Is Facebook a Marketing Failure – for Small Business?
“Why don’t you like social media for marketing?”
I could see the question in her eyes.
I had already told her why I thought social media as an promo channel, sucked for small business and that I felt she would be off focusing her attention on content marketing (i.e. creating more and more blog posts).
Then she started to tell her that her brother/cousin (I can’t remember which) who worked as a full time social media manager in some big time company in some big northern city told her that social media was the ONLY way to go.
I knew then we weren’t going to work together much longer because… she was a “true believer”.
True believers are those business people who think that social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are the easiest and most cost-effective way to have an online presence.
And she’s not alone… According to a recent survey by Endurance International Group…
“Nearly 90% of … the survey participants (small business owners) currently have a social media presence on at least one social media platform (like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Google+), yet most do not have an established social media strategy.”
So why I am being so ass-backwards? Why am I swimming against the stream of current conventions? Does this mean I “hate” social media?
Don’t get me wrong…I too have a Facebook business page and a Twitter account (both pretty much abandoned and lost alone in the world of gadfly social marketing).
And I want you to know that I don’t hate social media – I just don’t think it works all that well as a marketing channel for small business despite what all the internet bloggers, affiliate gurus and big brand marketing pundits say.
I have done a little testing with both my client’s accounts and on my own personal Facebook fan (business) page.
I have gotten some nice feedback from posting on personal Facebook pages but little to show for my efforts on a business page.
And since it’s a BIG no-no to post for marketing purposes (a lot) on your personal FB account, you are automatically hamstrung there.
So you have to use a Fan or business page if you plan on being any way effective.
But even Facebook itself admits it’s failing its small business customers.
In a blog post on its official site > https://www.facebook.com/note.php?note_id=10150675727637217. They wrote…
“[Business] Pages organically reach about 16% of their fans on average.* This is not unique to business Pages.
The degree of reach between users and their Friends is similar as well. Fans may miss content from friends or business Pages if they are not logged onto the site during a period when your posts are active in Newsfeed.”
One study even shows that it takes about 6 hours a day to create enough content on a social media account’s newsfeed to produce a noticeable uptick in traffic to a website!
Basically unless you on Facebook or Twitter all day pushing out your content on a schedule like my former client’s brother/cousin – then more than 80% of your friends and fans will NEVER see your messages.
So what’s Facebook’s solution? Slow down that scrolling timeline and newsfeed?
Nope, they want you to “sponsor” your business page posts. Yes, “boost your post” by buying an ad for it.
Yep. Shock, amazement, amusement … Facebook wants you to pay them to make sure that all your “free” business posts reach all those “free” fans… that you worked so hard to get!
And here’s another kick in the gut …in a blog post he wrote for Fast Company, Chris Luo, former Head of Global SMB Marketing at Facebook said,
“The top brands on Facebook and Twitter are reaching only 2% of their fans, and only 0.07% of those followers actually interact with each post.”
You Have Done a Lot to Be in Facebook for Free But Was it Worth It?
I know you probably either paid a lot of money for ads to get more attention or at least spent a lot of time on Facebook posting to get all those people to “Like” your Fan page.
All so you could get them to visit your website, right? But did any of those fans ever click, call or come by to buy your stuff?
And what if you don’t even have a website that you own and can control?
The future is not looking pretty for you, boys and girls. Having Facebook as your sole “web presence” officially allows them to hold your business (excuse my French) by the “short hairs.”
While I didn’t see this particular tactic “pay to boost your post” tactic coming, but I did know that any “free” web service like Facebook will eventually come knocking at your door, asking their users for money.
Mainly because all software or web companies that have “free forever” offers are initially funded by family, friends, venture capitalists, shareholders and other donations.
And unless the business can get on its feet financially, eventually those other sources of income, give up, dry up or just go away.
Which leaves you – the end-user as their last source of funding.
Free is a very powerful “get them in the door” marketing tool…but hey, web servers and the technicians who maintain them cost money. So I don’t hate Facebook for looking for ways to increase their bottom line – they are a publicly traded company, not a charity.
What I do hate are the so-called online marketing professionals who sucker small business people into believing that a free service can be the core foundation in a sustainable online marketing plan.
So yes, I do think Facebook is a marketing failure – when it is used the way people have encouraged small business owners to do it.
Just remember all free web marketing services are like getting some “Free Kittens” …
…Once you take the cat to the vet, pay for the shots, get the special food, buy the bowls, the litter box, the new rug, the hairball remedy and stronger cat litter… you realize that “free” might not be all its touted to be.