There is a problem looming and it’s revealed in these statistics. Facebook advertising has grown by around 50 per cent over the past year and 75 per cent of brands use the channel to boost their posts.
Not is it just Facebook; other networks are the same. And it’s coming from both ends. Facebook Instant is just one example of a network looking to own content.
You may be able to sell ads on Facebook Instant pages, but your content will be on there. To be utterly simplistic, this is great from Facebook’s point of view because it doesn’t produce any content of its own.
If you think about it, it’s like a bar where you have to supply the food and drink but Facebook gets to sell it. With Instant it’s simply giving you a tip.
In the words of Jaws shark hunter Captain Quint, when looking at a shark cage: “Cage goes in the water, you go in the water. Shark’s in the water. Our shark.”
Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, whatever. They all want to eat your budget.
The issue arises when you follow this argument to its logical conclusion. We’re all having to advertise on Facebook/LinkedIn etc because they own the audience. Then what happens if they own the content? And what they will do if it’s sitting on their servers.
One of the big benefits of content marketing is that it is relatively cheap compared to brand advertising.
If LinkedIn is the only option when you’re trying to reach a B2B audience, then clearly things are going to start getting expensive. The focus will switch from ‘what content should we put out?’ to ‘can we afford it?’
Without wishing to sound like someone planning for armageddon and storing baked beans in the basement, you should be taking care. It is imperative that companies look to build up their own sites and email subscription lists.
The big hope in countering the shift towards the networks is Google. Maybe it’s a good thing that G+ failed to lift off.
Google is clearly aware of that. I recall being at one of the company’s presentations in 2009 and hearing executives talk about Facebook as a ‘walled garden’. If people are planting all their pretty flowers inside then the walled garden will become simply the garden.
For all Google’s faults – has anyone recovered from the loss of Google Reader? – it does have an interest in the proliferation of good content and varied sites. Obviously, that’s not including video, right? Hmm…
Looking ahead to 2017: use Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn et al to promote your posts, but focus on building your own network.
If in doubt, here’s a stat to remember. Email has a clickthrough rate of around 3 per cent. Facebook is 0.9 per cent.
Swimming with Jaws: hungry for content marketing budgets is part of Content24, the blog for London content marketing agency FirstWord.