2014: The Year of Pay to Play in Social Media

As the new year starts to unfold, we see a multitude of articles offering up predictions for the 2014.  From fashion, to music, to the economy and of course, social media. What’s funny about these predictions, is, well they are predictable.  Some of them foretell the death of Facebook (not going to happen) while others predict that Google+ will be the king of social networks this year (Want to know a secret?  Google+ isn’t a social network the way most define it).  So, what do you believe?  What predictions are on the mark and what predictions are just plain silly?  Look at the history or experience of the people making the predictions and use common sense!

With all of that being said, I can confidently state: 2014 will be The Year of Pay to Play in Social Media.

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In December, TechCrunch published an article, Facebook: Brands Will Have to Work Harder (Or Buy Ads) For Your Attention – But Fans Still Matter.  The post highlighted what Facebook finally admitted – and brand managers suspected – organic, or non-paid reach for business pages had been decreasing.  Why?  Mainly because Facebook is not showing that content in the newsfeed.  According to Facebook their Billion plus users are sharing so much content that a business breaking through that noise is unlikely just by sharing content organically.  The solution? Promoted Posts and paying to advertise your page. If you have a business page on Facebook, you have probably noticed your reach decreasing and, if you want to reverse that trend, you will have to pay.

So, on Facebook, it is definitely Pay to Play for businesses. What about the other platforms?  Google+ is testing ads that will show up in their newsfeed, promoted accounts and Tweets have been part of Twitter for years, plus you can pay to monetize your Video’s on YouTube.  In other words, pay to play isn’t new, it’s just becoming more apparent and necessary.

One of the fallacies of social media over the years has been it’s free or low-cost. Thankfully that is not true or I wouldn’t be able to pay my bills. Social media is a tool, or a set of tools just like direct mail, advertising, PR and everything else that you can fit under the umbrella term of marketing. However, it is not free. Never has been. Never will be. Especially now.  Business owners, marketing professionals, social media consultants, et.al, must face the fact that to cut through the clutter of these various social platforms will require advertising. In addition to advertising, it will require a well planned strategy that includes using and utilizing the social platforms that fit into the niche or target demographics of the  business.

Paying to Play on Social Media also highlights the importance of a business optimizing their own website, but more on that later.

No matter what social platform or platforms you decide to hang your business hat on, get ready to pay; in 2014 and beyond. Those are my thoughts; what are yours?  Will you pay to play?

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