Facebook’s Race To 0% Organic Reach (And Why We Should Embrace It)

- - Business

facebook-organic-reach-picFacebook’s organic reach for pages is plummeting, and I for one cannot wait for it to be 0%.

For the last couple of years, I’ve read a lot of long stories and short tweets about Facebook’s organic reach for Pages dropping. There was early speculation that posts by a Page “didn’t reach everybody”, which of course was true. Not too long after that, brand managers were upset because their content was suddenly being seen by less than 50% of their total fans. Late in 2013, several reports showed that organic reach had dipped to under 20%, and as of last week we are seeing studies and hearing rumors that it will drop to 1-3%.

I will say it again: I am quite anxious for the total organic reach to bottom out at 0%.

Now don’t get me wrong; I’ve enjoyed the free ride as much as anybody. For years, Singley + Mackie has been able to create rich content for our clients that we syndicated on Facebook and other channels. When we would post something on behalf of the brands we work for, quite a few fans of the page would be able to see it, and hopefully would engage or share in some meaningful way. But times have changed, you need to accept that the free ride is over, and rightfully so.

Let me ask you a string of rhetorical questions. How many television ads are free to the company that wants to air them? How about radio spots? Magazine and newspaper ads? Billboards? The fact is, marketing your brand costs money. If you want to be seen or heard, you need to pay for it. Why then are people complaining about this regarding Facebook? Is it because it used to be free?

Facebook is now a publicly traded company. With that comes the reality that they have to make money, and even when they have made a lot of it, they have to make more. That’s how public companies work.  It should come as no surprise then that organic reach has dropped, and I now view the 1-3% organic reach as a bonus. If I bought a block of television advertising and the channel gave me 3% bonus airtime for free, I would be thrilled. This is my new attitude regarding Facebook pages; I am happy with any organic reach at all, because it really is just a bonus.

notificationsIf we can all accept this new reality of Facebook marketing, then we can quit holding out for free, magical, viral things to happen; because they are not going to happen.  The new rule of Facebook marketing is that brands will have to put some budget behind their efforts if they want them to be seen. Consumers still have the option to get notifications (they can scroll down on the Like button and check this feature so they don’t miss a single post), but as a brand manager you cannot rely on that happening.

My advice to brand managers and agencies is this: start having the budget talks now, so when it is time to allocate for paid and earned media, all of the time and effort you have put into Facebook marketing to date is not lost.  A good rule of thumb is to make sure that your Facebook paid media budget is at least 1x your budget for content creation or application development budgets. Facebook would recommend that the paid media budget is at least 4x and often times big brands will allocate budgets of 10x or more.

Let’s quit complaining about how Facebook used to be, and start accepting how it actually is. Facebook is now a paid channel, just like everything else in marketing.

A parting thought: Twitter went public late last year. I wonder what conversation we’ll be having about its organic reach at this time next year…

Anatomy of a Successful Day

- - Leadership, Productivity

I’m not going to hit you with inspirational quotes about productivity, I’m sure you have seen them all. While a clever, Instagrammed saying about getting things done is easy enough to post to Facebook with an emphatic “Truth!” as your only comment, what really will help you get ahead is managing your time well, perhaps even creating a time budget. (BTW, that’s not me in the picture at the top…it’s the amazing @BrandonHeidt moving giant MONOPOLY prop pieces around the office).

I decided to share with you what a successful day looks like for me. Although I tend to follow patterns, each day does differ a little, but this is what an ideal day is for me.

5:30am – Alarm goes off. I throw on a robe and go downstairs to make breakfast (3 egg whites, 1 egg yolk, 1 piece of dry whole-wheat toast, 1 Sugar Free Rockstar, 1 piece of fruit)

5:45am – Review banking and stocks.  Anything that needs to change by the opening bell? Set up the order if so.  1st look at email, and reply to anything that is time-sensitive (note: while some people choose to sleep with their phones by their bed, I think this is destructive to natural rest patterns. I don’t check email at night, and wait until I am out of my room and downstairs to start in the morning).

