Dec 4, 2012

It’s Not Easy Being Facebook These Days

Facebook doesn't have a lot to smile about these daysMan, there is not a lotta love out there for Facebook these days.

To start with, for the past couple of months, brands have been up in arms about their decline in the visibility of their standard posts since the social giant launched Promoted Posts. Ars Technica went so far as accusing Facebook of being “broken on purpose” to encourage use of its latest paid feature.

Then Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban lent a celebrity face to the outcry with the following tweet:

Mark Cuban's tweet heard 'round the world


And he followed up by posting on his personal blog:

FB is what it is. Its a time waster. That’s not to say we don’t engage, we do. We click, share and comment because it’s mindless and easy. But for some reason FB doesn’t seem to want to accept that it’s [sic] best purpose in life is as a huge time suck platform that we use to keep up with friends, interests and stuff. I think that they are over thinking what their network is all about.

The pile-on continued when IBM, in its Black Friday Report 2012, reported that Facebook drove a paltry 0.68 percent of referral traffic on the nation’s biggest shopping day.

Dude, I got depressed just writing all that stuff.

So yeah, if you’re Facebook, you’re probably feeling pretty picked-on these days. But what does it all mean for us marketers who are trying to put together a social strategy for 2013?

My Take on the Whole Mess

A lot of folks have asked my opinion about “the whole Facebook thing” over the past few weeks, so here it is.

First of all, everybody calm down. However all this shakes out, it won’t be the end of the world.

Second, let’s all remember that Facebook is a free platform. Sure, we all invest time and effort into our Facebook Pages, but unless you choose to participate in its purely optional promotional features, it’s free. And in Facebook as in life, you frequently get what you pay for.

To put that into perspective: If someone is offering you free pizza every day, then one day decides to take away the pepperoni (or to offer it only as a paid add-on), hey, you’re still getting free pizza.

Third, yes, it is possible that this is the beginning of Facebook’s fall from the top of the social media mountain. It might happen, and if it does, we’ll have to adjust. But adjust we will.

I’ve long speculated that Google’s strategy all along with Google+ was to create a superb social network, then bide their time until a critical mass of people got fed up with Facebook. Kinda like the “just friends” boy who hangs around until that magical day when his crush decides to dump her putz of a boyfriend. Maybe that will happen with Google+, maybe not. We’ll all just have to wait and see.

To sum up, yes, the social media times, they are a-changing. But hey, we’re smart, capable people, and we can adapt to anything. We made the switch from MySpace to Facebook (those of us old-timers who were around then), and if the future holds a new King of the Socialverse (maybe even the freshly relaunched MySpace?), we’ll adjust our strategies and move forward.

I have faith.

Image Source: My Social Media Experience

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  • Matt Massaro

    Going to take another look at myspace… if it was worth mentioning with google plus.

    • I wonder if MySpace can ever make a revival. You know one thing to think about is that mobile was nothing anything what it is today back in the hay-day for the platform.

  • Hello Rachel,

    Great piece!

    I have been saying two things for years;

    1) FB is pulling a giant MySpace on us
    2) FB is not for every business

    Sure, people laughed at me and said that I knew nothing about social media. As it turns out, I knew a thing or two.

    I think that the “free-turned-into-paying-platform” idea is just an excuse. IMHO, the core of the problem is the lack of care FB has for its users.

    Because at the end of the day, it’s about audiences, not businesses. By penalizing brands that don’t want to pay to get attention, you also penalize regular users, who can’t see updates anymore. Not everyone has the budget to pay for promoted posts on a daily basis.

    We have to stop giving FB the benefit of the doubt every time the team makes a bad decision. We are not so nice with the other networks.

  • Thanks for this great piece Rachel! I think Facebook is fantastic for staying in touch with friends and family, but not really that good for most business. I do feel that it can certainly take up an awful lot of precious time, with little or no return. The fans one can establish for their businesses is interesting and was a good idea to pursue, but the changes make it a downer. I believe Facebook is ultimately a pay to play platform now.

    • Thanks, Tom! Facebook is definitely in a difficult situation: on the one hand, users demand all the services they’re used to without paying for them, and on the other hand are those shareholders demanding to see a profit. Wouldn’t it be interesting if all the business bailed and Facebook was once again strictly a “friends and family” online hangout?

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Rachel Parker

A self-proclaimed geek who can recite entire episodes of South Park by heart, Rachel Parker helps businesses publish content that connects with their audience … and converts those followers into customers. She’s also the host of the Content Marketing Podcast and a sought-after speaker, having presented to many major business and marketing organizations.

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