If you operate a Facebook page for your business or brand, you may have already seen a dip in the reach of your posts from the last Facebocalypse back in December. Well, get ready for The Quickening, because they are doing it again. Yes, it's going to cost you even more just to stay where you are, like the Red Queen of Alice in Wonderland, because Facebook wants you to reach those fans the way you had to reach them in the dark, pre-social years: by paying to advertise.
So what will it cost your brand? My friend Chris Penn has done the heavy lifting for you, by creating this handy calculator that you can use to estimate what you will need to pay to replicate your current level of engagement. I'm already seeing some grief-stricken brands lament this cost on my own Facebook feed.
I posted the following paragraph to my personal Facebook account, and I'll share it with you here:
I did it [used Penn's calculator] , and came up with zero. It will cost me zero, because I am a human and I engage with you and you engage with me. Also, I represent a company [Edison Research] anytime I post in public, and you know who that company is. Is there such a thing as a free lunch on Facebook? Yes there is. This post is one of those lunches.
So is this blog post. Facebook is telling you something, marketers--and what it's telling you is that representing your brand on Facebook is as much about your HR department as it is your marketing department.
But, the Facebocalypse is reassuring in this way: if the only way you are guaranteed to reach an audience on Facebook is basically the same way you'd pay to reach them through display, or radio, or TV, then you can measure and compare the effectiveness of that spend, apples to apples, the same way. So, again, consider the valuable service Chris Penn has done for you by making this calculator. On the one hand, comparing tens of thousands of dollars to "zero" may give you some sticker shock. But compare that cost to reaching a similar audience through display, and maybe you'll have a different answer--or not.
If Facebook wants to make it that cut and dried, in other words, they had better be ready to compete as a pure advertising vehicle--and the path to that is more relevant content. And maybe, just maybe, cleaning a bunch of those organic brand messages out of my feed will enable it to do just that.