Is it Time for Content Marketers to Abandon Facebook?

image of Batman and Robin

If you spend time on Facebook, you’ve seen a great weeping and gnashing of teeth as Pages realize that they’re only reaching a tiny sliver of their audiences with each post.

Facebook’s noisy, overvalued IPO means they need a better revenue model. Page owners are being strong-armed encouraged to pay to “Promote” posts to get a wider reach to the audiences they built in the first place.

For a business with a really large Facebook audience, this can run into tens of thousands of dollars a year.

Does this suck? Yes, it sucks.

Should you have seen it coming? Yes, you should have.

This phenomenon isn’t as new as people think it is. Pages never reached 100% of their subscribers. But a recent algorithm update does appear to be making things noticeably worse.

This morning we republished our post on digital sharecropping, which is the dangerous practice of building your online business on someone else’s (virtual) land.

The latest in a long line of Facebook messes is a prime example of just what makes that a dangerous strategy. And the dangers won’t stop with Facebook.

Social platforms are great tools for expanding your audience. But there are three things I want you to keep in mind if you still want to use Facebook (or any platform you don’t control) to promote your business.

Principle #1: Facebook owes you nothing

You may think they do. You may argue that you attracted a certain number of users to “Like” you, thus helping them build an audience they can show their spammy display ads to.

Facebook, much like honey badger, don’t care.

You can keep thinking that your relationship with Facebook is a two-way street. And you can keep being disappointed when Facebook pulls another lousy stunt and you get shafted.

Or you can use Facebook for what they’re good at — having conversations with people who might become customers. If you can do that without becoming dependent on Facebook, you’ll do fine.

Or you may decide that Facebook isn’t worth the effort. That’s fine, too. Contrary to what some will tell you, not every business “needs” to be on Facebook. It’s a tool — nothing more, nothing less. You need to make an informed decision about whether or not the tool makes sense for you.

Principle #2: Understand why people use the platform

People go to Facebook to share duckface selfies, pictures of grandkids, and memes from George Takei. Silly and personal are the watchwords.

Some businesses can fit into this pretty well. Health coaches, wedding photographers, and gluten-free cupcake bakers are part of their customers’ personal lives, so using Facebook (judiciously) can work well.

Nonprofits with the right message can also do well. The Occupy Sandy organization (or un-organization, as the case may be) uses Facebook and Twitter to quickly recruit volunteers and donations for hurricane relief and rebuilding in the Northeast. Their supporters’ webs of personal connections are incredibly well suited to this. It works.

It can even work B2B, if you have the right brand. Superstar business author and coach Pam Slim does a great job making audience connections on her Facebook page.

But you need to watch out for two things.

First, the minute you actually depend on Facebook for your business, they will change their terms of service in a way that causes you pain. Refer back to Principle #1.

Second, “engagement” does not equal “customers.” I see too many coaches in particular who have magnificent engagement on Facebook. They get tons of shares and comments and likes. But that’s not translating into business.

That’s not marketing, it’s an annoying hobby.

Principle #3: Facebook is an outpost, not your home base

I’m not here to trash Facebook. (That’s Brian’s longtime job.) I’m here to encourage you to use Facebook if it makes sense for you, and to protect yourself against the Terms of Service roulette.

One popular Page I saw was recruiting her Facebook fans to move to Google+, Pinterest, and Instagram.

No.

Never build up an outpost at the expense of your home base. Your home base is something you control — a place where you pay the bills and you make the rules. In other words, it’s your primary site.

Your Twitter, Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Instagram, and any other fans/followers should have frequent opportunities to come back to your site for content they can only find there, and to subscribe to your email list for even more premium content.

Think of social sites as trade show booths. They’re excellent places to spark conversations, find new leads, and spread the word about what you do.

But you still have an office where the main work gets done. That’s your primary site. Keep it … well, primary.

Still want to use Facebook?

