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The Great Wall of Facebook

Wall scaling at Camp Wadsworth, South Carolina, ca. 1918
Wall scaling at Camp Wadsworth, South Carolina, ca. 1918, from The U.S. National Archives on Flickr

Not being on Facebook gives me a new perspective on companies using Facebook for marketing. (And no, my perspective is not that I miss the marketing.)

The thing is that marketing doesn’t reach people who are not on Facebook. Now, most social-media users are on Facebook, so if I were a marketer I wouldn’t care about not reaching the few people in my target market who don’t use it.

But as a marketer, I might start finding that a slowly increasing number of the people I reach out to directly (bloggers, influencers, etc.), are not on Facebook. After all, isn’t it the early adopters who are the first ones to jump ship? And aren’t early adopters often the same people a marketer wants on their side to influence their following?

First hand, I’m noticing more and more that I have to reply to people reaching out to me by saying, “I’m sorry, I can’t see the photos you linked to because I’m not on Facebook.” Or “I’d love to learn more about your event, but I’m not on Facebook.” I’m not sure the marketers I say this to have any idea what to do with my response.

Now, I’m certainly no trailblazer in leaving Facebook. I heard many a cheer from people when I finally pulled the plug. I anticipate Facebook will start to bleed a certain kind of user (nay, is already bleeding this kind of user), and that this will continue over time, regardless of whether their overall membership continues to grow or begins to decline.

So. I’ll ask the rhetorical question (it’s rhetorical because I’m assuming you know I already know the answer): What does a Facebook-based (or -focused) marketing campaign do when peripheral influencers are on the other side of the wall?

(This is a revision of an email I initially sent to Sister Diane.)

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Tara Swiger

My answer (for all-sized businesses, not for *you*) is: do NOT be a Facebook-BASED business. Make sure you have your own (as in – you own it) home for everything you do, with all the details your people need to buy, decide or attend. 

You can run amazing promotions, giveaways, etc etc on Facebook and still have a page (or post) on your own site that converts people into buyers (they may miss the chance to win, but they’re still going to be able to buy). You can even do lots of *campaigns* that are Facebook-only…as long you still have a buying option (and a campaign or two) for everyone else. 

(the caveat would be if you made FB apps…but then you don’t want non-FB users!)

Anonymous

Right – I think Facebook is to many small-biz owners who feel non-tech-savvy what Blogger used to be – a just-add-water web presence. Unfortunately, with potentially adverse results in terms of content ownership (Steve, as always is right on) and with very little personalized marketing strategy.

…Setting aside for the moment all issues of mind-crushingly bad UI. :-/

Tara Swiger

Also, I like your new header!

Nancy Cavillones

ha! i didn’t even notice you left FB…when did this happen? good thing i have you in my feedreader otherwise, i’d never know when you’ve updated. (it’s not like i’ll ever remember to check every blog i read…)

Steve Hoefer

When you post something to Facebook, Facebook owns it.  Which is not what you want for your marketing.  Post your pictures, your blog posts and everything that you want people to see on something you control. Like your own blog! (Or company site.) Use Facebook (And Twitter and Google+ etc) to drive traffic to the things you control. It keeps you and your marketing (and your customers!) out from under the control of another company, especially another company that doesn’t have the same priorities you do. And if and when people flee from the service (Myspace, Friendster, etc.) you don’t have to move your content anywhere. In addition it makes it easier to manage the social networking and curate the interaction with your fans/friends/followers/etc since most of it is in one place.

I’m in the progress of pulling the plug on Facebook. I’ve already killed my fanpage there and I’ve even pulled the “Like” buttons from my site. I’m costing views to my own site, but I’ve decided I’m not comfortable doing business with Facebook. 

Steve Hoefer

I’ll admit marketing is something I do when I take a break for making awesome things.  I never really figured out how to run a Facebook page, at least a way that felt natural. At the end I ran it like an RSS feed for those who prefer FB to RSS. I have never been able to get any decent interaction there, unlike Google + where I seem to get into interesting conversations daily.

I just ran my analytics for the last year and found that Facebook was a pretty consistent 1.7% of traffic, though they’re generally poor visitors. (They don’t stay around long and don’t visit many other pages.)  So I won’t miss it, but I’ll check again in a few months to see how the number changes.

In fact going back over the numbers it looks like no more than 5% of my visitors are from social networks and all of them have short time on site and small page views.  I have no idea how that compares to anyone else’s traffic. By far the best referrers and best visitors come from “curated blogs” (BoingBoing, Make, Gawker blogs, etc.)

Stephanie Ivy

The problem is that people have somehow decided Facebook is the be-all and end-all. It isn’t. It’s one tool in the toolbox. And even if people ARE on FB, a lot of marketers don’t understand how to reach them; I come from a community background and tend to approach things as being all about interaction. But there’s still the idea I’ve run up against of oh, we’ll just put something on FB! Well, no, there’s more to it than that…

Kirsten

Well you know my position about FB, being one of those who encouraged you to run away. The advice I tend to give is: “if it works for you, use it.” But, being old school, I think that there is really no replacement for a stand alone website. For all of the awesome or not so awesome social media and selling sites out there, it is best to have a stand alone website that is a place where anyone can go. It is the hub to the spokes of everything else. I have to say that it gave me pause to leave FB with the analytics being as high as they were, but I rarely saw a conversion to sales. I know that is different for other businesses. True I got views, but I have seen better results from other sites. Even when I was a regular user of FB I thought that it was a poor choice to make it the centre of one’s online presence universe. It seems like a very bad idea for the following reasons:  1. You have no control. YOU HAVE NO CONTROL. I cannot repeat that enough.  2. Longevity. I can’t say that I feel confident that any social media site is forever. How many of you still look at Friendster or MySpace? What is different about FB? It is offering an IPO, and that could be what signs its death warrant. People are already skeeved out over the privacy issues. In talking to people about why I left, the overwhelming complaint is about what people post about themselves, and the backlash over choosing to subject oneself to the banalities of peoples’ lives that we might rather not be subjected to, and the consequences of unfriending said friends. There will be another thing. It… Read more »

Anonymous

“ I have to question for the millionth time whether it is a good idea to spam the crap out of your friends.”

AMEN!! As more social channels emerge (Google+, Pinterest, etc), I am consistently surprised by how many of my friends use them as duplicate broadcast channels – as if repeating the same messages across many platforms will have a positive marketing effect. I think all this approach does is create more noise to screen out of my day.

What I’d love to see is for people to evaluate each channel, and then choose one or two that work best for them – and then, take the time to make use of these channels in unique enough ways that I can follow on both and have more varied and deeper ways to tune into their stories.

Chloe Nightingale

I have the same problem with companies that require a mobile phone number for things.  I don’t have a mobile, this means I can’t sign up.  Some people and places (like the Doctor’s office) really flip out when I say I don’t have a mobile phone.  And some poeple act like they don’t believe me!

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