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November 10, 2014

Is Facebook Still Worth It? Why It Is and How to Use It

If you haven’t heard, Copyblogger recently shut down their Facebook page – poof. No more likes, no more status updates, no more shares and no more friendly updates from our Copyblogger friends.

On October 17, their Facebook page shutdown occurred – even though it had quite an impressive accumulation of 38,000 fans. Why the shutdown? They claimed the social media platform just wasn’t the best spot anymore to invest their time. They also mentioned other reasons for parting with the platform, including concerns of too many spam accounts liking their page.

The thought of wiping your business Facebook presence off the map might make you nervous, but rest assured this was not a rash decision – or was it?

Justified or Dramatized? You Decide

Facebook marketer Jon Loomer responded to Copyblogger pulling the plug on their account, saying the popular content marketing company missed potential opportunities to use Facebook to their advantage. As Copyblogger claimed to have poor reach and engagement with its audience on Facebook, Loomer took the matter a step further and evaluated past status updates. He found that many of the posts were un-engaging messages with a bit of text and a link; no images included. The lack of strategy may have killed their efforts over the years, but Loomer outlined several actions Copyblogger could have taken to revive their Facebook presence. His list included purchasing ads, selling products, increasing their web traffic and building an e-mail list.

Copyblogger’s decision to kill their Facebook page has caused a bit of a stir. Most likely, their decision to leave Facebook was carefully planned and executed. Facebook truly may not have been a good match for their company. However, it’s hard to not wonder what two or three months of paid Facebook advertising would have done for Copyblogger. Even a paid promoted post here and there could have helped turn their situation around.

What’s Happened To Facebook Pages?

With that said, it’s undeniable that it’s becoming increasingly difficult to market on the platform without paying money. Remember the good old days when organic reach for business pages was nearly 100%? Oh, and it cost nothing.

1. Game Changes With Facebook Pages

Think back to when Facebook first became popular. It wasn’t eons ago, but it’s safe to say that the social media giant drastically changed the way people communicate from all over the world. Not only did it change the way that regular people stay in touch with friends and family, it also provided a new communication channel for brands of every industry. Although several brands were ahead of the curve with their own brand “profiles,” business marketing on Facebook was generally untouched territory. When Facebook first launched, marketers had no idea that a powerful marketing platform was right at their fingertips; that was until Facebook introduced a new feature that would change social media marketing forever.

Facebook Pages for Brands was launched in 2007, providing a platform for both large and small businesses to communicate with customers and spread awareness. Business pages began to grow pretty rapidly, with both large and small brand names setting up their own corner on Facebook. Two years later, consumers were able to “fan” Facebook pages. I personally remember seeking out my favorite brands on Facebook to show my support. Not only that, I wanted my real life friends to know what brands and businesses stood out to me. How about that awesome Mexican restaurant in town? I’m their fan on Facebook. What about my favorite stores at the mall? I couldn’t wait until they launched their own Facebook page. It was truly a whole new insight into your favorite brands. As consumers would fan and like dozens of business and brand pages, Facebook marketing took yet another turn.

2. The Race to Rack Up Likes

Soon enough, the number of likes on business and brand pages became a status symbol. Likes became so important that brands started thinking outside of the box to increase their exposure. Contests and promotions were held while enticing people with free prizes for clicking the like button. Brands would watch their fan count jump, and reaching their target audience was easier than ever thanks to good old Facebook. One status update would reach nearly every person on their like list, with sales and promotions right at the fingertips of targeted customers.

3. Flash Forward to 2012

As Facebook became a mecca for online brand advertising, organic reach of brand posts slowly started declining. Complaints from companies about organic reach started coming, with Facebook claiming they were weeding out bad or uninteresting content. Coincidently (or not), Facebook later introduced the option to boost or promote posts to reach more users. At this point, Facebook was still beating around the bush about their attempts to encourage companies to buy ads.

By the end of 2013, Facebook fessed up about the real reason behind the decline of organic reach. At this point, the writing was on the wall: Facebook wanted brands to pay to reach customers. As of mid-2014, organic reach for the top 10 brands on Facebook is down over 40 percent. Facebook’s organic reach is expected to drop as low as 1 percent
in the near future
.

4. Facebook’s Financial Forecast Changes

Facebook’s ultra low organic reach levels are frustrating, but it’s no surprise. After all, Facebook is a business. They want to make money just like any other brand, and they are certainly raking it in. Ad revenue for the platform for the first quarter of 2014 was $2.27 billion – up 82% from 2013. With the predicted 1% organic reach coming in the near future, Facebook’s financial forecast is looking like 100% cash.

The Fork in The Facebook Road

With the reality of poor organic reach, paid advertising and promoted posts, it’s now decision time for digital marketers. Do you carry on with your typical Facebook strategy and hope for the best, or do you cave and hand over your credit card? There really isn’t an easy answer, as Facebook serves different purposes for every company. However, we can always analyze the reasons why you should stick with Facebook for your business at this point in the game.

