Is Facebook still an effective marketing tool?

jcsocialmarketing
Julia Campbell Principal, J Campbell Social Marketing

Posted on February 23rd 2012

Is Facebook still an effective marketing tool?

“One option is to struggle to be heard whenever you’re in the room. Another is to be the sort of person who is missed when you’re not. The first involves making noise. The second involves making a difference.” - Seth Godin

Unless you are completely new to the social media marketing revolution, you are probably aware of three things:

  1. You know that your business needs to be on Facebook.
  2. You know that once on Facebook, it is frowned up to self-promote or hard sell 100% of the time (or even more than 15% of the time).
  3. You know you need to engage with your customers, clients and community. (Even if you don’t know what “to engage” means, you know you need to be doing it.)

So you created a Facebook page. You uploaded some photos, filled out the Info section, linked it to your website, maybe even promoted the page to your customers through email newsletters, your website and print materials.

Then you waited. And waited. Maybe you have hundreds of fans, maybe not so many. But you aren’t getting the Likes and comments that you were sure would inevitably come.

So why did this happen? Facebook is partially to blame.

Brian Carter from AllFacebook.com teamed up with the people at EdgeRank Checker to review and analyze 4,000 Facebook pages.

What they found astounded me. The average Facebook page post only reaches 17% of the page’s fans. That’s just one out of six fans!

Carter also found a significant decrease in post “impressions” since June 2011: “Knowing what we said earlier about impressions (they equal people reached multiplied by frequency of views), that means we’re either reaching fewer people, or people are seeing our posts fewer times on average.”

Even if you have never heard of EdgeRank or the complicated algorithms that Facebook uses to put information in front of its users, these statistics are certainly disheartening.

Reality vs. expectations

When Constant Contact came around and revolutionized the email newsletter field, businesses were excited to have a way to track subscribers and to track opened emails, links clicked and conversion rates.

However, the reality of email marketing set in – a 20% open rate on Constant Contact is considered average and event pretty good. This is hard for many people to stomach. You are a busy business person being pulled in many different directions being told that even if 80% of your customers and prospects never open the email, you are doing an ok job.

A huge problem with social media and Facebook in particular is that the reality rarely measures up to the immense expectations, for several reasons:

a) Businesses and organizations have been led to believe that social media is easy and that anyone can do it. They also see it as a free medium that does not involve a lot of time or energy. As we see by Carter and EdgeRank Checker’s study, this is absolutely not the case.

b) We have been led to believe that Facebook is the “silver bullet” that will solve all our marketing problems. Even with no budget and no time to invest, we expect that just being on Facebook and posting every once in a while will provide us with qualified leads and paying customers.

c) There is a belief that because there are millions and millions of users on Facebook, and a business does great/useful/helpful/interesting things, that it should be a no-brainer to connect to customers and prospects! Sadly, not true.

Marketers and business owners are also partially to blame.

A majority of businesses who have created Facebook pages do so without a plan and without the time to effectively manage them. With no posts or fan engagement, the page becomes a ghost town. The flip side of this coin is businesses that use their Facebook pages to post spammy and uninteresting content too frequently.

It should not come as a surprise that with more and more businesses jumping on Facebook,users are becoming increasingly selective in the content that they accept and view.

Facebook users know that you have a Facebook page to market your business – they aren’t stupid. The key to get your customers and prospects to give you permission to advertise is by offering exclusive and unique value not available in other places.

We need to combat Facebook Fatigue.

With all the noise on Facebook, it is increasingly easy to get drowned out.

So how can you combat Facebook Fatigue and get your message across in a crowded marketplace?

1)     Get creative, get surprising, get shocking. In the fantastic marketing book Made to Stick, Chip and Dan Heath write about the importance and value of surprise in marketing: “When our guessing machines fail, surprise grabs our attention so that we can repair them for the future…Unexpected ideas are more likely to stick because surprise makes us pay attention and think.” Think about Super Bowl ads – they get so much hype because they are generally unexpected and surprising. That makes them memorable.

2)     Think outside your industry, your mission and your business. John Haydon writes that it’s important to go off-topic, especially on your Facebook page, because “Facebook fans are people first”. Your fans have many other interests than your business or cause! (Hard to believe, but true.) Find out what these interests are and create posts accordingly.

3)     Get visual. Photos and videos have more weight on EdgeRank than plain text. Articles also have more weight, when accompanied by a brief summary, a good title and a compelling photo. This type of content tends to get more likes and more shares.

4)     With that said, some Facebook pages use plain text very effectivelyDot Com Diva often posts her own unique musings, short and to the point, that get her fans engaged, commenting and liking the posts.

5)     Offer value that fans can ONLY get on Facebook. Otherwise, why should they bother?

Conclusion.

To get noticed on Facebook, pages must create posts that are unique, visual, compelling, interesting and not available anywhere else.

It’s a tall order, and not one that many have mastered.

Like everything else in this world, things that are easy are not worth as much as things that are difficult. And, like everything else in business, you must do it well to get results.

What else would you add? Please post Comments below or email[email protected]  

jcsocialmarketing

Julia Campbell

Principal, J Campbell Social Marketing

I help nonprofits get more from their online presence - more awareness, more money and more impact. 

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