Brands are scrambling to figure out why Facebook fans have stopped seeing their social media posts. Earlier this year, Facebook made changes that some marketers consider 2018's Facebook Brand Marketing Apocalypse.  

Freebie content and video distribution dried up, but smart social marketers have quickly started to think like classic TV stations -- only smarter. Social channels make it possible for brands to broadcast captivating video content to very precise audiences. While no longer free, securing views can still be crazy cheap -- costing as little as a penny each. Views can drive website visits, in-store foot traffic and put products in shopping carts.  

First, some quick history: In January, Facebook essentially shut off the free publicity spigot for brands and publishers, affecting everyone from news giants like the New York Times to brand publishers like Skittles, the Mall of America, SkiDoo and others. Companies endured an overnight branding nightmare that actually took about seven years to occur (free distribution began declining before Facebook's 2012 IPO).

Here's what brands face when attempting "free" video distribution today:

  • Company posts video to Facebook seeking free sharing with the masses.
  • Virtually no followers ever see the post in their Facebook feeds.
  • Followers now must physically visit brand pages on Facebook to see such posts. Keep in mind many Facebook users have "liked" dozens of brand pages, but few ever intentionally go back to visit those Facebook pages, rendering millions of organic posts useless.  
  • People may share a company's posts with friends, but with so few people seeing posts in the first place, there's not much sharing going on anymore.

Is it time to just abandon Facebook marketing? Absolutely not.

While free distribution on Facebook has been evaporating for years, brands can use paid Facebook Ads to drive traffic to a website. Downside, costs can be prohibitive, at upwards of $1.75 per click. Fear not, innovative brand owner. It's pretty easy activate followers with inexpensive video views.

Why a TV station mindset wins the day.

TV stations survive only when people view their content. Classic TV worked, because providers created fresh, compelling content that people actually wanted to see and it was easy to find. Cool thing for brands today, Facebook offers an amazing, audience-captivating video channel with video views often costing between a penny and a nickel.  

Basic math paints a compelling picture. To reach a target audience in Facebook of 124,000 people over the age of 18 three times (~365,000 impressions), it will cost between $1,300 and $6,800, which is remarkably low. With video views, comments, shares and likes, brands can see a significant increase in overall social channel engagement at a low cost.

With strong creative and a compelling message -- classic TV stuff -- thousands of those Facebook video viewers may take additional action, such as visiting a website, seeking demos and making purchases.

In addition, great creative and smart use of video can help brands find the Holy Grail of marketing -- brand searches in Google. The more people see a brand through those super-cheap video views, the more they'll seek the brand in search engines.

Benefits can extend to performance marketing channels such as Google AdWords and email blasts. The more a brand softens audiences with low-cost video, the better other channels can perform.

Facebook video prices are astonishingly low and help generate site traffic by getting viewers to click on a "more info" button. Much like Facebook, YouTube views can be super-cheap as well, with many views costing less than a dime for similar click-to-site results. If site traffic is what you are after, inexpensive video distribution in Facebook and YouTube can yield stunning results.

What about those existing Facebook followers?

You fought hard to earn "likes," but the brand marketing apocalypse shut off the free views to those Facebook fans. Don't fret. Run inexpensive, segmented television-like tactics directly targeting your Facebook company page followers. They want to know about your brand. They've shown an interest. The work done to build up that following is still worthwhile.

Facebook is the new TV. Brands need to think like TV. Low-cost video broadcast branding is a deadeye combo of PR, targeting, short term conversion and multi channel performance marketing lift. It's arguably a better use of Facebook to achieve the elusive Tao of branding and performance marketing.