Dear Facebook Business Pages, We Are Through, It Is Not You It Is Me

Dear Facebook Business Pages - We're ThroughI am both a marketing gal and a small business owner. My time and monetary resources are finite (with time being my most precious commodity) and Facebook, you aren’t there for me on either of these! With that in mind, I am breaking up with you. And it really is not you, it’s just me and the time and money I am willing to spend to make you happy.

Recently a big brand, Eat24, who had 70,000 fans shut their page down because they weren’t able to get their posts seen by anyone. They had a really funny exchange, with Facebook coming back to say that the brand needed to shut up and understand that someone’ friend’s new baby or homemade cupcakes were more important than their pictures of sushi.

Your Friends

One of the things that Facebook said in their reply was that:

There is some serious stuff happening in the world and one of my best friends just had a baby and another one just took the best photo of his homemade cupcakes and what we have come to realize is people care about those things more than sushi porn (but if we are in the mood for it, we know where to find it Eat24!). So we are sorry that we have to part this way because we think we could still be friends – really we do. But we totally respect you if you need some space.

Facebook Word SearchI do agree that maybe a friend’s baby IS more important than seeing a page’s posting, but I am not sure why Facebook feels the need to make that decision for me.

Today on my wall, in order, I have one of those stupid “tell us the first three words you see” word search from a lady I know very peripherally, a post from a young friend, a business friend, my father-in-law, my father-in-law (he is a prolific poster!), my brother, ironically a picture of an old business acquaintance’s baby, an updated profile picture of our friend Fred, a cute business quote from someone in my network and a post from an old friend from Florida.

Had I been given the choice, I could have skipped the baby, the old-old friend’s post, one of my father-in-laws posts and for sure the word search (which Facebook feels I should see every one of!) What is conspicuously absent to me is postings by one of my best friends (whose posts I comment on and who I message several times a day), my father and my husband (from both of whom I have let Facebook know I want to see every post). For some reason, Facebook has decided that stray and random strangers should take precedence over my Daddy and sweat pea.

I GET IT, Facebook was started as college sharing site and college high-jinks are fun to some people. For me, college was a chance to hang out with people who thought farting was the height of hilarity and to share a bathroom with thirty other women, several of whom had PMS at any given time. Good times for sure.

Too many “friends”

Facebook Spammy MessagesSince I am in marketing, I do have A LOT of friends (3,972) at last count. In that number are my friend-friends and family, business people I have met over the years and friended, Realtors around the country because I do Realtor Marketing in addition to small business marketing, authors, marketing experts, and then everyone else.

Now, over the years I have thinned the herd and eliminated people from foreign countries known for scams, have unfriended and blocked anyone who sent me a special message starting with “Hi Dear”, and anyone who posts excessive political commentary for either side. The last one is very subjective on my part! While I do feel like they have the right to post whatever they want, I don’t have time to let negativity from either political party enter my business networking time. Make no mistake, for me Facebook IS business networking.

While I do enjoy seeing the limited amount of posts Facebook shows me from my real friends and family, I can see my husband’s stuff on Google Plus, I talk in person with my Denver besty once a week and exchange frequent emails during the week, I talk to my Tampa besty on the phone as often as we can manage and my Daddy doesn’t post all that much anyways.

Friends With Benefits

My Facebook friends have to be friends with benefits to be a part of what I spend my precious time on. Some ways they benefit me include:

  • Posting interesting business stuff that I can share to other networks
  • Posting their own business info so that I can comment and increase our connections
  • Talking about marketing
  • Talking about what is working in their business
  • Sharing interesting or motivational quotes
  • Sharing interesting or motivational stories about people who are succeeding in life or business
  • Posting pictures of rescued dogs (this last one is just because I like great stories about doggies finding forever homes)

I am not that fun in real life. I don’t want to “poke” anyone, join them in a game of “kill the gangsters”, be on their birthday calendar or wish them birthday wishes unless I know-know them, or any other of the other fun, social things that social people like to do. I am sure part of my perplexity at Facebook is just that I am not that interested in doing what some people like to do, again my fault, not Facebook’s.

Profiles For Business

We have been telling our clients lately that growing their Profile is more important than growing their page. Well, it is time to take my own advice and stop trying to make our pages what they once were, a way to connect with new people interested in marketing….sigh.

So the big “kicker” about why you should use a page instead of your profile is the limit of 5,000 friends. Well, I have been on Facebook for quite a while now and have almost 4,000 friends and and 500 followers. I know that I am reaching my limit, but only laziness is keeping me from clearing up another thousand or so people from my friends list who have no real connection to me at this point. I cannot foresee a time when I will need more than 5,000 friends and they can follow me if I reach that limit anyways.

When you have events, it is friends you invite, not people who like your page. When you recommend your page, it is to friends. I just can’t see where focusing on my friends is going to be a bad thing.

Pages You Like

Let’s get back to Facebook thinking they know what I like. I don’t like babies and think they are funny looking and while I applaud my friend efforts to procreate, I would rather see stuff about marketing from pages, stuff that my clients and business friends post and skip the baby pictures. And I HAVE indicated that to Facebook. I have marked many business pages as things I would like to see in my timeline. No go.

To see page posts I have to go…

How To Get To Facebook Pages

…see, all the way down there, #14 on the left? Those are the business pages I have followed. At this point I have to manually go there and click the tiny little link to see what pages have posted. I never actually do that. One of the reasons I don’t is that I am not able to put them into lists like I can on any other social network. I like having lists like Influencers, Marketing Peeps and Email Marketing so I can sort things out and see what everyone is up to. No go.

