When it comes to social media, if a business is using it, you can bet that the first social network they levitate towards is Facebook. Whilst Facebook is still the largest social network in the world, active users here in the UK have been in decline for more than a year now. Ask any 20 year old what social network they are using, and Facebook is likely not to rank highly in their list. Econsultancy recently reported that the level of active Facebook usage fell by 3% in the second half of 2013, claiming that the gap between Facebook and it's rivals is narrowing year-on year.
When I launched a new blog for myself a little under 3 weeks ago, I took a carefully measured decision not to include Facebook in my social media strategy.
Despite the subject of my new blog, Camping With Style, seeming like a good fit, my experience of Facebook has shown me that the investment required for organic activities to be effective (i.e. driving awareness, engagement and referral traffic), is just too high to make it a viable option for me.
Why Limit Your Messaging To Just 1%-2%* of Your Followers?
When it comes to starting a community from zero, the recent news that just 1%-2% (Social and Search News that May Change Your Content Marketing) of people who like a business page, will ever see a post in their News Feed, seriously damages the value that Facebook has for businesses.
Why invest time into activities on Facebook when such a small audience will be reached? I would rather invest my time in other social networks that do not limit my reach in such a way.
Organic Facebook Marketing Just Doesn't Work
People argue that paid advertising on Facebook is effective. I've used paid Facebook advertising numerous times and have indeed received an acceptable return compared to say, banner advertising. My argument however, is that once you've paid for exposure and been rewarded with a page 'like', how do you reach that same person again? Organic activity is highly unlikely to work, so in order to reinforce your brand in the mind of the fan you've already paid to aquire, you have to once again, pay to reach them, and so it continues.
The demise of organic reach on Facebook is nothing new, but the latest News Feed algorithm changes mean, that when it comes to starting a community from zero, Facebook just can't deliver
It has long been the case that growing a new Facebook community using organic activity alone, is a long and drawn out process, but it did used to be possible. It still IS possible for sole traders, events, artisans and some small local businesses, but for many businesses, attempting to grow any sort of meaningful community organically on Facebook is a waste of time and other social networks will present much more viable opportunities.
Pay To Play Or Stay Away
When it comes to businesses who already have a few thousand in their Facebook community, it is certainly still possible to reach significant numbers of their audience - 2% of 20,000 followers provides you with more engagement potential than 2% of say, 100 followers. So whilst there is still value in organic activities for existing Facebook communities, in my opinion, starting from zero, Facebook is likely to be ineffective.
Facebook is a media platform and as such, should be evaluated against other paid advertising platforms and not against other social networks
Whilst I am certain that the new blog would in time, find an audience on Facebook, I simply don't believe that the effort required compares favourably with the investment necessary to achieve better results on other social networks like Twitter, Instagram or Pinterest.
In under 3 weeks I have built up over 280 Twitter followers, many of whom are highly engaged, regularly commenting, re-tweeting and mentioning my blog. Whilst it is still very early days, this engagement also translates through to referral traffic and newsletter signups. I have no doubt that this eclipses anything I could have achieved on Facebook in the same amount of time, and that is why Facebook is not part of my social media strategy.