Facebook marketing is still a favorite for social media marketers, but is it worth it? Many have proclaimed the death of Facebook marketing, due to consistently poor or even negative returns on investment.
Though not all Facebook marketing campaigns are wasted – many businesses have built a strong upward growth curve exclusively from Facebook – it pays to look at Facebook as a marketing tool and compare it to other options. Don’t just use Facebook because “it’s the thing to do.”
While we won’t categorically claim that no business should ever market on Facebook, there are quite a few reasons why people keep claiming Facebook marketing is dead.
Here are the top five:
1. News Feed Visibility is Greek
Not everyone who follows your page will see your post, but if you knew how Facebook computed its news feed visibility, you might be able to ensure that you reach the proper Facebook fans with your posts. Unfortunately, this is a bit of a challenge…
While Google’s algorithm computes around 200 signals when determining search result ranking, the Facebook news feed computes around 100,000. Among the most important are the popularity of the poster’s past posts, the general popularity of this post, how popular a post is with the current viewer, how relevant this post is to posts that have been popular with this user in the past, and so on.
2. Organic Reach is Gradually Decreasing
Between 2012 and 2014, the average organic reach has decreased by 10%. In March of 2014, the average reach was around 6.5%. There are a number of factors that contribute to this, such as overall competition and the news feed algorithm mentioned above.
When you look at the future of Facebook marketing, it’s easy to see how any marketing investment could generate diminishing returns. If competition continues to grow, then your reach will continue to decrease. And if Facebook declines in popularity, an increase in reach won’t matter as much. Either way, a future on Facebook will mean a smaller audience.
But if you decide to risk it, how do you get past the reach barrier?
3. You Pay for Visibility
Facebook openly acknowledges that you need to sponsor your posts in order to increase your reach. This is, after all, part of the company’s business model.
However, due to the gradual decline of organic visibility, you’re going to have to increase your social media marketing spend whether you like it or not. This “visibility cost” doesn’t exist with most other social media platforms, where followers can see your posts no matter what.
When you sponsor your posts, though, your marketing ROI calculations start becoming more complex. Which, then, will generate a greater return, social media marketing or paid advertising?
They are starting to look very similar.
4. Facebook Keeps Messing with the Feed
On top of the fact that the Facebook feed is Greek, it keeps changing. Facebook regularly experiments with the feed and has even gotten in trouble with the media for experimenting on people’s emotions.
The feed will constantly evolve, which means investments in feed optimization could go down the drain next month or next year. Like the Google algorithm, the Facebook feed algorithm changes can make a feed optimization strategy obsolete. This means you’ll have to continually invest in feed optimization research if you want to keep up.
And any changes to the feed’s algorithm could affect your Facebook marketing in unforeseen ways down the road, which means that your Facebook social media spend inherently carries more risk.
Other types of investment, such as paid advertising with clearly defined traffic and meaningful metrics, don’t carry the same long-term risk. They are short-term investments that last only as long as you pay for them.
5. What are Likes Anyway?
Facebook “likes,” once considered almost a currency, have deflated. This is partly because you can purchase them, partly because they are easier to come by, and partly because people have become desensitized to them – in other words, a like just doesn’t mean as much as it used to.
Social media metrics that don’t directly translate to conversions and sales have little meaning for marketers and businesses. While many forms of marketing generate uncertain returns on spend and investment, it’s simply bad marketing to replace the bottom line with social media metrics that, in reality, don’t mean anything at all.
Due to the ever-increasing costs of Facebook marketing and the decrease on marketing returns, some may wonder whether marketing efforts would be better applied elsewhere.
While it may be a bit of a stretch to say that Facebook marketing is dead, there are certainly a number of factors that complicate the marketing process. Using this social network to market to your followers has become more difficult, more opaque, and changes from day to day.