Business Page Traffic

One of the reasons that we did use Facebook was to drive traffic to our websites. The old page format (which I still have for a while at least) allowed me to put a link to my website front and center (1.) and to have pretty graphics that would prompt people to sign up for our free offers (2.). Those are going away with the new page layout.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I know that few people ever came to our pages anyways (they tend to like and see wall posts more in theory), BUT at least there was a glimmer of a chance. As you can see, the new design eliminates even that small chance. The arrow is pointing to the tiny little link that you would have to click to see our offers. I would never actually do that so why would I think that anyone else would.

Facebook Old Layout, New Layout

Not to beat a dead horse, I KNOW that this Facebook’s prerogative. They are aggressively trying to make money by aggressively trying to reduce the marketing opportunities that I can get for free. I get that and while I am sad, I will survive, just not by investing my time in Facebook.

See all the changes

Promoting Posts

Did you know that only about 1-2% of the people who have “liked” your page will actually ever see your posts. Let’s consider my Marketing Artfully page. Recent posts have been seen between 5 and 119 views (once). So let’s set 10 as a reasonable estimate of the number of views I can expect to receive on a post. 1,131 Fans with 10 views per post is right in line with what we have heard, about 1% (.88% for you mathy people).

So what makes the difference between a post that gets 11 views, has 6 likes (over 50%), and one share. This post was originally written by a man who is very well respected in the marketing industry:

Facebook Low Views High Shares

And one that gets 119 views, has only 1 like (almost 1%), and one share. This post was also written by a well respected expert.

High Views Low Shares

Who the hell knows why the one with one like and one share beat the crap out of the one had almost 50% likes? Facebook does not share it’s algorithms with us so there is no way that we would construct a plan to figure out how to make that happen again. We would just have to hope that something caught on.

Pay to promote a facebook postBut wait, there is more! I could promote that post which got 119 views to 5,000 to 15,000 more people for the low-low price of just $30. Since it is not a link to my website, I guess my play here would be to gain more likes for my page, which would lead to more views, which would lead eventually to more hits to my website? Okay, let’s go with that!

If Facebook is only showing my posts to 1% of likers and we estimate that 10% of people who actually see a post might click to my site (I made that up, if someone knows an actual number for this, please let me know!) and think a fair return for $30 is 15 clicks ($.50/click) then I would have to have 15,000 likers to get 150 views (1%) to get 15 clicks (10%). This means that ALMOST EVERYONE I have a potential of reaching with that $30 promotion not only has to engage with it, but then has to take the additional step of liking my page for this to make any sense at all to me money wise.

There is NO WAY that is going to happen.

if my math is messed up on this, please let me know!

Am I Deleting All My Pages?

So the company that we started this story with was so glum that they deleted their page with 70,000 likes. That seems ridiculous to me. I am not going to delete any of my pages, I just will not be spending any more time trying to figure out our Facebook Business Pages.

I will post amazing stuff to my profile and I am lucky to have elves that work for me who can post to each of our pages twice a week so that they don’t go fallow. There is still value to having current Facebook pages as that is where many potential clients check to see if you are in business. They can also check my messages and make sure I am not missing anything important.

If you are an entrepreneur doing this yourself shouldn’t take more than an hour or so a week, just make sure when you turn your focus elsewhere you aren’t completely ignoring Facebook.

I am assuming I will have a little bit of a hard time with this. Checking my Facebook bits has become part of my ritual on my phone. Because I am moving my efforts away from Facebook, I will now need to spend more time on productive social networks like Twitter and Google Plus (right now my Pinterest is more personal and less business-y).

But, like they say everything is a habit. If I consciously try to make sure I am hitting the other networks, I will eventually ween myself off!

Small Business Advice

Much of the controversy surround Facebook’s move to a “Pay To Play” model has centered around Brands. For those of you who are not marketing junkies, a brand is Nestle or Oreo or Nike. These companies have deep pockets and lots of man hours available through employees to be able to weather this changeover.

For little guys like me and my clients, reducing time spent on Facebook seems counter-intuitive. Isn’t that were everyone is hanging out? Could be, but they are truly there to like stupid word searches, see pictures of puppies who need rescued and play games.

I think it is time to admit that Facebook is never going to be the small business marketing Mecca it was in the past. That unless you have a huge presence established already, you are going to have to pay to get more “likes” and that those likes are much less valuable than they have been in the past.

It is time to move marketing time and energy over to social networks that are okay supporting business people (Twitter, Pinterest and Google+). Heck, Pinterest actually encourages commerce by allowing price tags.

I Really Tried, For The Love Of God Will You Please Show My Stuff?

If you have gotten down here, you are obviously as marketing obsessed as I am or maybe you are someone who works at Facebook and who has some pull. I understand that you can’t show everyone everything and that you don’t think my normal effort to create compelling content that actually helps people is enough.

BUT TODAY I tried! While I am breaking up with you, I did spend quite a lot of time getting a cute kitten breakup picture. I searched my stock photography site for just the right combination of “I hate your guts and am dumping you” paired with your favorite, cute kittens.

Throw the girl a bone, show this last post that I will be actually trying on to more than 5 people, I beg of you!

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Tara Jacobsen, Marketing Speaker, Consultant, AuthorTara Jacobsen is the owner of Marketing Artfully, a marketing services and consulting company focused on small businesses, entrepreneurs and Realtors. Find out more about her Small Business Marketing Services today!

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