An article on Business Insider stated that because Facebook reduced the number of times brand pages would appear in users Newsfeeds that it was “screwing” an entire profession. However, for anyone who’s watched the space evolve, we know this is just the next evolution of one channel — not the end of an entire, albeit narrow, profession.
It’s Evolution, Baby
As Facebook goes from being the place “where your friends are”, to trying to “connect people”, to flat out advertiser, the reality is that sites and apps like Instagram (yes, I know Facebook owns it), Tumblr, Pinterest and Snapchat will continue to not be their mother’s/father’s social network. Facebook is more than showing its gray hairs as a network with this move, and in fact is doing brands and agencies a favor by expecting them to evolve (I mentioned Instagram, right?).
Facebook is simply maturing, as and such an entire industry is being forced to evolve as well. And as maturing commercial websites go, their life expectancy and ad revenue peak and eventually decline. What this move does do, however, is strengthen Google’s status not only in search but also bolsters Google+’s status. I’ll explain.
Let’s say your business has a Facebook page. And you pay an agency to update that page, in addition to your Tumblr, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter and/or blog. Great.
Recent analytics shows that the reach for those Facebook posts is now on par, if not worse, than your email list. In the world of digital atrophy, Facebook would be the one place I would recommend to not bother spending money or a lot of time — because it’s simply not worth the effort.
Additionally, anyone who’s looked at referral data knows that social media can drive clicks — as does search. What else matters in search? Your social relevancy, lead by Google’s author tag and Google+ pages and +1’s.
Provided your corporate site isn’t stuck in 1998, you probably have a blog and can communicate with your customers via email and possibly Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram — unfiltered. Brands looking to truly connect with customers will still have their Facebook Page to handle complaints, but in terms of content creation and the “death” of an industry… it’s not going to happen. In fact, the content will just go elsewhere.
It’s fairly funny that Facebook wanted to be a place to connect with friends but ultimately sold its soul to companies in order to turn a profit by filtering out friends in favor of ads. And now it’s doing the same to the brands that helped build it.
Walking Away From Facebook
I tweeted that if I didn’t have to use Facebook for work I wouldn’t bother having an account, because honestly it provides very little value for me. It’s nice to see what friends are doing — when Edgerank allows me to – but it’s a time suck and not one that is particularly productive.
Don’t get me wrong – as a marketer Facebook is a great place to target potential customers – but it just cut off its nose to spite its face to please investors.
Speaking of investors, these brand pages were the ultimate investors in Facebook. They drove people to their Facebook page, they ran sweepstakes and campaigns to attract new customers, and they spent ad money to show ROI. And as mobile statistics and ad revenue jumped from these same brand marketers, Wall Street approved.
As Twitter and Google+‘s ad platforms evolve and contain more social data, Facebook’s value and role as a marketer and content provider drops significantly if the only value it is providing is ad retargeting. Other social channels get out of the consumers way and let people filter their streams and engage with brands they *want* to engage with, not just the highest bidder or who Facebook chooses. If Facebook wants to become a personalized newspaper, I suspect they’re going to suffer the same slow death as traditional newspapers when ad revenue drops for other sites/channels.
Ultimately none of the aforementioned activities are going to affect a social media marketer: we’ll still create content and ads for social — it will just go elsewhere.