by Jye Smith
December 12th, 2013

Facebook last month finally acknowledged what a lot of outside observers had long suspected ­– brands and marketers are going to have to pay for reach. According to a sales deck seen by trade publication AdAge, Facebook told marketers they should consider paid distribution “to maximise delivery of your message in news feed.”

While this news may cause minor consternation in some circles, should we really be surprised by Facebook’s stance? After all, who ever said Facebook should be a free advertising platform for brands? This is where the fallacy of “social media is free” all started. Facebook was originally built for people, not brands. So if brands want a slice then why shouldn’t they pay?

That said, the changes should be good news for those brands that are making efforts to produce relevant and engaging content. Similar to Google’s recent algorithm changes, only the best quality content will now emerge organically in Facebook News Feeds. Put simply, if your content is good – and I mean really good – it’s still going to be shared by consumers via social.

Like search, what we will see with Facebook is a move to more tactical uses of paid media – launches, announcements, reactions to sales cycles and seasons — rather than an always-on approach. A combination of great content and smart paid media buys will keep Facebook as essential as ever for many brands.

Overall, this is a reinforcement of the fact that because marketers often get so caught up in thinking Facebook is a  channel they are entitled to be on — when really, they are the visitors — so very few of them manage to get it right.

Jye Smith is head of Mediaco, Asia Pacific, at Weber Shandwick

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