Next week, we’ll be running a detailed reference post on how to make the most of Facebook today, if you decide it’s a good outpost for you. [Editor’s note: to read said post, click here.]

We’ll talk about:

  • How to reach more of your audience
  • The advantages of images versus text-only posts
  • Whether and how to use Promoted Posts
  • Whether the Interest List will save your engagement
  • What Page Notifications are and whether they can help

Make sure you’re subscribed to the blog updates so you don’t miss it.

And this week, do yourself a favor. Create a fantastically useful piece of content for your primary site. Use Facebook (or wherever else you hang out) to drive traffic to it.

Spend a little less time and emotional energy on your social media outposts, and a little more building the asset that contributes to your long-term business success.

About the author

Sonia Simone


Sonia Simone is co-founder and Chief Content Officer of Copyblogger Media. Get more from Sonia on Twitter and .

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  1. Yeah, I know lots of physical business in my town who focus their entire web presence on Facebook, saying it comes with a big audience and FREE webspace. I always tell them it’s a mistake, because when the Facebook changes rules, which they constantly do, you’ll always be at their mercy.

    When I told them to create self-hosted blog and build a personal email list, they just threw me a blank stare, saying it’s completely over-complicated and useless.

    Can’t wait to meet ‘em again in a few years when Facebook radically changes…

    • A few years or a few months.

      I get a little worried about the entitlement mentality I see around using free services like Facebook. They’re not the water or electric company. They don’t have to do anything. And we don’t have some kind of right to use their services, particularly as we aren’t paying them.

      • I 100% agree with you on this. I do use it but my primary source is either on my blog or in person. I never understood how so many people can complain about something that is free. Like the ole saying goes, “you get what you pay for”.

    • Hey Mars, this won’t last forever. Small biz owners are notoriously slow on the uptake. They just want to run their business and can’t be bothered with anything superflous like marketing :-) Haha.

      I’ve talked with many that will happily spend $1000 a month on a billboard ad, but ask them to spend a fraction of that to develop their web presence and it’s considered an unnecessary and exorbitant expense. Just stay in front of em, and they’ll come around for you.

      • truly said.

        Just hand around and they will come around looking for you

      • A common problem with most small businesses worldwide. Too many still investing in billboards, yellow pages and newspaper advertising, for little return. The trick is identifying and connecting with that small percentage (5-10%) of business owners that are looking for effective online marketing options. However the problem goes both ways.

        Most of those companies building/promoting websites, SEO services and social media don’t do a good job, building sites that can’t be found and get poor returns. Too many small business owners have been burnt by these false prophets [profits] hence stick with the old ways…. Who can blame them?

    • I’ve been going though CopyBlogger’s archives and I can’t find the promised follow-up blog. Any idea where I can find it?

  2. This post makes a lot of sense. Why build somebody else up and make them advertising dollars. As Robert Kiyosaki would say mind your own business and build your own brand. And this work for you because I came to this post from Twitter and now I’ve subscribed to you and all your blog updates

  3. ““engagement” does not equal “customers.””

    I think that engagement, over time, will lead to customers, but too many brands are looking for an immediate return on a one-to-one level. Just because someone shared your content that doesn’t mean they are willing to open their wallet. It might take a 100 pieces of content for them to even think about buying something from you, and even then they might not pull the trigger.

    • If you don’t actually do something to foster conversion, engagement may never translate to customers. Particularly the small-scale solo business (fitness trainer, financial planner, etc.) can have a tendency to rack up a lot of “fans” who will never, ever buy.

      • Are you guys really saying to stay away from Facebook? That it’s a waste of time?

        • Did you read the article?

          • I read the title and the lead and flipped out, sorry.

            Those combined with the sub-heads of each tip gave me the impression it was another “no one see’s my post unless I pay” anti-facebook article.

            I see now that its not. Should have known better than to question the CB genius ;-D

      • Sonia, what would you suggest the local small-scale solo biz owner like a fitness coach or financial planner do, if not hang all day on Facebook?

      • Couldn’t agree more Sonia!

