Michael Watkins

Facebook, thank you for teaching the marketing industry a lesson!

With all this talk about facebook decreasing fan reach, you would think the social network has done marketers some wrong. I personally think they've done the opposite. They've done the marketing industry a favour. Heres why.

Due to the significant drop in reach, marketers will now be forced to generate high levels of natural engagement in order to increase their natural reach - alternatively, they can pay for that reach.

By getting the industry focused on reach, or more importantly, the impact of engagement on reach, we're entering an era where reach will become an ongoing core success metric. Something that we will all, as marketers, be held accountable to.

The historical modus operandi of advertising has always dictated that a marketing department was employed to influence as many consumers as possible through the brand they represent within a specified budget, resulting in brand recognition, which lead to sales and other shiny positive metrics that make clients happy.

The more consumers you reached, the more successful your campaign was. Traditionally this meant you had to pay more to gain more reach, be it by advertising on TV during a major sporting event, taking out a full page ads in a major newspapers or advertising on a high rating breakfast radio shows.

Prior to facebook turning down reach, brands had access to similar levels of consumers as some top ranking TV show, full page newspaper or top breakfast radio show advertising slots would have given them, for free.

With reach now under lock and key, you would be forgiven for thinking that the only way to increase your reach is to pay for it, like you do with every other medium. This isn't true.

There is another way to dial up reach on facebook, which I want to graphically display below.

Remember, the more engaging your content, the more facebook will reward you with more reach.

Facebook is doing us a favour. It is making us better content marketers.

Don't believe me? Without facts, I wouldn't either. That is why we ran an experiment to test our hypothesis.

SUPRÉ is one of the largest female fashion communities on facebook in Australia with over 460k fans. We produce content and manage this page. Over the past 3 months we ran a content strategy we've called 'Density Pockets'.

A density pocket refers to a cultural insight that generates incredibly dense (high, heavy) amounts of engagement when placed in an update and presented to your fans. We managed to isolate four density pockets, but will only focus on one in this article, we termed it the 'Best Friends' density pocket. It refers to the special relationship SUPRÉ consumers have with their best friends.

We placed one density pocket post into our content roster once a week, for a 2 week period.

This is when things got interesting. Below is a normal product post, next to a density pocket post.

Notice the difference in engagement.

Below we have the stats for this period, PTAT and Viral Reach. Notice in the days following the density pocket post both PTAT and viral reach doubled and then held that level for approx 7 days. There was no advertising running during this time.


To confirm our hypothesis we ran the test again, with a different set of images.

Again, you will notice PTAT and Viral reach doubled then held at that level for the following 7 days after the density pocket post was published. There was no advertising running during this time.

This second test confirms that highly engaging, density pocket posts can double your facebook reach for approx 7 days after you publish it. What's more promising is that if you continue this strategy and let it build momentum, your base reach continues to increase incrementally each time, further increasing the amount of consumers your brand can influence.

That's pretty effective, right?

I mean, we (and any other page with a similar size fan base) would have been looking to pay north of $300 each update to receive that extra amount of reach via a promoted post. What would you (or your clients) rather - gain the same level of reach for free via a smart content strategy, or pay for the privilege?

The latter avenue has always been an option available to marketers, often times the only option when they wanted to reach more consumers through traditional marketing mediums.  Facebook is now adopting this strategy too, which is a smart move, one that I and most other marketers should not fault it for.

The defining difference here however, and what makes facebook unique is that a deliberate and clearly defined content strategy can gain you hundreds to potentially tens of thousands of dollars worth of reach in the future, for free.

Some of you think facebook was being greedy and deceptive with this latest move. I think that by adopting similar advertising rules to its traditional media counterparts, it is proof facebook is maturing. Average content marketers will pay for the extra reach.  Smart ones, as we have proven above, can gain it for free.

On a final side note - You will never achieve the same levels of reach you had 6 months ago without advertising, that time has simply past. The point above is to prove that through sound strategy, you can dramatically increase your reach without spending money to make it happen. 


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Michael Watkins Mudo Media Michael Watkins
Company: Mudo Media
Position: Director
I built my first travel social network when i was nineteen after finishing high school, since then i have created another travel SN which is currently being beta tested and launched my own social media consultancy Mudo Media. Social Media facinates me because I see it as an evolution in human development, rather than a tech fad or gimmick Read Michael's full bio

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