4 POWERFUL Reasons To Still Use Facebook in a Low Organic World

With the obvious struggle of brands reaching consumers without handing Facebook some Benjamins, it’s relevant to wonder if you should continue with the platform. Believe it or not, there are still strong points for using Facebook, and you might not want to pull the plug just yet.

1. Let’s Face it, Everyone Has a Facebook Page (except Copyblogger). Facebook may be on the decline, but it’s not dead. Mostly everyone who is engaged in the online world and wants to promote their business is on Facebook. A lot of businesses that are living in the 1990s with no website even have a Facebook account. Of course, a company website is still ideal, but being on Facebook is better than nothing. This isn’t to say you should jump off a bridge if everyone else does it, but let’s be honest here. For the majority of businesses, it looks kind of weird if you aren’t on Facebook.

2. Facebook Forces You to Create Engaging Content. You should already be focused on creating great content. If you’re not, here’s a perfect reason to get started. Even with low organic reach, there still is a reach at this point. If you create awesome content and post it on Facebook, a few shares here and there will naturally increase your organic reach (for free). Another idea is to encourage Facebook sharing directly on your blog. If your blog has high traffic already, this is a perfect opportunity to bump up your organic reach on Facebook without paying a dime.

3. It Still Lets You Connect With Customers. You might not be popping up in their feed as often, but that doesn’t stop your customers (or potential customers) from searching you out for support. If customers want to approach you, having an active Facebook account leaves an open line of communication. Closing down your Facebook account is essentially giving part of your customer service the axe. If anything else, leave your Facebook page open so people always have multiple options of reaching out to you.

4. 1.32 Billion More Reasons to Stay Active. With 1.32 billion active monthly users, there is always going to be someone on Facebook who is wanting or needing your services. Even if you have to pay some money to get into the newsfeed, that is a lot of eyeballs looking at your promoted posts or advertisements. Giving paid Facebook ads a fair shot might be worth the roll of the dice. At least consider paid ads an option before closing down shop for good.

As you can see, there are a few valid reasons to stick with Facebook for a little while longer. If you think you’ve hit the end of the Facebook road, there’s a few tricks you can try to breathe new life into your business page and use the new algorithm to your advantage.

4 Ways To Use Facebook CORRECTLY:

1. Rethink Your Strategy. This is a bit easier said than done, but your overall Facebook marketing strategy might need an overhaul. Your strategy should include quality content – lots of it. Try tinkering with the days and times of your posts. If you post twice a week, try three or four times. Post your original content, then post repurposed versions the following week. If it seems like your audience is engaging more with video posts, you’ll know what they’ll be looking for in the future. This may be a slower process, but gauging the needs of your audience is crucial for social success.

2. Use Images in Link Previews. Since Facebook’s goal is delivering quality and relevant content to their newsfeeds, be sure to include attractive images in your original blog posts and articles. This way, when you do post your link, it’s more likely to catch the eye of your audience with an included image. With that said, it’s important that you use a variety of images on your link previews. Seeing the same old images over and over won’t do much of anything in terms of audience engagement.

3. Put Engagement in Overdrive.
If you aren’t always on the ball responding to your audience, it’s time to dedicate some time to responding to every post. Giving users the best experience possible will ensure that they’ll recommend you to their friends. Even if you don’t get a share directly on Facebook, word of mouth and referrals are extremely powerful. Be sure to answer every question and address any complaints in a timely manner.

4. Break out The Wallet and Buy an Ad. Although this probably isn’t the advice you want to hear, you might have to take the plunge and buy a paid advertisement. If your ad reaches the right people, you’ll receive all your money back and then some. It’s crucial that your ads reach people who want to see your content; targeting the entire US probably isn’t the best route in most circumstances. The better news is that you don’t have to spend tons of money to see an ROI – small budget Facebook ads can be effective, too.

If you’re not ready to spend money on Facebook, there’s always the option of investing more time on other platforms such as Twitter or LinkedIn. However, Facebook isn’t dead – it’s just evolving. Brands now have to consider whether Facebook is worth shelling out cash for advertising, or if they’re better off spending their marketing dollars elsewhere.

Facebook is frustrating right now, but it still remains the largest social network in the world. Continue to create engaging and sharable content, and connect to your audience the best that you can. If Facebook still isn’t cutting it for you, explore all of your social media options. Follow
the footsteps of your audience and invest your time and money where they engage you the most.


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Julia McCoy is a top 30 content marketer and has been named an industry thought leader by several publications. She enjoys making the gray areas of content marketing clear with practical training, teaching, and systems. Her career in content marketing was completely self-taught. In 2011, she dropped out of college to follow her passion in writing, and since then grew her content agency, Express Writers, to thousands of worldwide clients from scratch. Julia is the author of two bestselling books on content marketing and copywriting, and is the host of The Write Podcast. Julia writes as a columnist on leading publications and certifies content strategists in her training course, The Content Strategy & Marketing Course. Julia lives in Austin, Texas with her daughter, husband, and one fur baby.

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