        I struggle to find a balance with people that “like” or “share” on the social media platforms and getting them to follow through to my website where the real content is and to engage with me there.

        It seems any engagement is just “a click of a like button” away and that’s it.

        I am now adopting a realistic view of just adding a brief “headline” and link on the social media pages and if people go to the website that is a bonus. I am now concentrating my energies toward marketing from the website directly.

    • Imagine a Facebook page without anyone able to see the number of people who clicked the like button. Imagine if the only insights to see are likes/comments/shares of posts and the demographic aggregate of who likes the page, but not individual numbers of likes. I think that would force marketers to focus on creating and cultivating relationships and less on providing fodder that nobody cares about.

    • I think you can do better with less that 100 pieces of content on your site, if it targets your ideal customer. They’ll search and find you. On facebook, all your 100 pieces are just conversations in the past, and each time you speak again, you have to start all over againg. Painful.

  4. A critical point of understanding that I reached after listening to Matt Mullenweg (founder of WordPress) give a presentation:

    If you are using but not paying these companies (FB, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest) you are not their customer, you are their product.

    Thanks for writing this Sonia! By the way — have you seen the Black Friday stats from IBM? Reporting that only .34% of sales were referred from social? Yikes.

    • I love that Mullenweg quote. Regarding IBM, that stat doesn’t sound low. Who buys IBM? And what do they buy? That doesn’t sound like an industry that could benefit from SM. It would be interesting to see numbers across the board.

      • This IBM data (while surely not bulletproof) comes from customers that use IBM Digital Analytics Benchmark which allows them to compare data anonymously across all of those using the service. It’s not IBM specific nor is it even industry specific. It’s across the board.

        I’m sure there are research professionals (can Tom Webster chime in?) that could evaluate the methodology here but the report won’t be doing any good for Facebook shareholders that’s for sure.

        And Twitter didn’t register with a single sales referral. LOL. Surely someone out there on Black Friday bought a copy of SNL Best of Will Ferrel because of an “I need more cowbell” tweet or something!

    • The stats on that social media post have been widely questioned, but the larger principle is valid — social media isn’t normally where people go when they’re thinking about buying. But there are no absolutes — if the fit between the product and the platform is there, it can work. I think too many businesses go blindly into social because they think they “have” to be there, instead of coming up with answers to hard questions.

      • @soniasimone. Yes Sonia, this is so true. Many small business owners equal “Facebook” to social media, because their teenage kids are into it. And as they don’t (have) take the time to get the big picture about how new technology can truly help them grow their business, they open that FB page. Now, they say to their business colleagues “my business is into social media”. My company is trying to help business owners “come up with answers to hard questions”. But they don’t always want to listen :-)

  5. Great post Simona, to abandon facebook may be too radical, to attract customers and potential customers to your own site, where you own content, while keeping facebook, twitter, pinterest, you name it to attract new customers/fansmay seems a better choice.
    I totally agree with Mars Dorian, too many small business rely exclusively on facebook for their digital presence without realizing that their investment in terms of time, effort and fan base could be gone overnight.

  6. Facebook is a hot mess. But as long as people laugh at my jokes I’ll still hang out there. I would never use it for business, though.

    • I don’t use it for business at all. We post the Copyblogger posts every day, but it’s not a significant outpost for us, we see much better return on Google+ and Twitter.

      • I have to agree with you on twitter. I just started using it about 6 months ago and i have gathered more of an audience then Facebook. Still trying to figure out the Google+ thing but i am gaining some on Pintrest as well only because of what my blog is about.

      • Is this because you can actually go out and search, comment, engage with others on G+ and Twitter? I just created a facebook page for my website and It appears I can’t even search and comment on other pages. Is that true?

    • Yeah, unfortunately, I get a ton of traffic to my interior design page (The Design Junkie) using Facebook. I gained 20 new followers just yesterday.

      It’s so HARD not to trust it, but I know it’s silly for me to do it all the same.

