The area of of using automation and third party apps, tools and software for social media is dying quickly. If you rely heavily on automation or third party apps, it is time to start to transition away from it.
Social networks have been slowly limiting and eliminating some third party access to their social networks. The obvious and initial purge of such tools began with the controversial tools that automated follows, unfollows, likes and comments to cut down on the spam and activities that users continually reported as negatively impacting their experience on the social networks. This helped Twitter, to a small degree. Instagram more recently started to implement this and has been doing so on a more diligent basis this year.
Facebook takes this a step further. Facebook limit the organic reach of posts from third party applications (always post organically to Facebook.). Facebook, as a matter of practice, reduces your reach when you take an action they don’t want you to take, and they reward you with more reach when you take an action they want you to take (for example: if you upload a video organically to Facebook, they’ll give that video substantially more organic reach than a typical post). If you used third party apps in the past like Buffer or Hootsuite to post on your personal or business page, the reach would be substantially reduced. More recently, Facebook has begun to completely cut off access to various third party tools, and this process will continue because it benefits both the social networks themselves and the average social network user.
Let’s get real for a moment. Social networks are starting to eliminate automation and third party app access because of money. The more the social networks control themselves, the better they can monetize the network. Thousands of third party companies have made millions off the backs of the social networks, and as the social networks have seen their stock prices drop and are seeing a slow down in their revenue stream, the social networks are looking to capture some of that money that’s been going to third party apps and tools. That is the real reason for the change, but there are other smaller reasons that will be floated out to the public.
The social networks will tell you these changes are to reduce spam and enhance the user experience as well as limit fraud and fake news. This is not untrue. The average user does want this change. To the end user, the automation and third party apps take from their experience, so they say in any survey ever conducted. This allows the social networks to look virtuous publicly by claiming the number one and only reason they are reducing automation and limiting third party tools is to protect their users. No matter the reasons, the end result is that we will be seeing less automation and third-party apps and tools will soon disappear.
What does this mean to social media marketers and businesses?
You won’t be able to rely on automation tools and third party apps much longer. The good news is that social media networks will offer almost all the services and benefits these third parties have been offering; we’ve already seen Facebook allow scheduling of posts directly through Facebook for business pages. The downside is that the transition for you, as a marketer or business, won’t be smooth. The social networks will be slow to offer the types of tools you’ve enjoyed from your third party applications.
You may see social networks partner with select third-party apps and tools, and remove all access to others. If you use one of the preferred tools already, you won’t need to make any changes. You can’t count on that. The best thing to do, and I know it won’t be easy and may require more work hours or having to hire an additional person, is to begin to stop using automation or any third party apps, or at the very least, develop a comprehensive plan that you can put into immediate action should you wake up one morning to discover that access to your social media management platform is entirely done. If it ends up that social networks green light the tools and apps you rely on, great, you’ll be fine. However, it is very likely that many of you reading this will wake up one day to discover, without warning, that an app or tool you rely on has been banned by your most important social network, and you need to be prepared for if that happens.
The era of automation and third party apps is not dead yet, and it may not ever totally cease to exist, but the social networks are starting to take more control of their networks and you need to plan accordingly.
Facebook does have a list of approved partners. If the third party you use is on this list, you’ll be fine for the near future. Though keep in mind that it is more likely this list will be reduced, not grow. Here is that list: Facebook Preferred Community Management Software and Tools