I’m finding it harder and harder to recommend Facebook as an integral part of the marketing mix for my clients. Yes, they’re almost at a billion users. Yes, they have ridiculous amount of traffic. Yes, they have one of most powerful ad targeting systems… but I just have a feeling we’re seeing the crest of Facebook’s domination and you may want to look into diversifying your digital assets. Here’s why:
It’s not focused on users anymore.
Even before the infamous IPO, Facebook started shifting its focus away from keeping users happy to keeping advertisers happy. New ad units, Timeline for business, Agency outreach and so forth. It seems that most of the “improvements” were and are oriented towards revenue generation rather then user retention and engagement. While still the most popular social media network – Facebook is starting to lose its cool factor. If you search for “facebook losing its cool” on google, you’ll see hundreds of thousands of entries. And even though they’re approaching a billion users, the uptake has slowed down considerably in the early adopter / early majority demo. Also notice how loose the “active users” stats are. Just because there are so many users – there is only a small fraction that is actually active.
It’s too crowded
A couple of years ago, it was easy to set up shop on Facebook and stand out. Just having a mediocre page was a marketing advantage, because you had access to a new pool of customers and your competitors were either too lazy or unaware to pose any serious challenge. These days however, there are millions of Facebook pages for everything from Tide detergent to kayak rentals in Tanzania and the whole system is becoming increasingly more competitive and challenging to navigate. Those who had the foresight to get into the game early are now reaping the benefits of their audience. Those who are entering the field late have a considerable uphill battle in front of them. It’s much, much harder to stand out in a crowded marketplace and that’s exactly what Facebook has become. This drives your engagement, content creation and of course advertising costs way up. I remember running an ad campaign for a music store in 2009 for $200. That same campaign would easily cost more then 10 times that amount now.
It’s not easy
Facebook used to be easy to navigate and manage. You had your status updates, photos, links and likes. Now there are marketplaces, logout ads, Facebook places, SocialCam integration, Timelines, Highlighted posts, Pins and numerous other third party integrations. And it doesn’t seem to be slowing down. There’s a new feature being introduced every few weeks. They recently acquired Instagram and just recently a mobile developer Piecable. When you try to become everything to everyone – you become nothing to noone. This is clearly the direction Facebook is heading in. Will things change for the better? I don’t know… but I can tell you that I’m looking into other alternatives for my clients to reach their target markets.
Facebook has turned from blue ocean to a bloody red ocean. Is it worth your effort and investment anymore? That’s up to you to figure out and I hope I provided you with some food for thought in this post. I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.
– Ernest // Follow me on Twitter