      • I think it can work for some brands/industries. And personalities. Just like Pinterest isn’t a good outpost for all brands.

      • Visual businesses like yours are going like gangbusters on FB and Pinterest right now. Keep your eyes open and I think you’ll be fine. :) That way, if/when the landscape shifts, you’ll be flexible and prepared.

    • I tried using FB for my small business just to say that “I’ve tried” and it turned out being more of a pain and a burden. Turns out most of my business comes from word of mouth. Funny thing is that I’ll always get a few comments from well-meaning customers about how my business will “skyrocket ” if we go on FB. Thanks, but no thanks.

  7. Such a strong argument Sonia for building your own digital space. I would think this argument holds even more weight in countries such as mine where Facebook (and currently YouTube) is often banned for so-called religious reasons.

    Unfortunately local small businesses here fail to learn their lesson and continue in the misguided belief that an FB page is the crux of their online presence. To make things even worse these same pages openly flout Facebook’s promotional guidelines often holding “tag & win” type contests, etc.

    I’m almost hoping Facebook does something drastic enough to open people’s eyes at last!

  8. Facebook engagement and numbers on a Facebook page lead to conversions.

    After 100,000’s of thousands of fans, let me tell you Facebook is one of the best marketing mediums I’ve ever found.

    I sell off the timeline.

    I sell off Facebook ads.

    And every time someone goes away from Facebook because “Facebook doesn’t work” or “Facebook is being unfair”, I just laugh and say…

    “More for me!”

    Lovin it.

  9. Sonia, I wish you’d have put the link to the gluten free muffins ;) Seriously though, I still like FB, and I think it’s a great place to hang out with my students, post some photos and links to cool stuff, and my students can post photos for me to see too. But I’m no fool. I have no expectations from FB. If it generates leads – great, but usually it’s for people to have access to me on an informal basis and to start conversations.

  10. This was a great post. I actually find it difficult to spend time on Facebook, and would love to delete my account. But it’s difficult to do that when you work in an industry with so many devotees, or if you’re responsible for managing content on an organization’s behalf. Nevermind devotees among true friends! Will the day I retire be the day I can finally cut the cord?

  11. Sonia- I have been pipping this tune since the days of old (over 25 years of internet time). Its the same-o-same-o every time a new shiny object comes around. Keep it up, as some do listen now and then.

    You shake a hand to start a business relationship – you shake a hand to complete one. No technology in the past, present or future will ever replace that. jes’ sayin’

  12. I think that people keep turning to Facebook and all the rest to generate business because it is easy. You can build a good-looking Facebook page in less than 15 minutes. The directions are clear and easy. It feels like you are receiving excellent service.

    Most business owners cannot build a web site in 15 minutes. There’s a domain name to procure, hosting to figure out, not to mention putting it all together. And who hasn’t heard of or been through some kind of terrible experience with a web developer? Building your primary internet residence is just about as messy as building your own house – you need expert help or to invest a whole lot of time.

    None of that changes the fact that Facebook (and all the rest) are not there to serve the needs of businesses. Even though they would stop paying me to write status updates, I wish I could convince some of my clients that Facebook is not as important as they think it is.

  13. Thanks for putting Facebook in it’s place, Sonia! I have a lot of fun with it and admittedly get business there, but it’s mostly a tool for staying in touch with existing and past clients and customers.

    In other words, a social networking thingy, definitely not a marketing resource to depend on. Why anyone thinks FB owes them anything is beyond me.

  14. Business owners use Facebook because it’s big and easy.

    And they hate self hosted site like ones that run WordPress because you start with zero audience, and it’s hard to manage.

    Heck, I use my WordPress site as my homebase, and I still hate WordPress!

    Usabilty and security for self hosted sites are still extremely low. A good compromise is using easy social tools to add to your email list, and skipping the chore of maintaining a website.

