So Grant Cardone has spent “millions” on growing an audience on Facebook, and he's threatening to throw it all away and go to YouTube.
He's upset that Facebook is “throttling” how many people see his posts, they longer get the results they once did.
Now, watching this 60 year old rant like some sort of entitled millenial instabore, pining after “his” free traffic shows how badly he has mistaken how his relationship with Facebook actually works.
Just like in real life, paying for a product doesn't give you the right to a freebie when you decide you want one.
Here is how media relationships work, boiled down to its bare bones:
- When you pay for advertising, you are the customer.
- When you create “free” content, you are the product.
Actually, you're not even the product, you're just an ingredient in the product.
In this case that product is Facebook.
Facebook wants your content to do one thing, to keep people on Facebook so it can serve up ads to them.
They want to keep you there, not just for a few more minutes, but for life.
There are no “rules” to how this all works, just an algorithm that marketers are constantly trying to second-guess to get more free traffic. It's a constant battle of wits, and huge data analysis, and it's nothing new.
If you've been marketing online for any length of time this will look familiar.
Remember Google, SEO, free traffic, when Adwords was really cheap, and then it wasn't?
Google played out the same game.
Direct response marketers got in on the game early. And the wild west of the market got in really early.
Back in the late 90's the big players were in industries like porn & gambling, and Google realised that they weren't going to grow if this was what their search results were dominated by, so they started raising the bar on quality.
Bit by bit they put higher standards in for the quality of content you needed to get that free traffic.
Then they figured out what types of searches were leading to sales, and they started pushing more ads on those pages, and giving less free traffic.
Roughly speaking, educational & entertaining = good experience for the user = good for Google.
“Buy my shit” = bad experience for the user = not so good for google unless they get paid for it.
Try searching a product name on Google, or looking for an estate agent in your area, you'll see what I mean. These are “money” searches. Ones where you're going to get your wallet out at some point in the near future.
Then look for something like “easy birthday cake recipe” and see how many ads there are there (none when I looked). These are educational terms. Perfect content to get you going to Google, so they reward the content creators with free traffic.
This is nothing new.
Think about the old world of newspapers and magazines.
The split between adverts and editorial is quite clear. In the old days the two were kept physically apart to stop the money from tainting the editorial. Ads are there for brand building & direct response, and the editorial is what brings people in so they see them.
So what do you have that an editor would like?
A controversial viewpoint, a genuinely new product with real “wow” factor, something entertaining to say, a pretty face or a hot body. These will all get you in the room with the press.
The exact same thing is going on with Facebook right now.
Think. When you fire up the Facebook app on your phone, what are you looking for?
Entertainment, connection, distraction from boredom.
Not sales training, that feels too much like work.
What else feels like work? Anything run by brands, not people.
“Pages” are mostly run by brands, not your friends & family. They were the first to get hit.
Groups do a bit better, but the biggest ones are obviously commercially motivated so they are getting squeezed too.
You know who you are going to get 100% of your posts from?
Doesn't post that often. Usually isn't attention seeking (mums are like that).
She definitely isn't selling you something.
She knows what you're interested in and she shares it.
Now, I'm not going to give you some magic formula to get unlimited Facebook reach for free. Even if I knew it, the minute it's out in the wild it would get over-used, and Facebook would have to move the goalposts again. It's a never ending battle.
A guy who knows a bit about social media – Gary Vaynerchuck – once said “Marketers ruin everything.”
But there are two broad strategies.
- Study what content is getting attraction and model it.
I'm not a fan of this, in the same way as I'm not a fan of SEO. It takes an enormous amount of research and the results don't come back quickly enough on what's working. But if you're great at content creation and you want to go all-in, this could be for you
- Pay for it, and get good at turning cold traffic into buyers. That's my angle, no surprises there. Far quicker to test and experiment, and you can build an audience in channels that you do control. Email, messenger apps, phone, mail.
But most of all drop your sense of entitlement over free traffic. It's not your traffic, it's not your audience, it's Facebook's, and they let you have it when it suits them.