By Joe Pulizzi published June 14, 2014

How Facebook is Becoming a Pay-to-Play Platform

this old marketing-PNR logoPNR: This Old Marketing with Joe Pulizzi and Robert Rose can be found on both iTunes and Stitcher.

In this episode, Robert and I discuss the latest findings straight out of Facebook: Organic reach on the platform is now less than 2%. Facebook is becoming a pure pay-to-play platform in many cases. We also discuss how much data you actually need for your content marketing strategy. The final news article provides a cross section of a record month for magazine launches with a shuttering of a dozen tried-and-true niche magazines. This week’s #ThisOldMarketing example: The Fresh Fork Market Almanac.


This week’s show

(Recorded live on June 9, 2014; Length: 58:32)

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Show overview

1. Opening Comments

2. Content Marketing in the News

  • Facebook Sets The Record Straight On Organic Reach … And Basically Proves Our Point (3:15): Facebook finally explains the thinking behind the recent changes to its News Feed, which saw the organic reach of brands’ page post decline to 2% or less, reports an article on Robert and I agree that Facebook’s heavy PR spin does nothing to change what this move is all about, and we lament the types of businesses that are suffering the most from it.
  • How Much Data Do You Really Need for Content Marketing (10:30): In this article from, John Miller talks about the tendency for many businesses to get so stuck gathering data and creating detailed buyer personas that they never launch their content marketing programs. Sometimes you just need to trust your gut instinct, he advises. Robert and I talk about a practical strategy any business can employ to maintain a bias for action, even if there isn’t “enough” data.
  • Content Marketing – A Good Strategy? (15:01): This article from the Search Engine Journal website declares that content marketing isn’t a sustainable strategy. Robert and I are concerned that the author’s evidence for its lack of effectiveness is only focused on one element of content marketing.
  • Content Marketing: The Copernican Revolution (25:03): J.P. De Clerck masterfully uses Copernicus’ discovery that the Earth revolves around the sun to explain why content marketing needs to be more customer-centric, focused on creating real value and useful interactions for the people we serve. Robert loves the way the author’s viewpoint aligns with his ideas on delighting customers through memorable experiences. I like that DeClerk touches on a challenge that we see many content marketing programs facing today.
  • Squaring This … A Record Breaking Month In New Magazine Launches (31:58): According to the Mr. Magazine blog, May was a record month for niche consumer magazine launches, when 96 new titles debuted.
  • With This … Source Interlinks Loses 12 Titles: The Media Shepherd blog reports that Source Interlink Media has announced it is “absorbing” 12 super-niche titles into other parent magazines (e.g., Custom Classic Trucks being absorbed by Classic Trucks). I believe this means that smart publishers are figuring out better business models that are not focused on selling advertising. I explain how the publishers of these new titles will probably monetize them. Robert demonstrates how the same tectonic forces that are disrupting brands’ go-to-market strategies are affecting publishers and associations, too.
  • Content Marketing Growing – But Not A High Priority (39:17): A survey conducted by Folio: and min, which runs the Content Marketing & Innovation Summit, shows that content marketing is growing but only 17% of publishers indicated it was a top priority. I’m not surprised because traditional publishers tend to undervalue custom publishing, native advertising and other content-focused operations. Robert asks how potential investors can measure the value of content and audiences. I explain one approach that makes sense.

3. Sponsor (46:30)

This Old Marketing is once again sponsored by Emma – email marketing for the modern brand, featuring mobile-responsive templates, social integration tools and concierge services. Emma is promoting an informative infographic it has created entitled 18 Email Stats Every Marketer Needs to Know. You can check it out at

email stats-sponsor-emma

4. Rants and Raves (47:46)

  • Joe’s Rant: A column on ZDnet entitled Thanks for Nothing, Jerkface takes Google to task for ruining its promising Google+ social media channel. The search engine giant, whose motto is “don’t be evil,” now requires people to use a Google+ identity to sign into all of its services, including YouTube, and even automatically creates them for you without your knowledge. Its most egregious move has been to consolidate identities that belong to the same people, in some cases revealing private information. Robert and I agree: It’s time to say goodbye to Google+.
  • Robert’s Rave: Robert lives in Los Angeles, where it’s common for someone to stick a note under your car’s windshield wiper, telling you what a jerk you were for parking where you did. Mini USA, the U.S. arm of the British carmaker of the Mini Cooper, has debuted a set of 12 “Car Compliment Cards” on its Facebook page that you can print and use to “spread the love to our automotive brethren who make the world a better place.” One says, “I parked next to you because awesome cars should stick together.” Robert thinks they’re wonderfully inventive and points out that they’re simple to produce.


5. This Old Marketing Example of the Week (52:41)

  • Fresh Fork Market: Last weekend, I invited family and friends to my house to enjoy a pig roast from Fresh Fork Market, a local Cleveland business. When I asked the owners if they had any marketing materials so I could help spread the word about this wonderful farm-to-table business, they gave me copies of their print magazine, the Fresh Fork Market Almanac. It contains articles about the farmers who grow the food it uses to make its meals, recipes, beautiful photography and much more. All of it is focused on the cause of fresh, homegrown and local. Kudos to a small business for creating a printed piece that’s so good people don’t realize it’s marketing. 