    • Hashim, we’ve got to get you on Synthesis. ;)

      I actually hate FB’s interface much more than WP, because it changes constantly. I’ll get everything down, and then something is updated in the middle of the night and nothing works like it did yesterday.

      • Sonia, I’ve had my WordPress site on Synthesis for the past 6 months and love it! Great bunch running it and they have helped me out a few times.

        Since moving to Synthesis the site has not “broken” once after the initial migration.

  15. Hi
    Sonia
    Social media is the best way to engage with your audience.Through social media you can come closer to your audience and understand their feelings. This can help you in satisfying your readers and making your trust more strong on your audience.
    Thanks for this article

  16. Great insight, and I agree about the danger of hosting your business on someone else’s platform. It is like counting on being able to crash on your sister-in-law’s couch indefinitely. Sooner or later, a move will happen. :)

    I hang on Facebook more than I should because it is just totally enjoyable. I am an extrovert and love building community, so it is a natural fit. I think that certain people may use a FB connection as a tipping point to do business because by watching snippets of a business owner’s life go by, you learn a lot about who they are and what they value. If that is a part of your buying criteria, then it works.

    By far, my bread and butter sales comes from my mailing list, so that is where I try to drive most marketing activities.

    But I like having the excuse of messing around for an hour on Facebook and then justifying it because I am “building my brand.” In reality, I just love connecting with people, no matter where it leads. :)

  17. I have found facebook the place where I can really engage and create relationships – more so than any other social media. However your caution is well-taken. Majoring on my blog is definitely the way to go for growing my business. Thanks, Sonia.

  18. I wanted FB to work for my business because I thought I already understood it (as compared to the ever-changing landscape of new social media avenues.) I was wrong.

    I finally have over 800 people following my page, but it is a hollow victory–they don’t care about engaging with my brand because they were bought and paid for via sponsored posts and other advertisements. My base (organically) is around 220–they engage frequently…when they get to see one of my posts. It is so frustrating.

    I am not ready to give up on FB, and I am still willing to spend money for exposure, but I’m tired of wading through [what feels like] social media quicksand.

    Rant over.

  19. You know what though, I have found from personal experimentation that paying to promote your posts is pretty much a waste of resources. Measured against the virality of other posts that I have shared (even at the same day, time, etc) there wasn’t any measured increase of traffic. It was a fun test but I wish I had my dollars back.

    That being said, I agree 100% with everything else you’ve said. and i appreciate the gentle reminder to keep traffic on my site, not on my Facebook page.

  20. I very rarely post anything on FB business pages anymore, and when I do it’s generally to post a link to a blog. I found that creating lists of current and potential “core” clients/friends and inconspicuously dripping information on them (while being a part of their conversations) is much more affective in building business online. Build your small local business database and drip on it thru FB, and the rest send an e-news thru MailChimp. Best ROI there is.

  21. Algorithms will come and go — whether they’re called Edgerank or Panda, makes no difference. The only two things we ever really control are our websites and our mailing lists. Beyond that, all is gravy. BUT – having said that, we still need to be where our ideal clients are. Our websites are not the centers of their universe. (Sorry, Copyblogger – I love you, but it’s true.) I come here once in awhile, but I don’t hang out here nearly as much as I do on FB, Twitter or even YouTube. Sad, but true. Thankfully, if we keep our wits about us, we can still build deep and meaningful relationships with our customers and prospects with the right mix of all of it. But every business is different. Every audience is different. The trick is to know yours!

    • Totally agree! As long as you understand that you don’t control those platforms and they don’t owe you anything, they’re great places to go hang out where your customers are.

  22. Great points, here. Google and the honey badger do have much in common…

  23. I know I’m preaching to the choir, but if small businesses want to focus on Facebook in some respect, they should spend their energy developing amazing content and offers that get readers and customers to share with their friends on Facebook. This is what moves the needle for brand awareness, SEO, and conversions (by way of personal recommendation from the sharer). All the more reason to set up your presence on something that you have control over.

