This week, Eat24 announced its plans to shut down its Facebook page in a very public "break-up" letter. As of Monday evening at 11:59 p.m., the food delivery service’s page ceased to exist, the Facebook world blinked, and their 70,000 fans found themselves consuming its competitor's posts instead. Let’s be clear, Eat24 is abandoning the very community it built rather than sticking around to engage with as many of them as possible. What it views as “taking a stand” will be another company’s opportunity to reach its customers. While Twitter and Instagram have their place in successful brand strategies, Facebook offers the most overall value since it reaches the largest number of brand customers.
Varsity vs. Junior Varsity Digital Strategy
Choosing to center a digital strategy around Instagram and Twitter instead of Facebook is the equivalent of settling for junior varsity when you’re good enough for the varsity squad. Sure, you may get more playing time, but you’re playing for a smaller crowd and with less opportunity. At 1.23 billion, Facebook has an active user base more than five times the size of Twitter’s. But the more impressive statistic is that 60% of Facebook’s users sign on to the platform every day, compared to 46% for Twitter (PEW Research). With more users and more uses, Facebook should be the star of any varsity-level digital strategy, with Twitter and Instagram playing important supporting roles for customer service and visual storytelling.
Twitter: The 140-Character Apology
Facebook has 1.23 billion active users compared to Twitter’s 232 million. Even if Twitter doubled its active user-base this year, it’d be 4x smaller than Facebook. (Pando)
For every Oscar selfie that takes Twitter by storm, there are far more tweets that reach only one person. In fact, 59% of brand tweets are directed at a single user. This number has grown 17% in the past year, due in large part to the increase in customer service from brand Twitter accounts. While many of these may be fun engagements with complimentary customers or fans, it’s far more likely that they are saying, “Sorry.” The word “regret” was used 37.5 times more frequently on brand Twitter accounts than personal ones, with “sorry” used 8.6 times more and “apology” or “apologize” uttered 7.4 times more (BloombergBusinessweek). Not only are apologies being dished out in droves, but the tactic isn’t working. Only 30% of brand apologies actually righted a wrong. With the exception of leaders like Zappos, Nordstrom and L.L. Bean, where amazing customer service is an established (and budgeted) marketing strategy.
Organic Reach Has Always Been Hard
“Only 4.7% of customers generate 100% of online word of mouth recommendations.” (EngageSciences)
Brands spent $500 billion on advertising in 2013 because organic reach is hard to achieve, both on and off Facebook. If customers and brand fans could spread the word about new products and great experiences as expansively as ads do, then the need for advertising wouldn’t exist. The reality is only 4.7% of customers generate 100% of online word-of-mouth recommendations. With 95% of customers keeping their word of mouth shut, engagement from that small percentage is even more authentic and valuable. For brands, reach has always required deep pockets, but achieving effective word-of-mouth is far more valuable. 71% of consumers claim that reviews from family members or friends exert a “great deal” or “fair amount” of influence. Facebook is unique in that both reach and customer engagement are available in the same place for a fee comparable or less than traditional advertising.
When Eat24 wrote its Breakup Letter to Facebook on its company blog, the post was ironically shared only 3,500 times on Twitter but over 19,0000 times on Facebook. Rather than thank those fans for helping spread the word, Eat24 will no longer be able to reach its recently engaged brand advocates. There is certainly legitimate frustration from brands who have seen their organic reach drop after recent Facebook changes. But Eat24 had some great fans, and it is losing a ton of potential that could be gained by modifying its strategy to focus not entirely on per-post reach, but instead invest in cultivating a core base of superfans. These are the ones whose frequent engagements will increase the brand's organic reach, and who will champion and spread that brand message to their friends. Ironically, the 19,000 people who shared their goodbye message, and the millions of intrigued friends it reached that way, illustrated that point, but perhaps a few days too late.
Is your brand effectively spreading word of mouth? What are you doing to combat changes to the News Feed algorithm? Let me know on Twitter: @Staceyfurt