An Apologetic Digital Marketer

Two weeks ago, Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg posted about a significant shift in the direction of his social network. The headlining portion of his post was:

As we roll this out, you’ll see less public content like posts from businesses, brands, and media. And the public content you see more will be held to the same standard — it should encourage meaningful interactions between people.

This of course had digital marketers in a panic. Could this be the kiss of death for the most valuable social advertising channel?

I think that is an unfair question - namely because it is lumping two approaches of social advertising in one group - and although the answer to each question is the same, the reasons why are very dependent on which approach you take.

Let us first look at the historical approach:

Is this the end of brands utilizing Facebook as a valid organic (free) advertising vehicle?

With this being the more obvious question, I think the answer is less than obvious. I would suggest the answer is 'no'.  But I would suggest this only because organic reach on Facebook has been dead for several years.


With organic reach in the single digits, should we really worry about it getting worse?  That ship has sailed.

Now the second approach:

Is this the end of brands utilizing Facebook as a valid paid advertising vehicle?

No way.  Facebook is a publicly traded company that generates over $10 BILLION per quarter in advertising revenue.  As their CEO, Zuckerberg has a fiduciary responsibility to keep their 40% year-over-year growth trending positively.

But changes in newsfeed algorithms could force the hand of advertisers.  For nearly a decade, digital advertising has been viewed more as a hack than a part of a cohesive strategy.  Those days are over.  Digital advertising is no longer about advertising cheaply to the masses, but instead advertising efficiently to masses of individual persons.

The distinction is subtle, but important.  It means scaling the personal conversation - hundreds and thousands of personalized conversations.  That is a far cry from one message being broadcast to thousands of searchers.  It is no longer a digital billboard.

If we are looking to mourn the loss of a digital marketing powerhouse, let's mourn the loss of growth-hacking.  Growth-hacking is dead.

Again from Zuckerberg's post:

Based on this, we’re making a major change to how we build Facebook. I’m changing the goal I give our product teams from focusing on helping you find relevant content to helping you have more meaningful social interactions.

If you are seeing declining value from your social or PPC advertising strategy, it is likely because you are still advertising like it is 2008 - you are capitalizing on the AdWords or Facebook hack.  Your buyers have become more sophisticated and your marketing needs to become more sophisticated, too.