6:30am – Go on morning bike ride. Distance will vary depending on morning schedule, but usually 20 to 40 miles.  It might be tough to get going, but after the fact, I have never regretted starting my day with exercise. Sometimes I listen to music, but usually I don’t and prefer to be with my thoughts while biking around the Santa Monica Mountains.@RideCannondale

9:00 am – Sitting at desk, review reports from client accounts that were created overnight. Anything that I need to take action on right away? If so, execute or assign the task.  I also open up my to-do list that I created in Word from the prior day, and prioritize as necessary. Review personal social networks (usually Facebook, Twitter and Strava) and post anything I feel is necessary, then close them. (I think that leaving personal social networks open is like sleeping with your phone next to your bed…it creates an artificial sense of urgency and anticipation that is destructive to normal work flow).

9:00am to 12:30pm – Morning work. I don’t allow my email to pop-up or chime, which breaks up creative flow, but I do check it at regular intervals.

12:30pm to 1:00pm – Usually I take a short lunch, and will eat at my desk or take a walk outside. I use this time to call my wife and say hello, or catch up on personal business. If we have a client or staff lunch planned, obviously I take more time.

1:00pm to 5:30pm – Check email and social networks again upon returning from lunch. Review and execute client requests. Check in with Singley + Mackie employees, answer questions, help with strategy or execution of campaigns. I get a lot of work done in the afternoon, and this is typically when most requests come in.

5:30pm to 8:30pm – Family time. With four kids, every night is different, but it usually involves helping with homework, doing something with soccer and eating dinner with everybody at the table. Our entire family sits down for dinner together at least 5x per week, but usually we manage all 7 nights. It’s important that I focus on my family during this time, so I usually will not have my mobile phones or tablets with me unless a mission-critical project is being launched.

8:30pm to 8:45pm – Final check on email. If something needs attention I do it, otherwise, it’s time to shut the computer off.

9:00pm – Time for bed! Read a book (fiction, not business) to settle my mind, and get a good night of sleep. I always try to get enough shut-eye at night, the alternative can be very bad.

I cannot tell you that every day happens like this. In fact, the ability to be nimble and change depending on business or family needs is something that I strive for. If a client needs something important and it’s not in my “normal” work schedule, they will get it. If one of my kids calls me in the middle of the day because they are sick and need to be picked up from school, I will stop what I am doing and go get them. If my wife wants to have a spontaneous lunch date, I jump at the opportunity.

However, the bottom-line is this: a schedule can drastically increase productivity by cutting out distractions. Stay in the moment of what you are doing and who you are with instead of being anxious about what is next. Regular exercise and plenty of sleep will prepare you for the crazy and the unexpected, and will certainly keep you sharp for the everyday and the ordinary.

The Best Time To Start Is Today

- - Productivity

That thing that you have been meaning to do, but haven’t started? I want to let you know that the best time to start it is today.

The business plan you want to write up? A daily exercise routine? A new app idea? A blog about your passion? Every day you will convince yourself that there are dozens of reasons that you cannot start today. It’s too overwhelming. It’s too hot (or cold) outside. It’s too hard to explain. You’re too busy. You review your mental list of why you have to put it off until tomorrow or next week, then move on with your day.  The thing is, you have been intending to do it “tomorrow” for the last several months…or even the last several years.

Don’t let that mental list of reasons of why you can’t get in your way. Figure out what the very first step is and do it. You don’t need to complete it today, you don’t even have to get very far with it today. But you should start it today.

Now, close Twitter and Facebook and take the first step. Today is the best time to start.

The Return of Blogging

- - Business

With the exception of a couple of videos that I liked, I haven’t posted anything of substance on this blog since February 28, 2011…almost 2.5 years ago. As somebody who has consistently blogged since 2000, a lot of people asked me why I tapered off and then stopped altogether.  The answer is fairly simply, really: there were other outlets that proved to be a better use of my time, and in which I saw greater reward.

