I’ve been in the social media game for just shy of a decade. My retail business was on Facebook when Myspace was still “the place to be”.
Years were spent cultivating relationships with customers to grow our ‘fan base’. Weirdly enough, no one ever really “sold” on Facebook back then. Maybe you had some stock to get rid of that you’d post to your ever-growing crowd, but you did it because you wanted them to have ‘first dibs’, as a reward for being there, week in week out.
The number of fans (or followers and likers as they have become known) a business page had were a serious metric of brand growth. It was social proof, that you had a tribe of people who loved what you sold and wanted to be the first to know what was happening in your store.
Then somewhere along the way, the metric shifted. Facebook moved from a being a social platform, to a business platform.
Shouting through the noise
Years passed and less and less of your followers could see what you were posting. Facebook told us that there was too much ‘noise’ and they had algorithms that would filter out what it thought we wanted to see.
So, retailers started to post more often in the hopes that SOMETHING would make it through the noise and onto the screens of their followers.
Fast forward nearly 10 years and it’s no secret Facebook is a pay-to-play platform. If you’re a business and want access to the 2 billion people who hang out there, you’re going to have to whip out the credit card to do so.
It’s easy to moan about how this ‘social’ platform is taking you further away from the exact people that want to hear from you, but the fact is, it’s a business.
The Ultimate Marketing Machine?
Where else can you pinpoint a 30-year-old-man who drives an Audi, works in finance, is married with a two-year-old child, lives in a North Sydney and loves Heineken beer? The answer is … nowhere.
No other advertising platform has the multitude of data that allows you to specifically target the EXACT customer that wants to buy your products.
So why then are retailers still spending money to increase their number of Facebook followers? Every day, groups are filled with reciprocal like posts and ads float past in our news feeds, specifically to gain more followers.
You’re Wasting Your Money
When it comes to spending money to increase your Facebook followers, you’re probably just throwing your money away. OK, I’ll admit that there may be a time and a place, after all, if was just wasting money, why would Facebook offer it as a conversion? Advanced marketers may use the ‘increase followers’ conversion as part of a multi-pronged strategy. Ads that are targeted to gain followers are generally cheaper, but require a secondary ad campaign to harvest those likers and retarget to them. Unfortunately, many unsuspecting marketers still believe that by increasing their follower numbers, their message will be seen by more people. Because hey, after all, it IS a social platform.
The truth is, you can no longer rely on organic Facebook reach to sell your products and get your message across
The Game Changer
Facebook is currently trialling the new Explore Feed feature. It’s been dubbed a secondary tier news feed. This will see all business posts, except those that are paid for, removed from our consumer’s news feeds. In order to see posts from business pages, customers will need to manually change their feed.
This is going to mean less interaction, less shares and less viral posts for marketers. And whilst the Facebook gods haven’t said whether this is going to be rolled out globally, the fact remains that they will always be looking for ways to increase their revenue and to change up the customer experience for users.
Keeping up to date with relevant trends is just one of the hats that you need to wear as a retail business owner. Relying on word of mouth, whether it be in person or digital, should never be your sole source of marketing and customer generation.
It’s essential to integrate a mix of paid and organic marketing strategies for your retail store. This will ensure that your customer funnel in constantly being filled, so that you continue to have a healthy pool of new customers to draw upon, in addition to serving those faithful, returning customers.