The Future as Seen by Facebook

Whether you think of Facebook as a brilliant business play or an evil social monolith attempting to control us all, you can count on one thing: From now on, some business posts won’t be going viral.

Facebook has announced it will no longer allow the practice of “organic reach” for notices that look too much like pure advertising by businesses and brands. That means your business can’t post what amounts to an advertisement and expect it to show up in the News Feed across the network. Instead, you can pay Facebook for ad space.

The effect of this decision will be felt especially by all the marketing staffers who have spent years learning how to create posts that get traction on Facebook. They will now have to figure out new ways to have their business voice heard, and they might have some leeway. There are big differences between a post that promotes pricing of your professional services and a post that offers perspective on aspects of new legislation — or alternatively, a post that reminds people to start gathering their papers in preparation for tax season. You can also still dream of Facebook superstardom by devising a gimmick like last year’s ice bucket challenge brought to you by the ALS Association.

Many have criticized Facebook’s move on organic reach as unfair, but as PRWeek pointed out recently, the decision is “a stark reminder that brands don’t own the audience they access on the network: They simply rent it from Facebook.”

In a way, it mirrors the old newspaper model, where the monopoly gatherer of eyeballs could jack up advertising prices every year with impunity — until the Internet happened and unleashed competition like Facebook. This means you will have to continue to be vigilant and evaluate your marketing opportunities and potential, just as you have always done.

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