Social media was once considered a free medium where brands could organically build their networks of fans and followers. But it has become a competitive marketplace where sponsored content reigns supreme. Will it pay off?

Facebook Charges for Reach

This week, Facebook announced it would adjust the way posts are featured in users' news feeds. By focusing on what it calls "high-quality content," Facebook explained it would make things like “meme photos” harder to see, while boosting content shared from quality sites (of course, we're not exactly sure how they will determine what is a quality site).

In a way, this is good. Previously, Facebook ranked all posts with photos or video the same. Now, it is trying to distinguish between types of photos based on their perceived value. 

As a result, some Facebook page managers may have noticed the reach of their posts decline. The average Facebook page engages roughly 1 percent of its fans, so a page with 66,000 fans may have been organically reaching 660 of its fans with each post. Now that reach has dropped considerable — on purpose. 

Facebook is making it crystal clear that it wants marketers to consider paid distribution "to maximize delivery" of messages in news feeds. The idea is to make Facebook a competitive marketplace for branded content.

For a time, brands have been able to capture a consistent percentage of their fan base.  Now, all bets are off. It's not terribly surprising, though it is a little disappointing. Facebook has become as synonymous with business advertising as billboards and newspapers once were.

Those who happened to be on Facebook from the beginning will have benefitted the most, since they were able to gain a majority of their fans for free. Those jumping on the Facebook bandwagon now will likely find it more difficult to organically develop their fan base. But for the right amount of money, they can catch up. 

Social Bro Automates the Rules

SocialBro, the Twitter management dashboard, has evolved considerably over the past two years. In May, it introduced new Twitter analytics features that analyze the content shared on Twitter as well as the users that have interacted with that content. In August, it integrated with Salesforce and Nimble social CRM in an effort to provide even more sources for generating leads.

This week, SocialBro launched Rule Builder, a new tool that lets users leverage predetermined criteria to organize their followers and better personalize the interactions they experience with the business. 

Rule Builder attempts to make automation for Twitter useful. Automation is a dirty word in the Twitter world — often resulting in auto-tweets or direct messages that are annoying and creepy. For Social Bro, automation can mean automatically adding a new follower to a particular list based on information such as their location or keywords in their bio — all in an effort to streamline Twitter management so managers can focus on engaging and nurturing relationships with followers. 

Tumblr Announces Sponsored Trending Blogs

Eleven days after Yahoo bought Tumblr, they launched a ‘native’ ad product for the microblogging platform. The ads sit inside a user’s dashboard, the place where Tumblr users view content within Tumblr, labeled with a dollar sign ($) to indicate they’re sponsored. Now, brands are able to purchase space through the new Sponsored Trending Blogs unit.

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The ads will appear in a popular area for mobile Tumblr users with the goal of pushing advertisers Tumblr blogs in front of people browsing content under the Explore tab in the Tumblr for iOS and Android applications. New sponsored content will also show a dollar sign to identify them.

The ads will start to appear in January, but sponsors already include Calvin Klein Turner Broadcasting, Delta, Twentieth Century Fox, and Sony Pictures Entertainment.