It’s becoming increasingly difficult to recommend Facebook as part of a social media strategy. Here’s why.
In September 2012 Facebook announced that they were making changes to the way content appeared in peoples’ newsfeeds. This involved limiting the organic reach of posts from Facebook Pages (when posts are published without advertising). Following this change, global brands reported a staggering 40% drop in reach.
Facebook did this for two reasons:
- As a business they need to make money, and the primary way for them to do this is through advertising. If a Facebook Page could reach all their fans without paying, then there would be little need for businesses to advertise. By Facebook drastically limiting organic reach, organisations are more likely to use advertising to give their page a boost.
- There is too much content being published on Facebook and, because of this, the social network has had to filter what appears in peoples’ newsfeeds. All of the posts you publish are in competition with other pages on Facebook so that your fans aren’t overwhelmed by content.
Both of these reasons were confirmed earlier this year when it was announced that Facebook users only see 20% of the content that is published by friends and pages.
The only way to change this is, unfortunately, is by advertising on Facebook. This means that Facebook Pages can reach more of their existing fan base and present content to other targeted users. However, this does begin to question whether Facebook can accurately be called a social network anymore; isn’t it more of a social advertising network?
The rebellion has started…
Eat24 – A BREAKUP LETTER TO FACEBOOK FROM EAT24
“It makes us think all you care about is money. Why should we have to wade through a dozen promoted posts about how to lose belly fat (are you trying to tell us something?) and requests for Candy Crush (NO! Just no.) and suggesting we like our arch nemesis’ page (seriously, WTF) before we can finally find the perfect Doge meme, It really seems like you’ve lost your way and have become nothing more than an ad platform.”
Copyblogger – Why Copyblogger Is Killing Its Facebook Page
“Have you ever stared at something, knowing you’re doing everything right, but it still won’t … freaking … work? That’s how Copyblogger has felt about its Facebook page for quite some time. As of today, the page has 38,000 “fans,” but Copyblogger’s presence on Facebook has not been beneficial for the brand or its audience.”
The point about Facebook is this: their algorithm changes and focus on advertising is causing much anxiety in the business community. It is quite simply becoming too expensive to be on Facebook. Especially as the content you painstakingly create may only organically reach a small percentage of your fan base.
I’ve worked with companies in the past who have literally spent hundreds of thousands of sterling on managing a global presence on Facebook. But WHY? There is nothing to verify users who ‘like’ a page, other than what Facebook’s own Insight measurement dashboard shows. Even then, these profiles are private, the owned property of Facebook. In a sense, you’re not really buying a fan but instead renting them; due to their lack of information (I’m personally convinced many are bots) and that you’re unable to export any of their individual data (such as email addresses).
As Facebook owns all of the data, the only way for them to sell to companies is by promoting the idea that social media metrics are the main purpose behind an online campaign. A dated idea in a world where the real value of social media is attained through the data – driving real-world conversions. Who cares if your page got 4,000 more followers this month? This shouldn’t be the aim – drive sales, bookings, downloads, etc… ANYTHING!
It’s interesting to note that in Facebook Advertising’s promotional copy, case studies are referenced claiming such results. Although in reality, I’ve never met an organisation that can claim such a successful experience with Facebook.
It isn’t just the big organisations that should question their use of Facebook. It’s the little ones too.
Last week I met with a small business owner who needed some social media advice. In exchange for a couple of ales, she revealed that she was primarily putting all her effort into her Facebook Page. However, our discussion was about improving the ranking of her website on Google. In the kindest way possible, I had to explain that it might be time to refocus efforts on SEO related activities. After explaining the costs needed to drive a successful Facebook Page – she whole-heartedly agreed.
She saw that Facebook was misleading her, enticing her with promises of sales that would realistically never meet the cost of her investment into buying fans. The social media metrics were not the end goal for her business; it’s sales.
For this reason Facebook is a misleading advertising network that promotes an out-dated approach to social media; that your business will thrive if you buy fans. Even worse, it is misleading companies into spending thousands of pounds on attracting fans to their pages, which they will never organically be able to reach.
This is why I find it difficult promoting Facebook in a social media strategy. There are better methods.