Facebook Sucks, But What's A Marketer To Do?

It was never a big secret that Facebook's megabucks were going to come through monetising mobile -- but it has certainly surprised most onlookers quite how quickly the social media giant has managed the feat.

Profits have doubled in Q2 this year compared to last, driven by mobile which now accounts for nearly two in three of every ad dollars Facebook earns.

The results can finally put to bed the myth, or at best half truth, that Facebook still propagates -- drastically reducing organic reach for brands really had little to do with cleaning up "spammy" news feeds. It really has always been about driving additional ad spend by, in particular, opening up the mobile channel.

The spam argument always fell short when one considers that users are free to report spammy adverts and block the advertiser and the rather obvious fact that Facebook was actually turning down the reach of brands that fans had chosen to interact with.

So to my mind, Forrester analyst Anthony Mullen is bang on the money. His comments, reported by The Drum today, that marketers are really peeved with Facebook are completely in line with my experience. Part of the annoyance is in the way it's done. Picture the scene -- a marketing exec looks at their page figures and sees interaction and reach falling through the floor. After wracking their brains over what they must have done wrong and what they're going to tell the client, it dawns -- it's a Google-like algorithm change. Why don't they just be open about it?

Of course, the main problem is the twin issue that marketers hate what Facebook has done at the same time as they realise there really isn't a whole lot they can do about it.

It's a little like taking a trip out on a boat on vacation. There you are, all seated and comfortable a mile from shore, when the local fisherman turned tourist boat captain mentions the price on the harbour wall doesn't reflect the trip he's offering. To carry on everyone has to stump up another handful of Euros. We've all been there, haven't we, in one form or another? What are you going to do -- dig deep or jump ship and swim back?

There is a lot of talk about marketers trying to straddle both approaches by limiting expenditure on Facebook while they look at other channels. Trouble is -- nothing has the reach, the numbers and the interactivity that Facebook offers. Most of all, no other social platform has Facebook's data.

If b2b is your thing, then you're lucky there's LinkedIn -- but if you're trying to reach a mass of consumers and you're already committed to Facebook, what are you going to do? You know and I know there's only thing to do. Dig deeper and have a good moan.

Sorry to be so blunt, but it's the marketing equivalent of when you're a mile out to shore and if the trip you thought you were on will still deliver what you were hoping, you're going to have to pay for some little extras.

When that extra is reaching your fan base, and those similar to them -- and to make it even more compelling, reaching them on mobile -- you really have no choice. 

Like it or lump it, you're stuck.

3 comments about "Facebook Sucks, But What's A Marketer To Do?".
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  1. Tom Goodwin from Tomorrow, July 25, 2014 at 11:43 a.m.

    Great piece.
    Something I find strange is that we use Facebook results now as a healthcheck on Facebook and their future, when in fact they reflect the environment of decisions made long ago- at least 6 months ago.
    So what the results show is that in late 2013, making decisions based on the success of money they spend in early 2013, Facebook seemed like a good idea. That's quite some delay.
    I personally think Facebook is a terrible waste of ad money, it's become the buying an IBM of mediaspend, a few more quarters and ad people won't need to justify spending NOT spending money there, but why they are.
    The future may be different

  2. Grant Bergman from •, July 25, 2014 at 1:52 p.m.

    As a user I love Facebook despite it's heavy-handed manipulations (degradation) of the user experience. Bottom line, it lets me stay in touch with the lives of many old friends who had faded away over the years. Facebook pisses me off every day, but I'm not giving up the benefits.

    As a marketer, on the other hand, I'm still waiting to see the very first brand post – ad or otherwise – that actually makes me want to spend money or become more interested in learning more about a particular brand.

    Am I doing something wrong?

  3. Neil Hunter from Consumer Kinetics Inc., July 25, 2014 at 2:37 p.m.

    Great post Sean, and Grant you are right on it is a love hate relationship. But the math will still work out for FB as the belief still falsely exists that the "Like" actually equates to share points.
    What's a marketer to do? Get more funding to reach your own audience in FB or push them someplace else - take your FB followers and do it once and you will now own them in the new location. There are alternatives that are much closer to influencing the consumer than a Like ever will be. The love moments do turn to hate as we just can't believe that a Like is clicked but the Liker has no intent to buy. What would be great is if someone could actually tell you who went into the store and bought based on a Facebook campaign, or for that matter any digital campaign. Yes selfish promotion moment, my team can tell you and does so very efficiently, and they are available for re-engagement anytime.
    Marketers don't hold hate for FB, but exercise your options to seek out your ideal consumers and more engaged solutions.

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