The big complaint business leaders come to SyncLab Media about usually has to do with Facebook and the lack of sales produced from the investments they make in being on Facebook. The one statement we hear a lot is….
One of our clients started during the opening of his presentation to us with… “Facebook Sucks! Not only does it suck up my money, suck up my time and suck up by employee’s energy, Facebook just really does not deliver what all these social media experts say it will do”.
These remarks are not surprising. We have been hearing them from dozens of business leaders for a number of years now.
The question I set out to find the answer to was…, Does Facebook Really Suck?
If so many businesses are not receiving any positive sales traction on Facebook then why are there so many people using Facebook and why are there so many who say they are getting wonderful results from their experience on Facebook?
When I asked these executives why they are not coming out to the public about their dissatisfaction with the results of they receive from their involvement on Facebook most will reply with… (I paraphrase their statements)… Addressing publicly the lack of response to our efforts on Facebook would appear we are wasting money which in many consumers eyes would make us appear as “Losers”. Nobody wants to do business with a Loser.
So, it was on this note I jumped into spending my post back surgery time being online for hours daily over 90 days.
This was a real challenge to take and I was fortunate to be on pain meds or I might not have had the stomach to be on Facebook for what I was finding.
The Adventure Began
My mission was to review how businesses are using the platform.
I did not set up a scientific standard process. I just dug up my password to my Facebook account and jumped in. I used five of our client’s Facebook accounts, (they would not give me permission to use their names) and started daily reviews of the Facebook stream to see how businesses were used Facebook.
I look at:
- Their tone
- Their Design
- What kinda of content was posted
- How frequently
- Who was interacting with them
- Who was still listed as a Friend and how they were using Facebook
- How they responded
I could write an entire blog on all of the details of what I found, but for this blog I would just cut to the chase and bullet pointed my major findings.
The more unfortunate experiences I observed were:
- Too Many Auto-Run Videos. Since most businesses come to SyncLab Media to improve their digital footprint with higher quality video productions, the first question we are asked is..”you are not going to put our video on Facebook, are you? There are far too many Videos in the Facebook stream that run automatically. Facebook is running our target audience off with allowing the videos to auto-run.” I did confirm there were far too many videos that ran as soon as they came on the screen and with Facebook Live it made it rather nauseating
- Executives Posting Off Centered Political Rants. There are three things that should never be talked about or a personal stance taken and they are Sex, Religion and Politics. This was an unusual year for politics and emotions on Facebook..actually all social platforms…was running high. However, the tone of many of the business executives where taking in their posts on political issues was not placing them in a good light no matter what side of the political spectrum the viewer was from. It is still a proven fact that consumers do not like to get involved with businesses who’s leadership is taking, what seems to appear to be, a strong stance on a political issue. The damage I observed many business leaders..many of them I know personally…took after posting a rant on a political issue will be very high and in many cases irreversible. In a few cases I am still working on the businesses may have to be rebranded to overcome the negative image their top executive caused from posting on Facebook his personal ‘feelings’ on a very explosive issue.
- Placing Promotional Links on Personal Photos. This especially was done on the posts of ladies who feel they need to show their glam selfie portraits to their Facebook account. (Unfortunately, I was not granted permission to post the example photo.) This seems to be a trend of some sort concocted by one of the many unscrupulous digital marketing ‘experts’ who promote the need for a radical and more disruptive style of marketing. Obviously, the number of these type of photos, where an informal photo was used of a business executive or employee then linked to their ad, or having a Call To Action Button placed in the photo, was large. Again, the volume of these type of photos in the Facebook stream were producing negative results.
- No Reaction or Interaction. This has been going on since Facebook started, but over the pass three years (when Facebook went Public and was forced to produce larger volumes of revenue to satisfy their stockholders) Facebook started manipulating it’s stream so not all posts a person made were being seen by their Friends. A large numbers of businesses are posting original content and getting no interaction. This became very evident after a few weeks of knowing what a client posted and not seeing it posted anywhere in any of their Friend’s Streams. This actually was the number one and most frequent observation I made….even from some businesses and business people I know personally who say to me all the time…“We are getting tremendous traction and interaction to all of our posts on Facebook.” My review showed they where NOT. Maybe they had a bad 90 day stretch of posts or they were wishing real hard…yeah, that’s the ticket.
Validating Major Complaints
Next up was for me to validate the complaints businesses tell us they have about Facebook. Here is one of the statements I captured during one of our digital marketing strategy sessions.
” We are hearing complaints from our potential customers about there being too many “Sponsored Ads” of all types in our Facebook stream. Overall, we hear sonice Facebook started placing ads in their stream it has resulted in large numbers of their users to cancel their Facebook account or just never going back to using Facebook. Our question is.. why should we use Facebook when Facebook is running off our target audience?”
In review of three client’s Facebook stream:
- Sponsored ads showed up on average after every sixth organic status update. That was very annoying and probably is why so many of the ‘Friends’ these clients had left Facebook over the past three years. There was no standard Facebook policy to be found on how frequently they post Sponsored Ad. Facebook just seems to do what they want. After reviewing three other business’ streams it did seem the executive complaining about the high volume of ads had more ads in their stream than others, which was very aggravating and lead to me wondering if his competitors, or one of Facebooks Sponsors, may have been manipulating the volume and type of ads they posted in this particular stream. If this was standard practice across all of Facebook I would confirm being on Facebook having a questionable value.
- Sponsored competitor’s ads were constantly present in many of the client’s sidebars. Even though there is nothing a business can do about the ads being placed in the Facebook sidebar it was interesting to see potential competitors ads being placed in users sidebar while the business’ promotions was showing at the same time in their streams. This confirmed the value of posting promotional content in the Facebook stream as being of little value.
I did get the feeling after a few weeks that Facebook felt it was more important for a viewer to see their ads more than the social content being posted. The ads, along with the seemingly out of control use of auto-run videos, totally devalued using Facebook for any type of social media.
The ONLY value found was it does validate the business’ existence in the market, but posting an ad on a billboard in West Texas would also have the same result.
Our client described Facebook very well..“Facebook has become a very fast paced Social Only platform for the world of narcissist”.
Obviously, there is much, much more to report on what I found over my 90 day review. In fact, I reviewed as well how several other social platforms were performing. Hopefully, sometime in the future I will showcase what I found on Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram, LinkedIn and a few others.
Granted, many businesses are seeing some sort of value to spending time on Facebook. I am told, by the executives I interviewed, the approve marketing strategies they used on Facebook was ONLY initiated to appease their millennial “troops” who live and die on Facebook socially. The leadership felt if they business was not on Facebook it would lead to employee morale issues.
Fortunately, they confirmed in private they are not seeing any significant ROI using Facebook which will eventually forced them to pull the plug on Facebook and move their efforts to be more focused on their business’ mission instead of Facebook’s ( their millennial’s) business mission.
Facebook is Facebook and will always be Facebook. It was created on the bases of creating an illusion it had vast oceans of users of which are very appealing to marketing and advertising agencies. I have had a Facebook account since before Facebook was open to the public users. In 2011 I left using Facebook on a daily basis due to it was not providing any value to me socially or professionally. Plus, the spam and trolls on Facebook seemed to still be allowed to run wild making the platform even more worthless to me.
When it comes time for you and your business to move off into a more productive social media environment…let me know how I can help.
Also published on Medium.