Facebook Organic Reach and the Futility of Like Farming

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If you’ve spent 5 minutes with a marketer in the past 5 years you will have heard them talk about paid, owned & earned media and their increased focus on digital marketing.

Many of these marketers will have also been responsible for ad campaigns on Facebook with the sole objective to procure ‘Likes’.

Like farming was always done in the mistaken belief that you could forgo an expensive website for a Facebook page, build a huge community of fans and talk to them for free. This was a panacea to the paid, owned, earned and digital marketing task and many marketers left it there.

The real problem was that when you add many social media channels to the mix your need POE triangle became a square; the fourth pillar is rented.

I never bought into Facebook as an ad platform in the beginning; firstly because of the terrible ad positions on the right hand side but mainly because I didn’t see the point of paying to recruit an audience you then had to pay Facebook to talk to again. Admittedly in the early days you could talk to many of your fans for free but there was still a lot of wasted money. My fear of the rented community was always that if Facebook decided to become a slum landlord you really were screwed.

That has sort of happened. We’ve seen organic reach decline for a while now and most reports say that we are as close to zero as possible.

This has caused uproar amongst the like farmers but if they didn’t have the foresight to realise that Facebook was never going to allow them to speak to ‘fans’ for free forever they deserve all they get.

I now buy into Facebook strongly. Custom audiences are a fantastic CRM tool; retargeting in the newsfeed works far better than creepy banners following audiences around and when you use a quality PMD the ad optimisation is peerless. That’s before taking into account that FB is arguably the best way to cut through on a mobile device.

Tie ups with Nielsen to crack online GRPs and the inclusion of companies such as Datalogix only serve to strengthen the case.

Like Farming still persists and many marketers are yet to grasp that Facebook isn’t a place for brands to have inane conversations. Audiences are used to the advertising now; it’s our job to make it quality & relevant.

Someone just needs to tell David Cameron.

About Alan King

I've been working in digital media for quite a while now. I thought it was time I started a blog. I am managing partner and head of digital at UM London. All thoughts are my own.
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