  24. Great read and good points. To Principle #1: Facebook owes you nothing… I somewhat disagree here. For major brands spending millions, if not hundreds of thousands of dollars on paid media with Facebook, there does need to be a level of voice from the customer to ensure it is a two-way street. As we know, this is how FB monetizes. Continuing down a path of dictatorship, is neither good business practice nor will it allow FB to scale; brands will shift funds to other mechanisms that are less risky (display media, SEO, SEM, etc.).

  25. I have two Facebook pages, but I haven’t done anything with them. I’m thinking about deleting the one and creating and replacing it with an author page. But, I’m still on the fence when it comes to Facebook. I guess I still see it as a ‘grownup’ MySpace.

    *I look forward to reading the posts in this series.

  26. I love this post! Just goes to show, one size does not fit all! Great advice as always. Sonia rocks.

  27. Hi Sonia!

    Yes, FB is just a tool.

    But, I don’t use a lot of tools that piss me off at least monthly.

    It’s the attitude that FB execs-Zuck, take towards (our) my privacy.

    They just don’t care.

    And, it’s the kids i worry about.

    But, like most others, I keep my account open…because I get traffic.

    But, clients?

    The Franchise King®

  28. I experimented with the Facebook “promote a post” deal and used it to get 5000 new blog subscribers (in exchange for a free download) in about 5 days for only $50. That’s pretty remarkable, considering I only have 6000 likes on my FB page.

    Does it suck to pay to reach your own people? Yes, but your “likes” (or fans or whatever you want to call them) aren’t “your” people. They’re Facebook’s (as you eloquently pointed out, Sonia).

    I think we need to think of this as traditional advertising. A smart content marketer won’t use this tool to promote their content, but they will use to try to convert “likes” into real subscribers. And then from there, as we all know, you can slowly build trust and convert those readers into customers or whatever you want.

  29. Great post. “Never build up an outpost at the expense of your home base.” I love how you put it . A lot of big companies have the resources to splurge on FB via promoted ads and things like that. But like you said, if I were a small business I’d sit down and think twice about investing limited resources for questionable results. And while i agree that FB is a publicly traded company looking after its own quarters, I just find the principle of promoted posts (making you pay to reach your entire base) infuriating.

  30. I’ll say this: Facebook is absolutely frollicking worthless for most businesses doing B-to-B stuff. I blocked Facebook from my computer, and rescue time tells me that was a fantastic move. (I still use on my tablet and phone, but I’m so glad I’m not on there much.)

    I think that EVEN THOUGH facebook could be a viable platform, focusing on it is going to harm 99% of the copyblogger type businesses. The people that do it right (derek halpern, james wedmore) are gonna be fine in any medium.

  31. Jane Pellicciotto :

    This makes me think the good old fashioned e-newsletter is still one of the best ways to engage people. It’s an intimate fixed space and while it doesn’t have that conversational immediacy, there’s less of a frantic quality to it.

    I recall reading an article about how Facebook selectively shows you updates from friends. I often have to go into someone’s home page just to see what they’re doing, thinking they stopped posting updates. No, it’s just that Facebook hasn’t shown me anything in a while.

    This article reinforces the need for an actual marketing PLAN about how you are integrating your various ourtreach efforts. I’ve long thought that while FB can work well for some businesses, the motive for why people are there hasn’t changed since the beginning, which means that you’re dealing with people who are scanning, checking their own stats, scrolling for something juicy. Not exactly the kind of eyeballs you want.

  32. Great post, Sonia. I’ve been getting frustrated with Facebook and thinking about this issue a lot lately. Too much. I need to focus on making my site better and building a list! :)

  33. If that is the case, then what should we use instead of facebook?
    Twitter, linkedin or something else!!

    • Sadek, you need to re-read the post. :) You need to make sure your *primary website*, on your own domain, that you control is in great shape, and you need to keep sending traffic there.

      Then you can use whatever outposts make sense (including FB, if that’s what you decide) to spark new conversations and extend your reach.

