Leveraging Social Media for your Business in the new ‘Pay to Play’ World

For businesses, social media has become a ‘pay to play’ model. What does that mean? Key social media platforms (including Facebook, Instagram, Twitter & Linked In) have changed their algorithms to encourage paid advertising and sponsored content.  Pay to Play is here to stay!

As a result of this new model, Modern Connection have estimated that business pages have lost 40-80% viewership of their posts and according to Adweek: “Company Facebook pages reach as little as 2.6% of their followers.”

What does this mean? For individual users it means that an algorithm creates your news feed based on a combination of content popularity, interaction with other followers & targeted paid advertising. It means that when your post an update about your weekend antics it will be seen by approximately 10% of your followers. This may be great news if you had a few too many drinks at your ex boyfriend’s wedding, but it’s not so great for businesses where the statistic of followers who will see an average post is more likely to be only 5%. If you’re primarily using Social Media to drive sales or advertise promotions then it’s time to re-think your approach to increase the effectiveness of your communication and expand your reach.

So what’s the good news? While the game has definitively changed, here’s our 5 step approach for your business to successfully leverage social media in this pay to play world:

  • Develop a Plan & Set a Budget:Start by articulating your objectives. Don’t just chase likes! Set yourself up for success by defining what you want to achieve, who you want to reach, and the key message/s you want to convey.  Choose the social media platform/s where your target market are and make the most sense for your business. Develop a plan for your content and set a budget to reach more people via advertising and ‘boosting’ posts. You may put aside as little as $10 every time you want to play, but in this pay to play world you will need to spend money to make sure your content is seen, even by your current followers.
  • To maximize your impact and build engagement, content is crucial.Develop content that’s integrated with your offline branding & communication. Use pictures and video as they’re more clicked on and more often shared than words alone. As in life, people are looking for IDEAS, inspiration, confidence, seeking to find a path forward or businesses and people with common ideals. Be brave: you’ll be rewarded for trying something new and different, just make sure your imagery is consistent and each post helps to tell your story.
  • Engage:Respond. Like. Follow. Comment. Share. Recommend. Be online when your customers are, be an active part of the community and target who you want to engage with & reach – from complimentary local businesses to influential people, popular sites, inspiration and potential new clients, it pays to be strategic. Set a clear strategy for converting likes to sales and leverage interest and popularity into tangible sales via promotions, offers, competitions, sneak peaks, behind the scenes access and promoting new product lines, events and sales.
  • Timing is everything.To maximise organic (non-paid) reach through your followers, schedule posts for when they’ll have the most impact… or use an app that allows you to schedule posts in advance. We use and recommend Hootsuite for Business but there are a number of other apps and programs which help to identify the most effective times to post. Consider when people are browsing, planning or making their purchasing decisions and plan your advertising accordingly.
  • Be Focused.Consider who your target market is and be very clear about not only their demographics (age, relationship status, where they live, lifestage) but also their interests, likes & hobbies. Platforms like Facebook enable you to develop highly targeted advertising & if you combine this focus with a strong call to action (eg: buy now, enrol today, call for a free quote) and your most engaging posts, then you’ll see great results.

In this pay to play world, by starting with a clear strategy, building impactful, considered content and amplifying it though targeted & timely advertising, social media can still help your business grow!

Don’t know where to start? Let us develop and implement a social media strategy for your business so you can focus on what you do best!

With our unique blend of big-brand experience and small business nouse you can trust us to deliver fantastic, cost effective results for your marketing projects, big or small. Contact today for a free initial discussion. We’ll even shout you a coffee!

Author: Sarah Ford
BlueFish Director & Marketing Specialist, Sarah Ford, has over 23 years' experience in brand management – 10 of those at Marketing Manager and Director levels and a further eight years in Retail Management. Passionate about marketing, Sarah understands the complexities of the consumer landscape and is known for her ability to create practical, cost-effective plans, which stand-out with consumers and meet business objectives. Sarah established BlueFish Marketing in 2009 and continues to provide marketing support on a campaign or project basis. Recent clients include JBS Foods, FreeTV Australia, Unilever, Paradigm Foods, MFA, Connecting Finance, Jurlique Int, Moving Mannequins, SCAD Research Inc, Little Chomps, Mummymetime and many more.
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