Building media equity as an owner

Sometimes being a tenant can suck. Especially when your landlord ups the rent, changes the rules, announces a major renovation, or evicts you. Landlords have a lot of power, since they do after all own the place. You are simply paying the privilege of staying there. But it can appear mean spirited to have the rules of your tenancy change if you’ve been there a long time, have decorated it like your own and become attached to the place.

Ok, you get it. That’s generally why many of us aim to own at some point in our lives. When we own, we make our own rules. We renovate, build, add, invite others in and entertain as we choose. We also generally build equity by owning.

The same analogy applies to social media, although many of us don’t view it that way. Facebook and other social media are all owned by someone else. We simply decorate them as our own sites to broadcast and engage, and our “rent” is the agreed access that the owner has to tracking our patterns of behaviour and interests. It’s an agreement that most of us have willingly entered. The benefits are viewed as a price to pay for access.

Businesses too have been sucked into the romance of this relationship. Especially with Facebook, and its ability to select from an increasingly broad worldwide audience, down to a micro level folks that might be interested in your product. Good content marketing has continued to show up within feeds organically, despite shrinking inventory and increased demand for space by advertisers. Brand content, news and entertainment mixed with friend’s posts and shares are what keep people scrolling through Facebook. I don’t think that’s about the change, but news of Facebook’s experiments with the “Explore” feed in isolated global markets, certainly has some businesses and brands running scared.

Here’s what you need to know

  • Earlier this month Facebook launched Explore Feed (it appears in left menu on desktop as well as mobile)
  • It’s meant to help users discover content not in their regular feed
  • In 6 isolated market countries (Sri Lanka, Bolivia, Slovakia, Serbia, Guatemala and Cambodia) some of the best brand and organic content has now been moved from the main feed to the Explore Feed.
  • It’s only a test in these markets, but it has brands and businesses panicked there, since their organic reach is down 66%. The fear of course is this could make its way into other markets, forcing a “pay to play” across the board.

My take

  • It’s a limited test. I will reserve my opinions about the ethics of such a move in these politically vulnerable countries, and what Facebook has done to limit genuine news content from showing up at the expense of those that can pay to have their message get out. Buy me a glass a wine at a networking event and we can riff together on that one!
  • Facebook is running out of space in the feed, but I don’t think they will get rid of organic content and news feeds anytime soon. That content provides entertainment and the basis of engagement between users. They need some of it to make the feed interesting.
  • A second feed will not work, at least not in the current design. Will they change the design? That would have to happen for this to even be considered in the future in my opinion.
  • Content volume is an issue for sure. I would bet on higher costs for sponsored content (less space, more demand will drive prices up more) before I would bet on Facebook moving to a second feed. But I’m not an owner…

Jon Loomer wrote a great post this week, where he goes into way more details if you’re curious. Check it out HERE. So where does this leave you?

In business you never want to be dependent on one client or one supplier. The same goes for Facebook. Which brings us back to mining your own database…

  • Building out your own list…
  • Having your own blog and subscribers…
  • Having your own OWNED MEDIA

We should be striving to use other media such as Facebook to not only engage, but to ultimately drive traffic back to our own OWNED MEDIA (website, blog or enewsletter) where we can capture them one on one as subscribers or followers.

Another tactic is to use the broadcast reach of established media (like the Globe and Mail or Huffington Post) to publicize our content as EARNED MEDIA or to have a piece published that we wrote as EMBEDDED MEDIA. In both these cases, those established players with huge reach help drive traffic back to your site where you can once again capture subscribers or followers.

It’s then all about building media equity as an owner, not a tenant.

Here’s an example of embedded media from an article I published this week in the Huffington Post. (What I Learned Offline While Trekking at 15,170 ft in Peru) Admittedly it’s a travel/lifestyle piece, but because I usually write about business, my positioning statement and website still appears at the top as a columnist in that capacity. Without fail, whenever I publish to the Huff Post, I see direct traffic to my site on analytics, and numerous sign ups as a result. It works like a charm.

I’m not advocating we grow away from Facebook at all. It’s an amazing tool with huge reach. I just think we need to be aware that as tenants to Mark Zuckerberg, we will always be exposed to changes beyond our control. It’s far better to diversify an approach and build equity along the way.

As an added bonus when you sign up for my weekly 5-Minute Marketing Tips enewsletter (by clicking the “See value in these insights?” link), you will receive a copy of my 5 Steps to Grow Your Audience Marketing CHEAT SHEET. Be sure sign up if you’re not already a member of this insiders group. And if you are already on my list, just drop me an email saying you’d like to receive the 5 Steps Cheat Sheet.  I’d be delighted to send it to you! Or simply link HERE.

Mary Charleson

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