Two weeks ago we made the decision to delete our Facebook presence.
Unlike some companies that have the left social network in a huff, we aren’t angry. We aren’t bitter or resentful. No angst.
We approached our decision from a business-like perspective, carefully analyzing the return on investment. The same way we do for other forms of marketing and advertising; you know, the way any company should evaluate the channels it uses. We saw it just wasn’t worth it.
Like many companies, we fell into the category of those who feel that time and money spent on Facebook is a waste. It wasn’t that we didn’t like connecting with our fans and friends there; rather it was recent changes in Facebook’s promotional policies that made the likelihood of our fans even seeing our posts slim to none.
We gave it a good three years. We paid FB to advertise our company’s page; we added our FB page link to every employee’s e-mail signature, noted the URL in our advertising, linked our page on every page of our website. . . and over those three years we built up 6,000+ followers. We posted regularly, often two posts per day, and were careful to avoid promotional content and ad pitches – our posts, like our blog, centered on industry news and insights that our followers could likely use in their own work.
As Facebook began to limit newsfeed exposure for brands like ours, our daily posts might reach between 30 and 70 followers . . . out of 6,000+. Let’s call that around 1% on a good day. If we wanted to reach more folks (around 20%) that would cost us $5 for each “promoted” post.
So let’s say we paid $5 per post for 8 posts per week. That’s $2080 per year to reach the AUDIENCE THAT WE BUILT WITH OUR OWN CONTENT. And that’s only reaching around 1,200 people. Want to reach them all? You’re talking 4 times that or more.
Okay, so maybe we are a little miffed that Facebook has decided for us – and our followers – who we should be allowed to talk to each day. That’s the opposite of what socializing is all about. But that’s their business model, and we get to take it or leave it. We left it.
We don’t object to paying for promoted posts that reach NEW followers; nothing is free in this big old world and we get that every company has to make money. The magazine industry exists thanks to paid advertising, with brands seeking to engage via media. But organic reach – that carefully built engagement of followers that took so long to build – is now a thing of the past. You cultivated the relationship, but Facebook decides how often you get to connect with them. They have become the social chaperones of the digital age.
We join many other companies who have grown frustrated with Facebook, some leaving in rather spectacular flameouts like Eat24’s infamous exit. Facebook’s snarky reply to made it clear that they couldn’t care less what businesses thought of their new algorithms, asserting that organic brand content was not something that their users want to see — even when they’ve indicated that, yes, indeed, they do.
Will we be back? Never say never. As any marketing or media channel evolves, they’ll offer advertisers and marketers options that might or might not make sense. If it looks good, we’ll try it. If not, we do not feel compelled to be on Facebook because “everyone has to be,” which has been the breathless mantra repeated by tech-savvy digital marketers in the past few years.
In this age of data driven marketing, it should be up to the brand, not the platform, to decide who sees their messages. That is the crux of effective marketing.
Late last year Facebook announced some new targeting tools that should “allow publishers to serve content to specific subsets of people who like their pages, pull down time sensitive posts to avoid displaying outdated content and, optionally, allow Facebook to automatically post articles that are already popular on the social network,” according to Martin Beck in MarketingLand. Those tools are only available (at this point) to the big media organizations with, we imagine, robust marketing budgets to match. It’s on them to decide if their investment is worth it, and if they want to let Facebook make these critical marketing decisions on their behalf.
Meanwhile, we will continue to engage with our followers and fans on Twitter and LinkedIn, where our content is not filtered out and we aren’t charged to reach the audience that we’ve built. We share many of our posts on LinkedIn with specific groups based around industry interests, and often engage in some great discussions there. We will also reach many of you with our Weekly Newsletter via Constant Contact.
We look forward to seeing you there. See ya ‘round, Mark.