  34. I agree with Sonia. It makes sense to market your business on Facebook only if that is where your customers hang out. If you engage with them there, they will find your posts whether you pay to promote them or not, I promise!! But Facebook should not be the be-all, end-all site for anyone.

  35. Great insight here Sonia! I especially like the comparison to the trade show booth. I feel that when Facebook first started gaining traction, it was the end-all, be-all of social media. Now, everything has become specialized. (Which goes to your point of having unique content on individual social networks that visitors can only get at that specific network). As long as Facebook is being used as a niche tool and not as a crutch, business will be fine.

  36. Sonia, this is one of the most insightful articles about the current state of Facebook affairs that I’ve read. I think too many companies are taking the “ignorance is bliss” approach, choosing to be in denial that Facebook is just not working, and is definitely less effective than it was just a few months ago. As other social media platforms like Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram explore way to monetize themselves, we’re bound to see more of this type of behavior…but Facebook still takes the cake in the bait and switch department…

  37. Sonia. All too true. With a lot of small businesses, I find the deeper challenge is that they’re overwhelmed with the regular creation of “real” content. They thought Facebook was the easy way out with short posts and pictures and no blog to maintain or promote. The ones that get it and start to generate content come out ahead. The ones that gnash their teeth over Facebook or Twitter (but don’t have their own original content) end up spinning their wheels. Great post!

  38. When I worked a lot with small businesses, I had a presentation that I called the Diamond System, like a baseball diamond. Self-hosted site was at home base, and social was halfway around at second base. It worked well to visualize how the various promotional activities and sites were related.

    First base was the local directories and third was promo sites like PR Web. I am not sure now I would even put Facebook on the playing field for many small businesses.

  39. I think Facebook is killing itself with the pay for ads model for businesses. I would think that they could find another stream of revenue, rather than use businesses for profit…

  40. Thanks Sonia. Here’s one thing I’d like to see in next week’s articles, and maybe it’s a dumb question, oh well. So I, as a matter of fact, AM writing a brilliant piece of content going up this Friday. I’m going to have it auto-post to Facebook. …then what? What is a good way to keep plugging this post on Facebook? I have a sliver of my Fans seeing my posts – but if I post the link/blurb again, I am 99% sure the SAME sliver is getting to see it. Do you have any suggestions on how to make that piece of content keep giving so that more Fans/friends of Fans can interact with it, before we move on to Promoted Posts? (which I’ve done too – just want to do it right the first way).

    Like Jeff Goins illustrated fabulously above, by the way, Facebook can be an EXCELLENT lead generating source. No need to take out an ad in a magazine, just do a FB ad to FANS of the magazine and send them a coupon if they give you their email. Hooray!

    • Rose, yes — Andrea Vahl will have more specifics for you on how to improve the number of people who see that post.

      Mostly it boils down to improving engagement — the more people who like, comment on, and share your content, the more readers FB will show it to. If you have one post in particular that you want to get a wider reach, you can ask some friends to come by, like & share, and comment. You don’t want to do that for every post, but once in awhile when something needs a push, it works.

  41. So many people are jumping on the Facebook bandwagon because the industry leaders are telling them to.

    When I first started that was what I did as well. Got a fanpage and everything. But overtime, I realized I didn’t really like having one.

    Lesson here? Only use Facebook if you think it’s right for you and your business. Don’t follow what others are doing and find a marketing strategy that you love doing so you don’t demotivate and cause yourself burnout.

    Great post Sonia =)

  42. Right on Sonia. The only use we have for FB, Twitter, Google+ and other spokes of our social media universes is just that – They are trade show booths. They are outposts. These are great places to meet people and to connect with them. You can represent your brand and your expertise using all these free trade show booths, but in the end we must concentrate most of our effort and energies on our primary site. For most of use that would be our blog and/or our membership site. I’m sure you’ll agree, digital sharecropping isn’t a good business plan. Excellent article.