To me, marketing has always been about finding opportunities to stand out from the other person or company. It’s about being found among too many choices. It’s about getting somebody’s attention so that you can (hopefully) deliver something of value to them. Several years ago, blogging had become such an over-saturated way of conveying messages that people stopped paying attention as much.  More so than anything, Twitter changed communication for me. Five years ago, I found communication through Twitter to be far more effective, and delivering my message (or those of clients) was best done there. The picture at the top of this post is the first tweet I ever sent out that contained a username and a link to content…and I’ve hardly looked back since.

Now, halfway through 2013, Twitter has a lot of noise. Not just Twitter, but also Facebook and the other popular social networks. Brands have moved in and spent insane amounts of money to put ads on your sidebars and into your timelines (I know this because I have helped many of them to do so).  I still love Twitter, but social media has become one hell of an echo chamber, and I don’t feel it is the most effective way to stand out with a message.

I believe in cyclical behavior. Although technology will continue to expand and amaze us, I think that human behavior behaves more like a pendulum than a growth-chart that always goes up and to the right.  I think the pendulum is swinging back, and though I don’t think Facebook and Twitter are going anyway but up, I think that blogging will make a nice resurgence over the next 18 months as a truly viable way to grow, engage and convert audiences to your message/product/cause.  Because of all of this, I believe that blogging is swinging back to being a good use of my time, and that I will start to see a greater reward from it than a few years ago.

As a CEO, I get to experience a lot…both successes and failure. I’m excited to share the things I have learned, and continue to learn, with you.

And so we shall see if this prediction of a blogging resurgence comes true.  It’s not a risky position for me to take, nor a wild prognostication to bet on, as blogging has never really gone away, it’s just adapted to the market.  No, something crazy would be predicting the use of direct-mail pieces as an effective way to reach your audience. Guess what? I actually do believe that is starting to have some truth in it, but that is another post for another time.

Don Draper Presents Facebook Timeline Mad Men Style (Video)

- - videos, YouTube

I absolutely love this. As a professional ad man myself, I’m fascinated with Mad Men and the dialogue, particularly between agency and client. With the very recent announcements of new Facebook timeline features, social media is buzzing with what the implications may be. In the circles I run in, a lot of people wonder how the changes affect brand advertising and engagement. If you are one of the 800 million people that use Facebook (and I’m guessing you are) do yourself a favor and watch this short video, it’s only a few minutes long.

Big props to Eric Leist for putting this together. Brilliant! If you want to watch this on Vidler, here is the original video. I love the description:

Who knew that Facebook’s newest feature was originally conceived by the Mad Men of the 1960s? In all seriousness the most compelling elements of Facebook’s Timeline are the ones that made Kodak’s Carousel popular. Reminiscing is a social activity. It always has been and now Facebook is bringing that activity online.

Creating A Time Budget

- - Business, Productivity

Time Flies!You can tell your friends that you aren’t doing as well as you could with your business because you don’t have as much money as your competitor.  That may be true.

You can convince yourself that the reason you’re not the best in your industry is because you don’t have as many employees as the other guys. That may be true also.

You can even try to explain to those around you that if you had gone to this school or that, or if you had only acted upon your gut way back when, you would be ahead of the game right now. Again, this might be accurate.

The one thing you cannot hide behind, however, is lack of hours in the day.  You are given the same as everybody else.  In this area, nobody can out pace you or buy more than you, we all work with the same 24 hour clock.  It’s what you do with that time that is important.  I’m telling you this because it’s something I have to remind myself of almost every single day…I am bombarded by emails, phone calls, content calendars, sweepstakes rules, legal department hurdles, Facebook advertising optimization and a hundred other things every day.  When you add to it the fact that I actually like spending time with my family at home (yes, all four kids), I realize that it would be very easy each and every day to complain that I don’t have enough time.

That’s a ridiculous complaint, however.  I do have enough time, I have just as much as you do, and my competitors have just as much as all of us.  Instead of praying for a 28 hour day, it’s time to accept the fact that we all need to work with 24 hours; so more isn’t the answers, but efficiency and prioritization are.  It may be time for you to make a  ”time budget”.

