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What does the Facebook news ban in Australia mean for marketers?


On February 17 Facebook made good its threat to ban all news through its platform, following the Australian government’s bill requiring all social media platforms to pay for news.  By the following day our Facebook feeds and news channels were in uproar with the reality of the ban.  Fast forward, the Australian government’s media bill has passed; and Facebook have re-friended Australia following negotiations with local news agencies

This is not the first time that we have seen BigTech companies exert their power over the social media airwaves. In early January of this year Twitter permanently suspended President Trump’s ability to communicate through the Twitter-verse following an alleged breach of Twitter’s rules, and the other social media platforms temporarily followed suit.

Whatever your opinion on power battles, freedom of speech, news talent compensation, etc, there is a bigger learning that marketers need to pay attention to.  And it’s this: to rely on a single media channel or even a dominant channel, and build an audience in one single space, that you don’t own, or have ultimate control over, opens you up to a huge amount of risk.  In one fell swoop, all the news agencies in Australia, lost a major channel of communication distribution.  The Donald Trump administration lost access to Twitter, the fourth most popular social media platform in the United States.

When that happens, what do you do? What we observed once organisations had gotten their public complaints underway was this: reverting back to their email databases to tell their customers (or audiences) where they could still access all of their favourite and valued information and content, in particular their websites.

This is gold.  First, knowing your customers and prospective customers with even the smallest amount of details on a CRM database is critical to long term growth and the stability of communications. Second, owning your own website and maintaining it as a living, growing organism means that no matter what your channels of distribution (remember that fourth “P” of Marketing, “Place”?) pointing to your website or media platform, your own website (optimised) is always up to date, interactive and working.

Here are a few points to consider:

  1. Don’t keep all your eggs in one basket - if one channel of communication goes down, make sure you’re maintaining activity on all of your others, especially your own website.
  2. Don’t neglect email - you can grow your email database with very little information, but as you get to know your customers and potential customers, add more and more information about them to build your knowledge about them, and help you help them better.
  3. Own your data - it is easy to rely on Facebook’s Ad Manager targeting and algorithm expertise.  But remember, they own the data, you don’t.  So use them yes, but don’t 100% rely on them.
  4. Notifications - tell your consumers, prospects and followers where they can find you.  Tell them often.
  5. Other social networks - Without doubt Facebook is the biggest social media platform in the world with 2.4 billion monthly users, and sits at the top in every individual country. That said the other social media companies, particularly Youtube are chasing their heels, with Instagram in third place.  The point being, spread your message across the biggest and most appropriate platforms for your audience. 

Don’t forget, you will need to tailor your content appropriately for the platform and audience. To learn more about how Story Strategist can help you create relevant content to reach the right audience on the right platform, check out our S.A.P. Explorer.

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