Are Facebook & Instagram Becoming Pay to Play? How to get the most out of your digital advertising campaigns

Are Facebook & Instagram Becoming Pay to Play? How to get the most out of your digital advertising campaigns

Is Social Media Becoming Pay to Play? 

Among social media strategists and specialists, it's no secret that platforms like Facebook and Instagram are increasingly leaning towards a "pay to play" model. But what does this mean for all of the small businesses and NFP's trying, often in vain, to get their products, brands and services in front of the right people? If you have been trudging away, posting across the socials, and find that your efforts are consistently going unrewarded, this article will help you to understand why.  As a small business or non-profit organisation striving to make an impact in the digital world, understanding the social media algorithms and their implications is crucial for staying ahead of the game.

Navigating the Pay to Play Reality

Gone are the days when organic reach ruled the roost on social media. With algorithms favouring paid content, it's becoming increasingly difficult to drive meaningful engagement without a digital advertising budget. EPIC Social, as a social media, marketing, coaching and branding business, has witnessed first-hand the challenges that small businesses and non-profits face in this landscape.

The Power of Paid Advertising

Let's take a closer look at the numbers. Statistics show that boosted posts on platforms like Facebook and Instagram significantly outperform non-boosted content in terms of reach and engagement. In fact, a recent study revealed that boosted posts reach an average of 7.03% of a page's audience, compared to just 1.47% for non-boosted posts. Let's try that another way: If your business Facebook page has 1000 followers, posting content without paying for a boost will result in approximately 14.7 people actually seeing what you have posted. 

14.7 people! And there is no guarantee that your content is overly relevant to those 14.7 at all. Meta reserves all of the best audience targeting features for the paid posts and ads, without those features, I'm afraid to say, your content is left flapping in the breeze.

Delving Deeper: The Importance of Social Media Specialists

In a pay to play environment, where every advertising dollar counts, partnering with social media specialists (kind of like EPIC Social...wink, wink) becomes essential. Engaging a social media specialist does come with a cost, which is why you will want to make sure you are partnering with an agency that really takes the time to truly understand your business and your customers, ensuring that your valuable advertising dollars are not wasted on ineffective strategies. 

As small businesses and/or NFP's, your digital advertising budget might be very very tight, if not non-existent. The same is probably true for your ability to allocate funds to keep a social media expert on retainer. If that is the case for you, you might consider just engaging a social media expert/ small business coach for one or two one on one sessions to get some advice that will help give your social game a little bit of a boost. You might also consider looking for a smaller agency that specialises in small business, rather than chasing the big accounts from the big brands. Agencies targeted towards small business will often have a more realistic pricing structure for a small business, so that you can just pay for what you need, and none of what you don't.

Driving Organic Traffic: Tips for Small Businesses

While paid advertising certainly dominates the space, especially when it comes to Facebook and Instagram, there are still ways to drive organic traffic to your  pages, even without an advertising budget. You do have to accept that these methods will have limitations and your growth and engagement will be much lower and slower. Here are five tips to help you get started:

  1. Create Compelling Content: Focus on producing high-quality, engaging content that resonates with your target audience. Whether it's informative blog posts, eye-catching visuals, or entertaining videos, compelling content is key to attracting organic traffic. Try to include a call to action that encourages the viewer to share your content among their network and on their pages. If you don't have the dollars to boost the post, getting your users to share it for you is a great way to spread the message, for free.

  2. Optimise Your Profiles: Make sure your Facebook and Instagram profiles are fully optimised with relevant keywords, a clear and concise bio, and eye-catching visuals. This will help improve your visibility in search results and attract more organic traffic to your pages. Search engine algorithms will always favour content that it thinks is helpful and useful, user friendly, and accessible.

  3. Engage with Your Audience: Don't just post and forget. Take the time to engage with your audience by responding to comments, answering questions, and initiating conversations. Building genuine connections with your followers will help increase engagement and attract more organic traffic to your pages. No matter who your audience is, one thing will be the same, always. People love to feel heard, appreciated and validated. Taking the time to connect with the people who took the time to engage with you, will place you in good stead, moving forward.

  4. Use Hashtags Strategically: Hashtags are a powerful tool for increasing visibility and reaching new audiences on social media. Research relevant hashtags in your niche and incorporate them strategically into your posts to expand your reach and attract more organic traffic. Don't get hash happy though as some algorithms will interpret this as spammy. Keep the amount of tags you use reasonable and relevant.

  5. Post Often, Consistency Is Key: Sit down and really try to plan out your social media posts. If you want to grow your following and customer base, you will want to place your brand in their field of vision, often. Think about brands that come to mind when you think about certain products or services to do with hardware, DIY, gardening. I bet that you can almost sing along with their advertising jingle in your head....Bunnings Warehouse anyone? They ensure that their brand dominates in the real world and they are consistently putting themselves in peoples filed of vision. Now, one day, I hope you have the kind of advertising budget that Bunnings have but for now, just start with posting quality content, often. Create a calendar and schedule your posts in advance, just don't forget to check in on them to see how they are doing. 

While social media may be increasingly pay to play, there are still opportunities for small businesses and non-profits to drive organic traffic and make an impact. By partnering with social media specialists that understand the unique challenges faced by small businesses and implementing strategic tactics, you can maximize your presence on platforms like Facebook and Instagram and be on your way to achieving your marketing goals.

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