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The Art of Decision Making In Social Media

Making business and social media decisions requires proper timing but not hesitationThe way people approach decisions is fascinating. Not all decisions are created equal of course; there are those that require immediate action or opportunity will be lost, while others are best decided after careful consideration and research. The weight of each type of decision varies, as do the repercussions for acting quickly or being too slow.

In business, the majority of people tend to flip-flop the decision process. Sometimes easy questions or calls to action come about, and usually they can be handled simply by giving it a little thought and making a decision. However, most people tend to slow these down by moving the decision to be made to a larger group…emails are drafted, many people are CCd and doubt is dispersed in many forms, including questions like “what do you think we should do?” and the single-word pass-off, “thoughts?” Unfortunately, making mountains out of mole holes is commonplace in today’s business world.

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5 Social Media Gifts I Want From Santa

Matt Singley and Santa Clause Christmas 2010

All I want for Christmas (besides this creepy photo) is on my Social Media wish list

The holidays are upon us! Some celebrate Hanukkah, some celebrate Solstice, some celebrate Christmas. No matter your preference, I think we can all agree it’s a great time to reflect on the year behind us, be thankful for what we have today, and look to next year with hope and expectations.  Given the spirit of the season, I’ve put together a little list of things that I’ve asked Santa Clause for this year…in social media.  It’s a crazy list for sure, but if my 5 year old son can ask for a trip to the moon (and expect it to happen) I can dream big too!  I’m going to put out a plate of extra-special cookies and hope that ol’ Saint Nick brings me…

  • Hyperlinks within Tweets. Can you imagine having an extra 20 spaces or so (that’s what a typical bit.ly link takes up) to say whatever you want? Instead of a tweet looking like this: “Check out this post I wrote about the upcoming Facebook Page Admin Controls and let me know what you are looking fwd to http://bit.ly/g7B3Zc” (exactly 140 characters) it would look like this: “Check out this post I wrote about the upcoming Facebook Page Admin Controls and let me know what you are looking fwd to the very most y’all!” (still 140 characters but with more room to chat!)
  • Robust Admin Controls for Facebook Pages. I saw a sneak peak of them a while back when Facebook accidentally rolled out some new changes (you can see what I saw here) and it was definitely a step in the right direction.  Still, I would like better Insights (analytics) and the ability to ban users from a page without just flagging them.  I don’t want to wait for somebody at Facebook to *maybe* get around to it at some point. I get REALLY tired of the “first” and “gay” comments that go up on large pages all the time, but I have no tolerance for users that use hate language, attack individuals, constantly swear or link to porn
  • Overlay for YouTube videos. No, not just annotations, I want to be able to overlay the videos with graphic images.  You know…put a floating logo in the bottom corner (clickable of course), insert a graphic in the background…neat things like that. Sure, I can do this in a video editor then upload, but I would like to use full controls within YouTube proper so I can make cool SWF commands happen
  • Lists for friends in Foursquare. I treat Foursquare in a similar way as Twitter but with slightly tighter control.  Knowing that, I have a lot of “friends” on Foursquare that I would like to break into smaller groups so I can check on them in a more controlled and manageable way.  Kind of like Twitter Lists, but for Foursquare.  Foursquare Lists, anyone?
  • Dynamic backgrounds on Twitter. Everything else with Twitter has advanced over time…why not the backgrounds? Since the redesign, putting together a nice background (within the whopping 40 pixels on the left for people that view the page on a 1024×768 screen) has been a challenge to say the least.  Instead of outdated CSS and a static image I would love some basic HTML function so I could put up links to my other pages

We’ll see if I’ve been naughty or nice, I’m hoping to get these simple gifts under the virtual Christmas tree this year.  As you head into the weekend (hopefully with loved ones), I will leave you with a paraphrase of a famous work:

He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,

And wrote up the meta tags, then turned with a jerk,

And laying his mouse aside of his nose,

And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose;

He sprang to his keyboard, to his team gave a whistle,

And away they all coded like the down of a thistle.

But I heard him exclaim, ere he uploaded out of sight,

“Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good-night.”