The Pay to Play Reality of Social Media | There is No More Free Lunch

Pay to Play reality of Social Media

Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Tumblr, Periscope (if you haven’t heard of that last one I suggest you look it up). There are so many ways to market yourself in the world of social media. The way things operate now is certainly not the way they were when some of these tools were first launched, leaving many business owners scratching their heads and wondering how to manage the vast world of the interwebs.

The good old days of free marketing on social media are a thing of the past, but many people just cannot come to terms with this fact. Today I’m going to talk about a few platforms that you should be using for your business and how those platforms have advertising opportunities that could be making you money.6a00d8341c652b53ef014e8696185e970d-800wi

FACEBOOK.

Facebook changes its algorithm faster than John Mayer changes girlfriends. I just can’t keep up half the time. But one thing is for certain, if you manage a business page you have seen your amount of likes, impressions, clicks and views go down the tubes in last couple years. This is not by accident. Organic reach of your updates in peoples feeds is dead.

THERE IS NO MORE FREE LUNCH. 

Facebook wants money from business page owners as is their right. I for one am totally ok with this and you should be too. If you are still whining and complaining that no one is seeing your posts, then I have news for you.

You get what you pay for, and when you pay nothing, you get nothing. 

So let us stop complaining and start realizing that right now Facebook is actually a really powerful marketing tool and it works! That is if you are willing to pay to play. Here are two ways that you should be utilizing Facebook right now.

1) Dark posts – Facebook dark posts are promoted posts that you have show up in peoples news feeds without having them post to your timeline. The idea is that not everyone will see them, only the subset of people that you want to see them. Basically, when you create a post on your page you have to publish it so that people see it and it also stays on your timeline feed. Dark posts are posts that you create, but you do not publish them. However, the posts are saved and you can promote them and have them show up in peoples news feeds. Before, any sort of ad was only on the side bar, but now these posts show up right in the feed with everything else they are viewing. Dark posts are great for split testing of your ad dollars. You can create a post this way and then do another one using the traditional ad method to see which one works best.

2) Facebook Ads – Good old fashioned ads. These show up on the sidebar or in the news feed and you can select from a list of identifiers to target your post…age, gender, location, education, etc. Create a campaign ad where you are looking for more likes to your page or hits to your website. Or, simply promote a published post with these identifiers to have it show up right in peoples news feeds.

Try both of these out and compare which one works best for you business. If you discover that one is working better than the other, great! Use that one. You get the point.

PINTEREST.

The go to place to plan your wedding, and that’s whether you’re engaged or not. I kid… but no, really. Lots of new things are happening at Pinterest headquarters. Recently, Pinterest made the decision to ban all affiliate links on their platform. Businesses and bloggers have been using Pinterest for years to make mad cash using affiliate marketing. No more! Now, Pinterest will be handling this exchange of commerce themselves. There are even plans of putting a BUY button on your pins and Pinterest will get a cut of the transaction. This is a major shift in the e-commerce world and should yield very positive results for both Pinterest and its users. Secondly, and this is the big one, Pinterest is rolling out a program where you will be able to promote your pins and have them show up in peoples feeds. Yes! Paid advertising is coming to the site. And this makes perfect sense. With photo searches exploding in recent years, Pinterest is basically the new Google search. To promote your pins you do need to have a business account and not a personal one and you can read more about that by visiting their business info site . There are some folks in the media marketing world (ahem! Gary Vaynerchuck) who think this is going to be huge, and I would tend to agree with a lot of what he has to say regarding business. So check this out and get on it if you’re looking to up your pinning game.

INSTAGRAM. 

Finally, Instagram. If you haven’t noticed yet, last month Instagram changed its viewing experience for the web application and how you view photos. The photos are bigger! This doesn’t really have much to do with advertising; I just think it is awesome and it is about time! For right now, Instagram is still a free service. However, I would like to make a prediction and say that there will be opportunities to pay and target your photos in the very near future. Remember, Facebook owns Instagram! That means they own all your information too. It is already starting to happen. Every now and then you’ll see a “sponsored” photo show up in your feed for some mega-huge company. I think before long us common-folk will start to have this ability as well. Watch for this change to take place within the next year. Many businesses are already using the power of this social network to gain an audience for what they do. Paid advertising on this platform could be huge and I really hope I am right about this.

[Editor’s Note: Ads on Instagram are already rolling out.]

So, there you have it. A few ways that paid ads on social media are working and are changing the landscape of internet commerce. I encourage you to try these out and see how they could work for your business. If you do it consistently and with intention I really believe it can yield positive results. And if you give a try and it all goes to shit for you, well, you can have your free lunch…because I’ll buy it for you.

Anne Schmidt

Anne is a professional wedding and portrait photographer, mother of two and recent Texas transplant (her heart is still in Maine). When not photographing very awesome life events she can be found wrangling small humans (only her own, she promises), cooking her favorite recipes, brewing beer with her husband and desperately trying not to own everything Kate Spade emails her on a daily basis.

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