On November 6, 2007 business owners were introduced to what promised to be a marketing silver bullet. A way to build an online presence free of charge on a platform that already had 30 million users. Even better, this platform would allow you to collect “fans” and allow those businesses to maintain a constant stream of communication with their fans. It was pretty brilliant.
All that was required was to promote your presence on this novel, new platform called Facebook. And boy did you. For the better part of a decade businesses have been promoting their Facebook presence on menus, brochures, TV and radio commercials – heck, nearly every marketing piece produced. Fan count became a valuable social currency. Many businesses saw this as the Holy Grail – an opportunity for nearly zero-cost marketing. In turn, businesses spent countless hours posting updates or paying someone to do it. They did it under the premise that building an audience was a good long-term investment. Well, you know what they say about things that appear too good be true…
Fast forward to today. With over a billion users, not having a Facebook page would seem to reflect a degree of social dysfunction. Yet the dream of digital marketing (at least on Facebook) appears to be dead. For years, Facebook has been slowly turning off the spigot for business pages to reach their fans. Today less than 8% of your own fans will see a typical post from a business page – unless you pay for the privilege by “Boosting” it. And Facebook has been clear that its users don’t really want to see these posts anyway.
Of course Facebook is a business and no one can fault them for trying to make money. Yet Facebook has become an expensive toll road – one you have to pay for each and every time you use it. So much for “new media”. In this new world, all the work you have done and might still do to build a fan base will ultimately be owned by Facebook. Your cost to communicate with these fans is infinite. That’s one reason why our printer, Freeport Press recently shut down its 6,000+ member Facebook page.
As a company with a pretty sizable Facebook presence with nearly 50,000 fans on our related pages, we too have seen a huge decline in its effectiveness. If this was the sole way we communicated with our audience, Facebook would be incredibly expensive. Too expensive. Fortunately we have our own vibrant marketing channels from our magazines, websites, large email databases and other social media platforms. Are we ditching our Facebook pages? Not today. But the reality is that Facebook has become a small cog in our own marketing wheel. There’s only one Holy Grail we know of.