Many companies, regardless of industry, have started to take a closer look at the distribution of their content. It could be as simple as a flash sale they wish to promote, or a regular blog produced on the company’s own website in order to control communication channels. What’s interesting though―and also frustrating―is the over-reliance on social media. In particular, on Facebook.

One of the best things to happen to businesses (start-ups in particular) is the democratised channels allowing a direct line to potential clients, segmented audiences and even influencers. It’s been both a brilliant and misleading avenue for companies, because essentially the hunt to be found has resulted in channels monopolising our communication.

Decline in organic reach

Let me explain further. If you consider that you spend 10 hours a week on your brands social media strategy, and then also ‘X’ amount of dollars towards the boosting of certain posts, then you are likely to have seen certain results. And yet, the expectation that results remain consistent is actually at the mercy of the channel. Facebook in particular has been heavily criticised for their changing algorithms in regards to businesses using their platform, and in the decline in organic reach.

What once provided a reach of 2000 for $5 now only gives me a reach of around 200-300 people, depending on the day and time chosen to ‘boost’. Research suggests the drop in organic reach is almost 2% for pages that have over a quarter of a million likes, and publishers are spending more money than ever in trying to ensure their content is getting into the newsfeeds of their readers. So much so that brands like BuzzFeed spent $5.9million over a 6-month period in 2014.

Conversation rates held to ransom

The reality is, the years you spent nurturing that community on Facebook is now held at ransom based on an algorithm; limiting your reach, your clicks and ultimately your likelihood of conversions. So why haven’t brands withdrawn all of their social media spend away from Facebook? Because they are aware that 9 million Australians check Facebook daily, with a recent study from Cornwell University finding that every 60 seconds on Facebook sees 136,000 photos uploaded and 293,000 statuses updated.

Core strategy mistake

That is an engaged audience, and it makes sense that it should be part of your strategy. But the mistake so many brands make is having it as their core strategy. Particularly when approaching a distribution strategy, and cannot support enough the need for a multi-faceted approach is paramount. It needs to include both offline and digital, with consistency and being nimble enough to pivot key.

The ‘pay to play’ concept is still absolutely crucial, and it’s unrealistic to believe you can get away with promoting your brand to your targeted audience for free. But the ability to use multiple avenues to reach the right people is about understanding the value of the various platforms. The value in native content comes from trusted publishers knowing that the ROI is often around not only engagement but also the longevity of content and how your potential customer consumes your message.

Social media has been glorified by Marketing Managers for years now, so is the boom over? No, we’re only at the very beginning. However, the idea of ‘one platform to rule them all’ is a dangerous focus that could lead to living at ransom by an algorithm switch.

A strong social media strategy is based on understanding your customers, what they value and where they go to consume information. It is about understanding the value proposition of the channels you must implement in order to have a solid strategy that is aimed at brand awareness, message association and growth.