Is Facebook Now Pay To Play?

by Chad Wittman on Nov 09, 2012
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As Facebook continues to grow as both a marketing platform and a business, marketers increasingly begin to look at Facebook as a Pay to Play model.

However, as with many things in this world, it’s not that simplistic.

Facebook has evolved past being just a social network with a massive audience that was a wide-open opportunity to reach unprecedented numbers of potential customers.

Facebook is still that place, however it now takes more than just showing up to take advantage of the marketplace.

The Old Strategy

The strategies of old, enabled a marketer to acquire fans and publish industry relevant content that would reach a fair amount of their fans. Facebook has evolved immensely from this outdated strategy.

Marketers must now spend time and money into developing unique and engaging content that translates well into the social space. In the event that a particular piece of content begins to receive a fair amount of traction, it is advised to amplify it with paid media. This is the new game.

The New Strategy

The new game involves an element of “Paying to Play”, however it is a far from an exclusive relationship.

Doing cool shit will only reach so far, but the reach can be extensive and immensely valuable. If that organic reach doesn’t satisfy the brand, investing in paid media is the answer to achieve any number you’d like.

It’s up to the brand to justify the ROI. Facebook is essentially becoming a crowded space, to get to the top you’ll need to do it better than anyone else or pay your way to the top, just like most forms of marketing.

This Was Inevitable

This “new” practice is not much different from many other forms of marketing. The challenge has shifted from one simply showing up to the marketplace to doing something better than anyone else. The brands that invest the time and energy in creating interesting content, will succeed. The brands that continue to push industry relevant content just for the sake of pushing content, will become extinct in the social space.

Look at the blogging industry.

Is blogging dead? No.

Are the days of creating a blog and publishing articles just to publish articles dead? Yes.

The blogging space demands that blogs are contributing real value to the ecosystem. This is the new Facebook.

There was a time and a place that creating a blog with a handful of articles published regularly drove results, however as the space became crowded this tactic no longer cuts it. Many blogs quickly died and many entrepreneurs’ dreams to make a quick easy million being a blogger were over just as quick.

We’re at a similar crossroad within the Facebook marketing space. The industry is cutting the fat, dreamers are being separated from innovators, it’s time to step up and contribute in a meaningful way to the industry.

Facebook is Pay to Play, only if you need it.

Post Author

Co-Founder & VP of Product at Dolly, an iPhone and Android app that is like Uber meets U-Haul or Lyft for Moving. Former Founder of EdgeRank Checker (acquired by Socialbakers)...

  • Robin Colner

    Neal, I agree with your analysis but the bar for producing innovative, valuable content is both super high and super low in terms of viral raw humor and satire that the Facebook model is moving more to a Pay to Play model.

  • Peter Quinn

    I like the piece. Facebook has been very tricky for us @ We are going to have to find some angle to rise above the crowd.

  • Facebook has systematically led marketers down the road to pay for play. By manipulating the EdgeRank algorithm they effectively open and close the money valve. Now that they have to answer to Wall Street, they have no qualms about screwing the brands who invested in apps, in brand pages and millions of dollars to build robust Facebook fan bases. By artificially limiting access and restricting content virility, they are selling us back, the fans we initially brought to them. And since Facebook is a closed system; they hold all the cards. So don’t be naive. Facebook is entirely a pay-for-play game and will only become more so as investors continue to pressure them.

  • Wendy Wood

    I think Danny states it well that in the end Facebook holds all the cards. And they have shown repeatedly that they don’t care about previous efforts to gain traffic and fans, only the next new way to get more money out of their businesses – even if it’s paying to access to fans you’ve already paid to recruit. At times it’s like trying to work on top of a speeding train that suddenly changes course. Just gotta hold on and hope for the best. ;)

    Wendy Litteral

  • The truth is that the drop in reach for many Pages is a caused by an increase of both organic and promoted posts in their fan’s Newsfeeds. Facebook has always used an algorithm to determine what Facebook users with most likely prefer in their increasingly noisy Newsfeeds.

    Marketers that are whining about all this need to put the tissues down and realize that promoted posts are simply one option among many to amplify reach. Saying that there’s new game of “Paying to Play” is not only untrue, it’s misleading to your readers. :-)

  • Where are the Winkelvoss twins when we need them? Jack