Facebook marketing

We’re constantly assessing the impact our of various marketing channels.

One thing has become painfully clear: Facebook is not worth the time and effort.

Today I’m going to tell you why we decided to stop wasting time on Facebook.

Profile vs. Page

To start, I have to be clear that my Facebook profile is great.  Though many of you know that Twitter is my favorite of all social media platforms, I still get the most engagement from my Facebook profile.  My friends rock!

So you can imagine my surprise when our Facebook pages for Social Media Philanthropy and True Voice Media fell entirely flat on engagement.  The problem lies in the number of people we’re able to reach organically.  Pages have a much harder time making it into the Newsfeed because of Edgerank.

Due to the Edgerank algorithm, we are only able to reach 8-16% of our audience on any given post.  In order to reach more than that, one of two things must happen:

  1. We get more likes, comments or shares on our posts
  2. We pay Facebook to promote our posts

There are no shortage of people who would come out and tell us that we’re “doing it wrong.”  There are plenty of people willing to show us exactly how to get more engagement on our page.  We’ve read enough articles and seen enough guides to tell you what that advice would be and the problem rest squarely on this fact…

In the eyes of Facebook, there is a “right way” to build a page.

Facebook has designed a system in which the best way to “win” is to appeal to the Edgerank lowest common denominator.  Unlike other networks where you can do whatever you like and succeed based on your brand, the merit of your content, or your storytelling, Facebook has built a system in which the only way to get visibility is to acquire the social signals they deem important, or pay for it.  This leads to the degradation of the entire platform as law firms begin posting “Like if you love Fridays” and realtors posting cat photos.

It has nothing to do with brand.  It has nothing to do with what’s actually important to the company.  It has everything to do with what Facebook has deemed important.

It also doesn’t take into account the TYPE of audience you have.  If you have an audience full of active, content creator types, it is much easier than if your audience are quiet spectators.  It’s a rich-get-richer system.  If your audience are spectators, you begin to see your reach gradually decline until it’s virtually impossible to get it back up again without “boosting” a post.  It’s like when banks hit you with an insufficient funds fee.

We designed our pages based on what WE felt was important.

The Social Media Philanthropy Facebook page was a place for our readers to see our posts in their newsfeed, and be able to go back through the timeline as an archive.  Unfortunately, after acquiring 285 fans, only 9-16 will see any given post.

The True Voice Media Facebook page was created to tell the story of our company highlighting key milestones, new clients, new partnerships, new employees, case studies, and new content from our blog, podcast and other resources.  Unfortunately, only 6-20 of our 230 person audience will see any given post.

So even though we’d planned out how to use our Facebook page in a way that fits our brand, we are hindered by the platform, Facebook has gotten in the way.

Why we’re not going to waste our time anymore:

I have an MBA but not an MFA (Master of Facebook Administration).  The platform is just too damn complex at this point.  Between 3rd party apps getting penalized, trying to understand Edgerank, keeping up with Facebook’s newest advertising opportunity, and the undeniable frustration of reaching a small fraction of your audience, it’s time to stop the nonsense.  Furthermore, we all know why we’re on Facebook, to connect with friends…PERIOD.

On Twitter, we post and move on about our day, there’s no complexity to it.  If someone wants to @mention or @reply us, we get notified and keep moving.  On Twitter, we either get seen or we don’t and it’s due entirely to whether or not we’ve captured our audience’s attention and whether they happen to be on at the time we post.  There’s no algorithm to find out, there’s no best practices around posting irrelevant content to improve the chances of showing up in a newsfeed…none of it.  Same holds true for Google+, Tumblr and virtually every other platform without Edgerank.

We were wasting valuable brain power on trying to get our Facebook page working, and for what?  We have tried all sorts of approaches, types of content and frequency of posting…and nothing “worked.”  Meanwhile, we were diverting time, attention and effort away from the real important platforms.

  • We meet and interact with incredible people on Twitter.  We’ve used Twitter to invite nearly all of our guests to be on the Podcast..and look at our lineup!
  • Google+ gives us search value.  So while we’re on the subject, why not click the +1 button on the right or at the bottom?
  • …and most importantly, our blog is our home and our email subscribers are our most loyal readers and the single most important asset we have across our marketing mix.

Every email we send out achieves 100% reach.  Every email reaches the inbox of our subscriber.  Whether or not they read it relies on a single variable, whether or not we wrote something interesting or valuable enough to pay attention to.  By contrast, Facebook has an additional variable, Edgerank.

So here’s what we’re doing next…

For Facebook:  We are going to simply autopost our content to the Facebook pages.  When we looked at the data from our different approaches, engagement didn’t move one bit when we shifted from auto posting to manual posting.  It didn’t matter if we added commentary or if there was a link preview.  No matter what we do, short of whoring ourselves out with irrelevant content, we’re only reaching a tiny fraction of our audience.  So we’re done fighting and problem solving.

We are still setup to receive notifications if someone comments, likes or shares, and we’ll be sure to respond.  But we’re not going to waste anymore brain power on it.

For the rest of social: We love Twitter, there’s no denying it.  The format of Twitter is a better fit for our company; it’s open, it’s quick, it’s simple.  So Twitter is going to be our primary company outpost.  Aside from that we’ll still be using Pinterest to curate great resources and exploring the possibilities around Google+.  We still have Slideshare for posting our slides and PDFs.  We still have YouTube for hosting the videos from our Podcast and any webinars we do.

For results: It’s simple, our blog is our home.  We can do whatever we want with it.  We are going to continue to focus on growing an email list of people who care about the things we write about.  Our primary focus will be to create content that can help our subscribers.

Our email subscribers are the ones who refer us business.  They are the ones who share our content most.  They are the ones who are the most engaged.  So we’re not going to fight for Facebook to work for us because we’ve already found something that does.