Many brands have spent the past several years getting consumers to 'like' them on the world's most popular social network, Facebook. And for a seemingly good reason: when it comes to location, location, location in social, you can't beat Facebook, which may surpass the 1bn registered user mark this year.
But after a recent lavish event Facebook held for brands in New York, brands may be asking whether Facebook is working for them, or they're working for Facebook.
As AdAge details, Facebook used the event to remind brands that only 16% of their Facebook fans actually see the content they post organically on the social network. That's because, in an effort to protect the user experience, Facebook's EdgeRank algorithm filters out content that may not be relevant.
But in the run up to the social network's IPO, Facebook is willing to give brands a greater ability to ensure that their marketing messages reach a much larger audience. For a price of course.
Facebook unveiled a tool, Reach Generator, that will let marketers buy all the reach they want. Priced according to the size of a brand's fan base, the tool is designed to take a piece of content and amplify its reach by resurfacing it as an ad.
The pitch is that just 16% of fans currently see organic content posted by brands: Most of it is weeded out by Facebook's EdgeRank algorithm, designed to enhance users' experience by putting only the most relevant content in their news feeds. Using the paid ad tool could increase a brand's exposure percentage to as high as 75%.
As PHD USA's chief digital officer, Craig Atkinson, told AdAge, "Many [clients] have spent significant sums to generate these fan bases, and many of them thought of those people as though they're an owned asset, almost like an email list ... but now it looks like rented media." Rented media indeed.
Brands really shouldn't be surprised. After all, this has been Facebook's modus operandi for some time. From the numerous privacy changes it has foisted upon its users to the promises it has made to developers and then broken,
Facebook rarely does favors for others. Now that it's going public and needs to put the pedal to the metal in the drive for revenue, brands are being taken on a ride many of them didn't see coming, or didn't want to see coming.