Facebook. You either love it or you hate it and for many people there is a huge in between. But for us, we have banned with other media companies to avoid the heavy costs of using Facebook and explore other social media points that are just as effective and just as meaningful that do not require a pay-to-play theory.
Have we abandoned Facebook? Absolutely not. It is still highly effective in reaching people to a certain degree but that dos not come without a price—a very hearty one at that. We have learned that Facebook and Instagram are nothing more that high priced schemes that actually offer little to no value to the end user beyond a few “likes” and “shares” here and there. The powerful social media platform only slightly helps us reach our goals to informing and educating the public about issues and topics that we feel should be discussed. That is why we are changing the way that we connect with you.
We will still be using Facebook. There is no sense in abandoning Facebook and their extremely powerful algorithm that reaches thousands. But, we’ve learned that Facebook is only so useful and other tools such as Twitter, Reddit, Flicker, Tumbler, and others are just as powerful and help us reach more people for only a fraction of the cost.
In recent months our back office has been looking at ways to build on our ad dollars and reach. For every dollar you spend on Facebook you end up with a very minimal reach—our collaboration with Full Sail has proven that. You can spend $100 advertising on Facebook and on average the content will reach a few hundred to a few thousand people who spend little time interacting with our content. Put that same post on Reddit, and you end up with much more engagement for zero dollars of a ad spend. It goes back to organic growth and interaction.
We have heard the best sales pitches in the world from various social media marketing gurus who insist that Facebook ads are the wave of the here and now. That might be true for some businesses, but for media companies it is a thing of the past and is only a single room in the toolbox. It is kind of like turning on the news at 5,6, and 10–who actually does that anymore and who has time for all of that? It is like paying $2.00 for a daily newspaper with very limited content. Few people actually are willing to do that anymore.
Our website average somewhere around 2,000 hits each day, mainly from right around the area here. We know that because of our back-end analytics. “Boosted content” on Facebook that we spend $100 on draws very little of that. Where as posting and interacting on Reddit and Twitter draws the bulk of it.
You might be thinking that people in Corpus Christi do not use Twitter, Reddit and other platforms as much as Facebook. You are correct. Area residents do in fact use Facebook a lot and area businesses spend a ton on the social media platform. That is what the platform is designed to do. But, there are plenty of people who work, operate and interact each other outside of Facebook and Instagram.
You hear a lot of talk about “Facebook Live” and the algorithm. Well, who has time for that? We certainly use it, but very selectively. Our recent collaboration with FSU determined that the Facebook Live feature has benefitted us very, very little and with the focus of getting people to stay on the platform longer so they see more and more ads is what Facebook is designed for. But then again, it does not mean that it effective.
Let’s say you are a local restaurant and you buy into Facebook marketing. You agree to spend $5,000 a year in Facebook marketing and you get all of this data telling you that “X” number of people engaged with your post. But did they REALLY become activated by your content? Did you run a Facebook only coupon for a free piece of pie with the purchase of every meal to see exactly how many people came into your store and purchased a plate of food for the free pie? Likely you didn’t because keeping track of that data is very time consuming and cumbersome. But, at the end of the campaign Facebook and the marketers who have bought into the program will badger you with all kinds of data showing engagement and interactions. But effective was it REALLY?
To spend even $100 on Facebook advertising seems to be pointless if all you are trying to do is get attention to your product. To get a return on the ad dollars that you spend, you have to get in there hard and really track the data from exact sources. If you aren’t getting people into your restaurant then you are not really getting a solid return on your investment—engagement be damned. Same way with making sure that people hear your message.
Creating great content is key. But, that is not the fix all solution. Like many other media businesses we are leveraging the power of the internet beyond Facebook and while it might seem like a bummer to some of you, it is our way of sending the message to Facebook (who owns Instagram) that enough is enough. You have to think of Facebook as a modern day billboard. They are somewhat effective and they get you in front of a lot of eyeballs. But, do they really get you genuine engagement? Our collaborative research with academia proves that it doesn’t.
You will still see our content on Facebook and Instagram, but we are not going to spending a bunch of time on it. We damned sure are not spending a bunch of money on it either. There is no point to doing it and our internal data proves that it is a waste. We will use Facebook to promote our content but we will not be exclusive to Facebook.
For those of you who are thinking that we don’t understand Facebook. We do and so do the engineers and experts from FSU that helped with this recent year long study. Together, we have concluded that the only real solution to Facebook is to limit it’s use and focus on the media that we believe will increase our reach further without excessive cost.
Most of you won’t notice any changes that we make except that there is less content posted on Facebook and the content that is on Facebook is highly targeted content. We will still post stories on Facebook and we will still put conversations and share noteworthy items on the platform. The changes will be only marginally noticeable.
Let us know your thoughts and be sure to keep checking in!