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As A Brand, Is Social Media Still A Viable Advertising Option?

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Chamath Palihapitiya, a former Facebook Executive said, “we have created tools that are ripping apart the social fabric of how society works” Facebook, Google, and Twitter have been called into question as to their part in the Russian meddling with the US election; George Soros said during his speech in Davos that Facebook and Google’s days are numbered; Marc Benioff, CEO of Salesforce said that Facebook should be regulated like the cigarette industry. Readers have been writing in wondering whether social media is still a viable advertising option for brands looking to engage with their target audience.

For our latest edition of Industry Opinion we turned to one of our community members to help answer the question:

Steve Buors – Co-Founder & CEO, Reshift Media [Marketplace Listing]


What is social media today?

Steve – Social media today is a place where people and brands share information. People typically share information about their lives, activities and interests while brands are typically “talking” about their products and services. The challenge with social posts is that there are so many of them – so they are all fighting for attention in what is now a very cluttered medium. Facebook uses an algorithm to determine what people are apt to see in their newsfeed, which leads some to assert that Facebook is a “publisher”. Because they don’t actually produce or even curate specific pieces of content, we don’t view Facebook in this light. As marketers, our view is that Facebook provides a different service to people and brands:

  • For the general population, Facebook (and social media in general) remains a means to share information with other people around the world
  • For brands, social media is a marketing avenue to reach people who may be interested in your products and services – similar to any other advertising medium

Should brands change the way they use of social media?

Steve – Looking at social media in this light, we very much see it as a “pay to play” platform. Yes, organic social media should continue to be part of a brand’s strategy (particularly on platforms such as Twitter), but as a general statement, as a brand you need to dedicate some ad dollars to get the most out of what social media has to offer you. The targeting capabilities for outbound strategies are second to none on social media, and as such, any good marketer needs to consider Facebook and Instagram as part of any campaign.

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Facebook recently made drastic changes to their newsfeed – Is it still a viable option for brands to engage with audiences?

Steve – The changes to Facebook’s newsfeed in January included some major ramifications for brands. Thus far, we have not seen any major impacts to our clients, although we did have to very quickly assess our strategy on a client-by-client basis to ensure we were dedicating time and effort against activities that aligned with the newsfeed changes. Organic reach had already been metered down for some time, so we already had many of our “content-centric” strategies in place which meshed well with the changes. Once you view Facebook as a marketing platform and realize that an ad spend is necessary to be successful, it opens up a lot of doors to combine organic and paid social strategies to achieve better results than you ever could with organic only.

Having previously worked in the news publishing industry, we can certainly relate to the issues publishers are experiencing with the newsfeed changes. We have heard of some publishers seeing dramatic decreases in their social media traffic. In these cases, and for brands, we are strongly advocating for a strategy where companies think less about distribution via their own Facebook pages (which by definition receive less reach), and instead implement dedicated strategies to encourage people to share the brand/publisher’s content via their own personal pages. Personal pages are predisposed to receive more reach than brands/publishers, so we see this as a winning strategy. We have been doing this for some time with several of our clients and have seen very good results.