Honestly, this shouldn't be news. Current events have just made this statement more obvious. First, our free ride on social media is effectively over. Sure, there are probably a few brands out there coasting along quite well purely on organic content but they are few and far between. Brands that want to see incremental growth, especially on Facebook, are going to have to start spending some ad money. While Facebook remains the current focus of the "pay to play" discussions, this change in attitude will spill over more into other social platforms.
Now, we have the FCC playing a role. In this New York Times report from last week, the FCC has now allowed broadband internet service providers (like the universally-beloved Comcast) to give "fast lane" access to content providers who are willing to pay up. Large content providers like Google, Netflix, Disney and now Amazon will have the resources to make their content quicker to access. Smaller content providers without deep pockets will eventually be affected by this change. If your brand (or client) relies heavily on broadband internet access for their owned content delivery, they could be moved to slower "lanes" or be required to pay more money to make their content more easily accessible.
How does this change things?
Honestly, for efficient marketers, this shouldn't change much. I'll explain.
For a long time, we've been able to "throw spaghetti at a wall and see what sticks" when it comes to online content. This mindset has stretched some marketers thin and has disrupted focus for content strategy. Now that there are more "pay to play" scenarios and a potential bottleneck on content (thanks for that, FCC) marketers and communicators are going to be forced to prioritize where they spend their time online.
That means (gasp) Facebook may not be for everyone. You may not have to be on Instagram to stay relevant. If you can't deliver consistent content or refuse to engage with followers, Twitter may not be the most strategic place for your brand to spend time.
Brands that are not "joining the conversation" on every single social platform under the sun won't be looked down on as "backwards" or behind the times. They'll be looked at as smarter. They will be the ones that are aware of limited resources and would rather do a few things with excellence than many things with mediocrity.
Where does innovation fit in?
If a new platform comes out, should you join it? Yes. If nothing else, secure your brand's vanity username and place a logo there so nobody hijacks your brand.
For everything else, it's great to spend a portion of your resources towards "innovation." Make a place where it will be okay to fail. If a new mobile or social platform comes out that appears to have some benefit for you, try it out for a period of time. After that trial run, if you are seeing some positive shifts and responses, it may be a place to allocate more resources. If it's a flop, it's still a much more strategic failure than not getting results and wondering what happened.
Smart marketers have been doing this for a long time. They've been asking "why do we use this platform?" from day one. Now everyone else will be forced to jump on board with that thinking.
What do you think? Will marketers still get away with liquor and guessing?