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Author: Joe Pulizzi

Joe Pulizzi is the Founder of Content Marketing Institute, a UBM company, the leading education and training organization for content marketing, which includes the largest in-person content marketing event in the world, Content Marketing World. Joe is the winner of the 2014 John Caldwell Lifetime Achievement Award from the Content Council. Joe’s the author of five books, including his latest, Killing Marketing. His third book, Epic Content Marketing was named one of “Five Must Read Business Books of 2013” by Fortune Magazine. If you ever see Joe in person, he’ll be wearing orange. Follow him on Twitter @JoePulizzi.

Other posts by Joe Pulizzi

  • Linked Media Group, Inc.

    Stellar job on the Podcast Joe and Robert. For many of us on the agency services side Facebook’s Teutonic shift to “pay to play” the last 18-24 months has not always been recognized by SMBs and SMEs. Many have and still do think creating a Facebook account is the way to immediate engagement on the platform, with associated revenue generation. Facebook’s PR juggernaut has obfuscated what’s really happening “below the surface.”

    • Robert Rose

      Yup… I hear ya…. Thanks for that great comment… It’s in important shift for sure – and it’s the SMB’s and Mid-Sized companies that can’t write the “buzzworthyupfeed” types of headlines that will suffer most…

  • Retain and Gain

    First time listener here…And loved it. I was listening while vacuuming (great to do a bit of multi-tasking) and you blew my mind with the subjects, opinion and chat. Actually made me laugh at times. Anyway a couple of areas where I’d like to share a opinion…I totally agree with the “How Much Data do you really need” piece which echos the Lean Startup principle from the HBR’s Steve Blank…I would just add while you do need “some data” (I love the essential ambiguities) The key point should be is that you work out what you need to measure from your pilot or actual engagement. As well as how long you need to the learning cycle to be? With that done every cycle should see a deeper understanding of your target audience and as a result hopefully more insight on generating content that engages this audience…
    Second issue I just had to comment on, was your comment “That you just had to kick sales out of the room” I think this is dangerous. While the purpose of CM is to enhance the customer experience (love the HBO example) you have to engage them in a way that provides an ROI and that is job of sales. You mention that you have no relationship with HBO but I’d disagree, you get delighted by potential content and as a result the ads that surround and are immersed in that content provide the ROI. If we just create engaging content without a call to action we are failing to go to the next level of fulfilling the opportunity to add value and enrich peoples lives by providing services or products that help them to more deeply engage with the content and enrich their lives. Think of the coke or bud you reach for when the movie is just about to start.
    I feel like I’m ranting hear. But one last comment on the value of the CMO I believe that this is an incredibly valuable part of an organisation but it’s valuable because of its synergy with the business it serves. Hubspot is more valuable as a result of all the relevant content it has created. But that content couldn’t be stripped away and sold as a business asset because of the high relevancy of that content, kind of like the soul of the business. If say another Marketing Automation Vendor bought the CMO could they benefit? I’d suggest only partially in the areas where there is no differentiation between the 2 companies. And if there is no differentiation there really isn’t much value. In the areas where the CMO is unique well then the buyer would need to adopt those unique traits and become much more like hubspot which isn’t adding much to the ability for that company to engage and delight their customers. So bottom line is the CMO is incredibly valuable but only to the business it serves.
    I’m looking forward to the next podcast… Great work guys

    • Robert Rose

      First of all – hey there and welcome to the show… Thanks for listening… Quite a comment – and so glad we inspired a “rant” (Ha!)…

      Just a couple of thoughts…

      1. No disagreement here on the Data bit… You’re saying what we’re saying…
      2. i won’t speak for Joe specifically on the “kick sales out of the room” comment (well damn I’m about to anyway) – but know that this is much hyperbole from Joe… The idea is that sometimes as Content Marketers, we have to ask forgiveness rather than permission. It’s very common that the best CM strategies are born out of a risk taken rather than permission asked. In other words – very much like what Ford said about automobiles – if you ask sales what they “want” you’ll get the answer “better sales materials” rather than “smart content marketing”…

      On the second point about HBO… What I mean there is that there is no one-to-one CRM relationship between me and HBO… Their job is to delight me – not to develop a “relationship” with me… So very much unlike the CRM-focused process of B2B – we need to Add (not replace) to our thinking that our job as marketers within a content marketing approach is to not let our inability to have a “relationship” with a consumer get in the way of delighting him/her. This has little to do with a Call to Action….

      On the last item – we’ll just disagree a tad bit. I think that Hubspot’s content marketing “archive” and expertise at developing it is absolutely an extraordinarily valuable piece of the business… It may not be that it would be AS valuable if sold separately… But you’re de-valuing the network because of “past shows”… The key is the value of ALL the content (past and future), and its consumption (e.g. data) and not to mention the expertise that they now have because of the length of that approach. It’s not just the content they’d be buying – it’s the “media company expertise” behind it…

      Thanks for listening…



      • Retain and Gain

        I agree with your thoughts on the role for the content marketing approach being about delighting the consumer and I suppose the point I was making was that while you are in the process of delighting them you do need some mechanism for further engagement and this often involves a sales action but it shouldn’t always have to (but it does need to regularly). This allows a self-selection by the consumer when they are ready and on their terms. If done right this self-selection also delights the consumer and provides the ROI for the business who is creating the experience which now goes beyond CM and requires sales to be in the room..

  • Jitendra Padmashali

    Good one, According to me Facebook has always been great for ‘push’ marketing – injecting brand messages into fan feeds, but the real content marketing win is in search; where fans are already looking and searching for your content.

  • Jordie van Rijn

    I had an interview with Dela Quist just the other day, why marketers don’t nearly hate Facebook enough He makes some good points: never underestimate the power of being in direct contact with your customers and audience via your own channels (and that is not your Facebook page).