Following Facebook’s platform changes to news sharing, we explore the impact on Aussie businesses and discover why it’s more important than ever for businesses to build audiences using diversification strategies and controllable digital assets.
Facebook’s ban on Australian news content on its social media platform will have far-reaching implications.
The move comes as legislation progressed through to the Senate seeking to make tech giants – including Facebook and Google – pay for news content on their platforms (https://www.bbc.com/news/world-australia-56099523).
The legislation is said to have bipartisan support (https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2021/jan/28/labor-set-to-support-media-code-but-says-pm-faces-serious-questions-after-google-threat).
Collateral damage from Facebook’s move included numerous government and NGO Facebook pages at a time when access to pandemic and emergency services updates are critical. (https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2021/feb/18/facebook-blocks-health-departments-charities-and-its-own-pages-in-botched-australia-news-ban).
Facebook insists this was an error, and is seeking to rectify the issue.
Facebook’s controversial move has been widely criticised by the global community, as the world keeps a close watch on the fallout, following reports the EU is considering similar moves to make big tech pay for news content (https://www.businessinsider.com/eu-australia-google-facebook-technology-2021-2).
Google, who will be similarly affected by the legislation if it passes, is reportedly in talks with major news media publications to negotiate access rights.
But what consequences will this have on the wider business community?
In this battle of the giants, the real victims will be the entrepreneurs who have built their businesses, communications and audiences around the social network.
Facebook has long since established itself as a crucial marketing partner within the global business landscape.
Most businesses list ‘increase social media following’ as a key marketing KPI.
It is the basis, and for some of us, the purpose of our marketing.
For more than a decade, Facebook has been the king of social media platforms. With more than 2.449 million global users and 80% penetration in Australia with 15 million users (wearesocial.com/au/digital-2020-australia), Facebook is by far the largest social media platform in the world.
For this reason, thousands of entrepreneurs (ourselves included) have developed strategies to increase followers, engagement and brand advocates across the platform.
We have created pages and groups, marketed our products and, of course, invested large sums of money to obtain the highly-sought ROI.
We became specialists of a platform that today makes us question: what happens if we ‘run out’ of Facebook?
Maybe it won't happen. Giants like that don't vanish overnight… do they? (*cough* MySpace *cough*).
Social media is a lucrative business, not only for Mr Zuckerberg but also for the Australian Government who wants to charge for the sharing of news media.
And we're caught in between them... with a lot of questions.
Will they have a solution soon? We don’t know.
Will we return to the ‘old normal’?
If COVID-19 taught us anything, it’s that ‘normal’ is a slippery thing to define.
What we do know, is that this event has revealed how vulnerable we are.
This isn’t the first time Facebook has changed the rules of the digital marketing game overnight, and it likely won’t be the last.
Those of us who work in digital marketing have been exposed to its ‘algorithm changes’ numerous times, each time requiring a re-evaluation of our social media marketing models.
However, what we see today is the worrying evidence that we might be investing our hard-earned marketing budgets to grow a third-party’s business, instead of leveraging from it.
Are you using the right strategy?
To briefly explain a common digital marketing strategy, Facebook is referred to as a Shared media.
Without being too techy, it forms part of the PESO Strategy.
The purpose of this strategy is to differentiate between Paid media such as advertising, Earned media such as word of mouth, Shared media such as social media platforms and Owned media such as your company’s website.
To summarise, it’s about the level of control your brand has over the media type.
Shared media means they are not owned by the brand.
They are not digital assets that the brand fully controls. We only manage them. They are not free, as the brand has to pay to grow on it.
These platforms are nothing without a community that express their opinions on it.
From this perspective, what ‘we have’ on Facebook actually belongs to Facebook.
They have the power over ‘our’ page, groups and followers in which we have invested time, money and effort.
So, how can you be prepared?
If 2020 taught us to become digital transformation Ninjas, 2021 will require we become Sensei Masters in audience management and demand generation.
We must invest in our own digital assets, keeping them stocked with relevant content that connects with the interests and intentions of our audiences.
But this isn’t Mission Impossible.
The ‘trick’ is to leverage digital tools and take advantage of shared media for our growth.
It requires taking our audiences by the hand and choosing to build a growth marketing strategy that triggers demand generation through a digital ecosystem we can control.
This strategy is only supported by social networks, not controlled by them.
Other sources of traffic are managed through Marketing, Sales and CRM tools such as HubSpot.
Finally, the emphasis is on us to grow our own brands.
To invest in digital assets we have complete control over.
So that next time Facebook flicks a switch, our entire business strategy isn’t at stake.
The followers must be within the digital assets we have control over, such as our website, blog and email databases.
To discover what Fileroom is doing to help Australian businesses safeguard access to their audiences, visit our website at fileroom.com.