Saturday, November 29, 2014

Change in Facebook Pages Rules will affect artists marketing their art

There's a major change coming for those who use Facebook to promote their art. Facebook is changing the rules and changing the way specific types of posts will show up in the news feed. I'm certainly going to be having a rethink of how I promote other people via my Facebook Page.

This is a RECOMMENDED READ for all those who have a Facebook Page and use it to market their art and/or exhibitions.

The announcement

Some numbers about Facebook and Facebook Pages

It's now very difficult to ignore Facebook when it comes to marketing art or the importance of mobile devices for accessing Facebook.
  • In October nearly a billion people visited Facebook Pages (as opposed to Facebook accounts)
  • More than 750 million (75+%) of those visits happened on mobile devices.
  • Facebook is on three of every four smartphones
  • More than half of the people on Facebook visit every day

Summary of the changes in January 2015

This is a summary of the upcoming changes to what's allowed on Facebook Pages and what this means for artists.

  • PLANNED ACTION: The Facebook Newsfeed will introduce new controls for promotional posts to Facebook Pages.  Facebook aims to make Facebook Pages more engaging and enjoyable for consumers
    • new controls will be introduced to eliminate promotional posts (e.g. buy my art) from people's Facebook Page feeds
    • the change will be rolled out in January 2015 - which I guess means it will probably happen country by country or server by server
Pages that post promotional creative should expect their organic distribution to fall significantly over time.
  • BACKGROUND:  Facebook has identified a number of traits which make certain posts on Facebook Pages appear too promotional. These are:
    • Posts that solely push people to buy a product or install an app
    • Posts that push people to enter promotions and sweepstakes with no real context
    • Posts that reuse the exact same content from ads
    • this is the website for Facebook Business ie people wanting to use Facebook to connect with customers
    • my advice is to read what they say so you get no nasty surprises!
What this effectively means is that all those who have been using Facebook pretty much like their blog and alerting people to new paintings or prints being available will find that their Facebook Feed will be effectively "buried" in future IF it is deemed to be too promotional.

I'd also advise people to NEVER EVER 
  • share a link to anything remotely promoting an event or product without adding in your own words i.e. don't just share it without offering an opinion using words which are NOT in the original post.
  • do not ask people to like your page in order to enter any competition for your artwork
I'm thinking through what might be the inevitable next steps.....

For those who are using their personal accounts to share their art in an overt way, you need to be aware that this already breaches what the personal account is supposed to be used for. I would NOT recommend you do this on your account.

By all means share your art - but I'd strongly advise you don't say a word about any commercial aspect of it.  Otherwise you too could find your account buried.

Do make sure your website is available via your "About" profile page.  Make sure that tells people how they can buy your art.  In other words create interest on Facebook and engage people - but do NOT try selling your art. Instead make them look for wherever you do sell it.

For those who are moderating Facebook Groups, it's vital that you keep on top of spam.
  • Spam is likely to be seen as something that must NOT happen on Facebook in the near future - to a greater extent than at present.
  • You might want to think about the wisdom of having an open access group - as opposed to a closed group where you moderate access.  
  • Members of all Facebook Groups will be help to make sure their Group stays in a healthy state by reporting any spam to the Moderators as soon as you see it.

2015 - the year of the Advertising Wars

To understand why Facebook is doing what it's doing one needs to look a bit wider into the wider world of global advertising.  It also helps to understand the wider perspective when thinking about how to tackle the problem of marketing as an individual in an increasingly complex online world.

For example, let's think of some of the big companies who influence where we promote our art
  • we tend to think of Google as a search company when actually it's an advertising company! Google's advertising revenues represent more than 90 percent of its total income. Google's annual report states
"We generate revenue primarily by delivering relevant, cost-effective online advertising."
  • Facebook is huge - but there's always been a query about how well it's monetised and that has been reflected in its share price.  Effective monetisation means closing off the ways of advertising for free (hence the announcement).
Plus both Google and Facebook have to look to the new competition......
  • Apple is a hardware company that has become very successful at generating income via new forms of software (iTunes and Apps) and is now signalling that it's looking much more closely at pushing advertising.

Here's an early prediction for 2015 - this is going to be the year of the advertising wars! 

What has happened so far

In terms of advertising generally
  • Traditional advertising media does not work as effectively as online advertising that can be programmed. For example it's incapable of distinguishing between advertisers who want to generate traffic from prospective purchasers now and those who want to increase awareness of a brand amongst those not yet ready to buy - but who might buy in the future.
    • As a result: advertising has been moving out of print and online
    • the key new trend is programmatic advertising i.e. adverts that automatically respond to events/news
  • Americans now spend more time engaging with mobile devices than TV 
    • As a result, advertising has been moving off TV and going online
  • The ad industry is estimated to be worth $20 billion industry in 2016 
    • BUT it's estimated that $1bn of ad spend is wasted on fraudulent advertising.
In terms of Google
  • Google has withdrawn open access to its Keyword Planner - it's now only available to those with Google AdWords account for advertisers with a site and budget identified.  That means we can't get a sense of which keywords work well for our sites
    • BUT Google has already introduced semantic search which means that keywords are in any case much less important
  • GOOGLE will continue to hammer all those sites that provide an alternative to Google advertising (e.g. article websites). 
    • The recent changes in the Google algorithm (Panda etc) probably has little to do with search and everything to do with advertising. If it is then that's anti-competitive behaviour and more than a few have been commenting on this in recent times! 
    • Several article sites were wiped out/closed down in 2014 as a result of being starved of traffic and advertising income - and I expect more to come. Such sites included ones where some artists promoted their art. 

My forecast of what will happen in 2015

  • More purchasing will move online - underlining (if needed) the importance of online advertising
  • More consumption will be via mobile devices. There has been and will continue to be explosive growth in mobile advertising and hence places they can deliver this become even more important. 
  • Digital videos will become more important as vehicles for advertising( eg which show people how a painting is made or art materials are used)  So if making a video do think about the scope for earning some extra income from advertising.  Or think about the scope for digital videos to point to your website and where the painting is now for sale.....
  • APPLE will begin to become a stronger player in the advertising marketplace - it's getting into programmatic advertising - see Why Apple Is Suddenly Poised To Take On Facebook
  • FACEBOOK will become more aggressive around monetisation and.....
    • become a "pay to play" marketplace 
    • try to become more dominant in the video marketplace - where they get 100% of the advertising revenues as opposed to sharing them with the creator as happens on YouTube
  • GOOGLE will continue with more of the same ie
    • restrict access to its tools to those who pay
    • hammer article websites which are not well controlled
  • There will be an increase in native advertising ie content which effectively advertises and looks as if it belongs in the context in which it is seen - but it's actually sponsored. One example would be an advertorial. You think it's editorial in an online magazine - until you spot the "sponsored by...." line
  • Analytics (ie reviewing our statistics for where traffic is coming from - and what it does when it visits our sites) is going to become more and more important to those wanting to generate income by promoting artwork online

Here's my "blue sky" wishful thinking.....

If somebody came up with the art equivalent of iTunes artists might enjoy the same success as musicians and app developers. However as things stand at the moment the online marketplace for art has not really grasped the opportunities which exist for both artists and advertisers.