Is Facebook still worth your time?

March 4, 2014
posted by sheric

Facebook thumbs downMost of you probably have begun to realize that Facebook is not working quite as well as it used to. Just a few years back (as little as 3 years ago), you could post regularly on your professional page and expect to see Fan numbers going up (they changed Fans to Likes in 2010), comments being posted, and fans posting to your Wall (if you allowed it) on a regular basis. Then Facebook started filtering the News Feed for everyone in 2012, ostensibly to make it easier to see news their account holders cared about, but in reality it was to sell access to the fanbase that business pages had amassed. Now it seems that if you run a business page (as opposed to a personal profile), Facebook really just wants you to pay. Pay to gain a following for your page AND pay to have that following see your posts. It’s probably time to make some new decisions about whether this social network is worth your time and effort.

This article in the DigiDay newsletter really brought this question home for me. I have realized more and more over the last 2 years of running multiple Facebook pages that without a promotional budget, only a very limited amount of growth and interaction would happen on a page. I am not the only one to realize this. Big digital agencies are now starting to question whether Facebook is a good investment for their clients too.

Agency execs are seeing brand posts reach a smaller percentage of their page’s followers on Facebook, meaning organic reach for the standard brand post is down. After telling brands and their agencies that accumulating followers and creating viral posts were key to giving good Facebook, Facebook has adopted a more traditional, pay-to-play advertising model, and it has caused some strain between Facebook and agencies.

Of course, there are other Facebook marketers who dismiss this citing that by using more images, videos and kittens (?), engagement can be found. But after investing in Facebook advertising to grow a page then investing either copious amounts of personal creativity and/or money in a creative  and technical team to implement the perfect posts…that still need paid promotion in order to reach those same fans… it doesn’t seem worth the effort to build that base on a site that can change the rules at any time and to mainly to their benefit.

I’m still a fan of the Facebook ad targeting capabilities though. I can’t think of any other advertising tool that can tell me, based on keyword interests, location, demographics, your personal email list and similar pages, how many people an ad is likely to reach BEFORE I even place it. I have even found the Facebook Ad Manager tool terrific in letting me gauge the size of an audience for films that have yet to be made. Facebook has over a billion accounts from people all over the world who give all kinds of personal preference information. That’s a brilliant likely audience indicator.  Where else can you find that information for free? No other social site allows an audience search at such a granular level and that really allows you to be very economical and efficient with your ad spend.

But I would rather use the ad tool to drive traffic to a client website or my own than to build up a following that I have to keep feeding money to Facebook in order to access.  Perhaps if I were working with clients who had untold amounts of budget to devote on a regular basis, things might be different. To be sure, Facebook has become an every day destination for consumers to talk with their friends and acquaintances and keep up the with latest meme/news/viral video. But I am not sure they would miss it if a company page disappeared. Indeed, if you aren’t paying to access their feed, your business page already has.

I have started a transition of my own to Google Plus and I like it so far. I haven’t closed my own Facebook page yet, but I have started telling my clients to consider it, or not start a new page. Not everyone is on board, most people like something they’ve grown accustomed to even when it stops working. Ad tools can be used by individual accounts so they could still run ad campaigns to their websites if they wanted to do that.

One thing is true about the online space. It is ever changing. There is no “mastery,” only constant learning, experimenting, and diving in. Facebook is only one tool of many that can keep you connected to your long term fan base. Long term connection is your goal, not your Facebook number.


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