Someone asked me whether they should use Facebook. As the use of social media takes center stage in today’s marketing strategy consideration and its move into mainstream marketing it is time to consider whether it is worth it at all. Or are we too late for that already!?
There have been plenty of stories of large brands who have got it terribly wrong. The most recent that, despite being insensitive did actually made me chuckle.
Let’s hurry home and follow the earthquake news. And don’t forget to order your favorite KFC menu.
You can almost see a flash of brilliance shoot through the mind of the market knowing it is in very bad taste and inappropriate, as they tried to respond to a current trend. Suddenly to realise it was a terrible idea and have to grovel hard.
Similarly there are numerous businesses that have dormant profiles and business pages as they fail to be able to dedicate the time to keep them updated. The question was whether people should use social media or use Facebook at all.
However in light of mistakes and learning curves en route we arrive at a more knowledgeable situation where the ground rules have been set. More recently there has been a seismic shift in how Facebook’s algorithm (called “Edgerank”) operates that changes the prioritisation as to what content is shown to whom and when. This has become a serious issue as to the validity and usefulness of Facebook as a marketing platform. Or has it?
Back in May General Motors causes a stir and asked whether they should use Facebook as they reportedly dropped $10m of Facebook paid for advertising as they tested other media, prompted by the belief that it was ineffective.
Now the Tech billionaire and Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban is pulling from the platform, furious that he now has to pay $3k to reach around 1.5m of his page’s followers.
This is via Facebook’s paid for ad mechanics, which for many brands is relied upon as it delivers large numbers of likes and comments, with first class targeting capabilities. Yet the point is that the change in Edgerank has seen a large drop in the amount of branded page content being shown to fans. Indeed Edgerank now prioritises multi-media content more than ever. Multimedia content is of course more time consumely and expensive to produce, creating a problem in its own right to be seen naturally in fans’ news feed. I actually believe that with Mark Cuban this is a case of someone not liking his hand being forced in one direction or another and so cries about the lack of open source and the degrading of what was a good service.
However the change that Facebook is going through is real and does give rise to questions as to its usefulness. It will impact on the development of social media strategies moving forward. The reason for this is obvious and has been seen with Google previously. Google began with its slogan “do no evil” and proclaimed to bring valid, unbiased information to the world. Until that is when they floated on the markets are became accountable to powerful shareholders. Suddenly the shift moved to profit and shareholder value.
This is the exact issue faced by Facebook at this point and presents a new angle on whether businesses should use Facebook for marketing purposes. With the pressure to find new ways of monetising an ever increasing audience the company will also make mistakes and enemies on the way. Will it kill the service? It is very unlikely. However in this fast paced media landscape there are a few ways you can help protect yourself.
The largest implication of people who use Facebook marketing and saw the reduction in the amount of natural content to fans were for businesses who aimed to “get x amount of likes”.
This investment has decreased in ROI over night with reports that instantly fans are being reached up to 50% less than before September 2012 (RedWriteWeb, Oct 2012) The key is to keep your eye on offering a full set of customer and consumer value that will make people want to engage naturally with the page and come back for repeat visits proactively.
Secondly is to understand the financial reward of what you are doing on the platform, how you want it to work and the value your business is to get out of existing upon it. This can be done through a variety of metric and research tools both online (and offline should this be offline awareness or spontaneous recall for example).
Finally long-term marketing plans need to have a degree of flexibility within them. It is no longer the case that a 6 month to a year’s worth of activity can be signed off with forecasts and not be hit with the rapid change in technology. New features are phased in and disappear if they do not take off as planned. A contingency plan or exit route must be established should the activity no longer be possible or seen to drop off in terms of expectations.