2014-23-May-Social-Channels.jpgAccording to a recent study from EdgeRank Checker that analyzed 50,000 posts from 1,000 brand Facebook pages, Facebook’s organic reach has been on the steady decline over the past two years. Marketers should realize that this decline is not only natural, but unavoidable. While user growth -- the goal of every social network -- will increase the amount of social status updates, the total amount of time people have to view this content will not.

To remain successful, marketers have to understand the implications of social media data ownership and monetization. Brands have spent a lot of money building their "likes" so they could harness Facebook as a channel within an overall marketing efforts.

Going forward, however, Facebook will continue to tweak its filtering algorithm to hide and show content according to the investments made by brand marketers. Without paying, brands’ content may never appear in their customers’ feed. So, what should marketers and brands do to use social channels to build an audience and take advantage of the available customer data?

Recognize Who Owns the Channel

First, brands need to truly understand every channel they invest in and make sure they are extracting as much value as possible. If I were a brand that had spent millions of dollars building my social fan base, I would ask myself questions like, “Will this channel remain free forever?” and “If this company goes public, won’t they have pressure to prove a monetization strategy?”

The reality is that brands that invested heavily in social effectively captured subscribers on a channel they do not (and will not ever) fully own. The Facebook lesson is a great one to learn from. To be clear, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and Foursquare are all for profit businesses that ultimately need to show a return for investors. None of these companies are enterprise technology plays that charge brands a license fee. They are consumer products and if you want play, you must pay (whether it’s now or in the future).