In the good old days of Facebook advertising, the more Likes you had, the more people saw your brand message. With the Facebook algorithm change of October 2013 the most popular social media platform slowly changed to a paid channel for social media marketers. Organic audience Reach was severely throttled with only two to six percent of total fans now seeing content. "The advice then was for community managers to expect organic reach to approach zero by the end of the year." Reach is out, so should brands chase after Likes?
Money for Nothing
Facebook announced last week it will no longer allow Like-Gates. This is when you force a Facebook user to Like your Page before they can see content on a custom tab (for instance a contest entry form). From a Social Media Manager’s point of view, this was a very helpful tool to increase Likes quickly and affordably. Thin Pig Media made many custom Facebook tabs that incorporated this feature for our clients. A similar volume of Likes using a Facebook advertising Page Likes campaign could range anywhere from 3 cents to 3 dollars per Like. These results continue to be too erratic to predict ROI while Facebook experiments with what’s next for Likes.
While Facebook finds new ways to demand more dollars from business users, there is one important trick social media managers can use for free brand advertising -- the Facebook Check In. When a customer uses this feature on their smartphone, it is posted to their Timeline and appears in the News Feed for their Friends to see. Your Facebook Page appears tagged along with their comment, photo, and even who they were with. It does not show up in your brand Timeline or News Feed so here’s how you can put your customers’ social sharing skills to good use.
Call to Action
Offer your customers an incentive to 'Check In.' In the example below, an upscale hotel offers a free appetizer with drink purchase in the lounge just for showing the server a completed Facebook Check In on a smartphone. Besides advertising, it creates an opportunity for a great customer interaction. This works best for hotels, restaurants and retailers with storefronts. Find a reward that will encourage your core customers to share a Check In with their friends!
Facebook offers insights into how many people have used the Check In feature at your business so check it out! ...And then get creative and use Facebook 'free advertising' to your brand’s advantage.