April 9th 2014 has passed – the day Facebook announced further changes to its advertising options, including the end of sponsored stories and the beginning of (the euphemistically phrased) “improved targeting options”. These new developments come as no surprise, as Facebook’s intentions to shift towards paid advertising have been abundantly clear for some time now, particularly after it killed organic reach for business pages in December of last year.

Time to dig deep—into your pockets
This move by the social media powerhouse is understandable, however, given the vast number of businesses vying to get their content seen. The only way to prevent Facebook from becoming nothing more than a virtual billboard is to get businesses to start paying for that precious limited space. This means that overall organic reach of business posts on Facebook is in steady decline;
Facebook spokespersons have confirmed this, stating that the best way to get your brand’s content seen is to pay for it—plain and simple.

Although Facebook’s increasingly monetised approach to its ad options has sparked indignation, the reality is that social networks are media platforms and businesses just like any other: they are capitalising on an opportunity to make money while protecting their users from being flooded with excessive amounts of advertising content.

Twitter is following suit, and has increased its advertising options to include promoted accounts, promoted tweets and promoted trends. Meanwhile, other social media platforms are no doubt exploring their paid advertising options as well.

Not the end of the world
So as a business owner, what can you do to get around social media’s new thrust to make businesses pay to maximise the reach of their content? Unfortunately, in the case of Facebook, you’ve got to bite the bullet and pay up if you want your content (and your brand) to get noticed. However, there are other ways to promote your business with social media beyond the realm of paid Facebook advertising.

The first important step is to diversify your social media presence. Don’t rely on Facebook as your only means of creating brand awareness and building your online audience. Instagram and Pinterest are brilliant, fast-growing social networks that afford businesses endless scope for creative, dynamic social media marketing—at no cost.

The second step: get innovative! There are different ways of employing social media that are more effective than simply sharing branded content with your followers. At Point and Stare, we help businesses to promote their brand through live, interactive Twitter and Instagram feeds projected on screens throughout their business’s events. By using customised hashtags and URLs, you can maximise your marketing spend and get the most out of social media before, during and after your corporate event; this way, your marketing budget doesn’t have to be entirely allocated to Facebook posts.

When life gives you lemons…
While business owners round the world lament the end of the golden age of free social media advertising, we prefer to look at the silver lining. Rather than resting on your laurels and getting lost amidst the millions of businesses glutting Facebook, use the shift towards paid ad options to give you the incentive to revitalise your online marketing strategy and start engaging your imagination.

If you need a helping hand along the way, at Point and Stare, we’d be more than happy to show what an outside-the-box approach could do to promote your brand. To find out more, contact us today.