wants to sell you a service to “promote” your content to people who have already said they want it (by liking your page). This is Facebook interjecting itself into a relationship that page creators have already spent time and money cultivating. From the article:

Many of us managing Facebook fan pages have noticed something strange over the last year: how our reach has gotten increasingly ineffective. How the messages we post seem to get fewer clicks, how each message is seen by only a fraction of our total “fans.”

It’s no conspiracy. Facebook acknowledged it as recently as last week: messages now reach, on average, just 15 percent of an account’s fans. In a wonderful coincidence, Facebook has rolled out a solution for this problem: Pay them for better access.

As their advertising head, Gokul Rajaram, explained, if you want to speak to the other 80 to 85 percent of people who signed up to hear from you, “sponsoring posts is important.”

In other words, through “Sponsored Stories,” brands, agencies and artists are now charged to reach their own fans—the whole reason for having a page—because those pages have suddenly stopped working.

The article goes on to enumerate various similar abuses by other services that follow the same model.

Where Are You Invested?

The upshot is that you don’t own and control the platform, someone else does. You could find it shifting under your feet as they decide to redefine their business model, and the result is that you could see the value of your investments diminish significantly (85% for Facebook fan pages!). If your marketing communications strategy has you over-invested in things outside of your control, you could see your marketing asphyxiate.

Be sure that your strategy puts you in a strong position by building on a platform that you control, using outside platforms as channels to drive people to your hub. Create Web-Centric Marketing Communications.

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