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Expert: Social media isn’t a free way to advertise

The biggest recent development in social media is the conversion of all pages to what Facebook calls the Timeline. Previously individual and business profiles were similar. But on March 30, Facebook began instituting the Timeline format for individual users and a separate pages function for businesses.

Frank Owen, social media director, Mad Genius, Ridgeland, said “pages”’ for businesses is a real game-changer. It is already forcing some businesses to realize a painful set of insights:

*Not all brands lend themselves to achieving an effortless response by their audience in social media. There has been a “build it and they will come” attitude by some brands and that simply doesn’t work. The audiences of some businesses, organizations, and brands aren’t going to be truly interactive and engaged without being incentivized to do so.

*Social media isn’t a free way to advertise anymore, which was always another one of the great social media myths. The same essential rules that apply to traditional media apply to social media and that is–if a brand wants to achieve an impression it requires an investment. This includes Facebook ads and Google AdWords as part of an overall strategy.

Frank Owen

*Social media is not a panacea in and of itself; it is simply one other tool in the arsenal of marketers and it works best when aligned with concurrent efforts and strategies in advertising.

“Businesses and organizations in social media are no longer just having to concern themselves with the specific operations of their particular business,” Owen said. “Now they are, in effect, publishing their own magazine, their own online TV show, so to speak. Prior to March 30, many businesses had a nearly singular focus: the acquisition of more followers through different strategies so as to generate more “likes” of their page, such as running giveaways. These approaches are still a vital component, but now companies have to think about “like”-retention.”

The new changes to Facebook have shifted the focus. Content is king. Owen said now brands have to ask the question: To what degree is our content compelling?

“In effect, it is the same question newspapers, magazines, and TV shows have to ask themselves,” he said. “If content isn’t truly relevant and compelling to audiences, there simply won’t be engagement, and engagement is the new gold standard.”

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