  43. Sonia, thank you for putting this argument in such a pithy and ordered way.

    I do think this message is beginning to get across – albeit slowly…

  44. Man, excellent article.

    I have tried to tell people to stop writing for facebook for free. Same thing goes for youtube and twitter. If you are not promoting and developing your brand then you are wasting time. The sad thing is people don’t understand that all of their great uploads are OWNED by these sites, so basically you do all the work and end up with nothing. Congrats now you’re a digital Sharecropper.

  45. Excellent article. It is risky to leave your content marketing strategy up to a third party that you have no control over. Sure, you may have a semblance of control over the content you share on Facebook, but when it comes down to it, how Facebook allows that content to be viewed (or not viewed) is entirely up to them. Principle 3 in this post, and your recommendation to write great content and then use Facebook to drive traffic to it are spot on.

    I wrote a piece on this a few months back for our company blog as well, if anyone wants to check it out. http://www.catalystsearchmarketing.com/facebook-not-your-corporate-website

  46. Good points, though I disagree that Facebook “owes” us nothing. As users (consumers), we are stakeholders in their organization. Very valuable stakeholders at that. They should consider us just as much as they consider their stockholders and the rest of their stakeholders — that is what it means to be a socially responsible organization. It would behoove them to place focus on their users…any strategy that doesn’t focus on the consumer isn’t going to work in the long run.

    Unless, of course, you disagree that social responsibility should be sought. In which case, we delve into a discussion of ethics.

  47. To me, the greatest annoyance has been the sponsored stories. It really looks like you posted the material. As far as I can tell, there’s no way to tell Facebook that you don’t want to post them, and they also don’t show up on your timeline. I think it’s one of the shadiest things they’ve done so far, and I’ve gotten a lot more picky about the pages I like.

  48. You know I have a good friend over in the USA, a guy called Matt Bailey at Sitelogic Marketing. We did a tour here in Scotland together during which he was promoting his book in which he comments about how to consider when and how to use Social Media channels such as Facebook, and this article by Sonia totally backs up what Matt was expressing, and over here in Scotland more people are beginning to see the effects of what the article on this page refers too. And I couldn’t agree more about where you will actually do business online, it is not going to happen just being dependent on your social media channel. The thing is the Brits love a good old chinwag, but at times are just talking a load of cobblers on their pages. Do I really need to know what you are eating right now…no. But, if you pop up on LinkedIn and offer the possibility of inviting me to your website because you think I am the right audience for what you do, then that is getting traffic to your GOAL page, in your PRIMARY site, that might see me part with some cash to not only engage with you, but possible endorse your business. Go to Google Insights and enter the word ‘facebook’ it really did look like it was flattening out during the whole of 2011. I know some people in marketing who saw this thought it’s time had come. But it seems to have gotten a little turbo boost in the last wee while. So, it remains a popular channel, but you should still consider why you want to go or be there with your business..

  49. Sonia thank you for your thought provoking article! It really is true that Facebook does not owe any of us anything even though many of us get wrapped up in the hipe. I work for a non-profit org promoting small businesss & entrepreneurs who constantly tell me that they don’t have time to spend on Facebook. You just confirmed in my mind that Facebook is not for everyone. Of course that needs to be determined individually but what a relief for the harried small business owner.

  50. “That’s not marketing, it’s an annoying hobby.” Ha I love you.

    I actually remember listening to an audio of your outlining digital sharecropping way back whenever that was (first teaching sells wuzit?), and having my attitude toward social content (vis-a-vis ownership) forever changed. Thanks!

    And so no, I wasn’t surprised to see the new Promote fees… I was delighted! One of my most common objections from my clients to putting more effort toward a proper content marketing plan goes something like “Oh, we just do facebook and get lots of buzz from that”. (No clear answer to what ‘buzz’ translates to buut.) And then I have to take a deep breath and try and get them to settle in for some education. Now at least I’ll be responding to a problem (“what? we have to pay now?”) instead of trying to get people to see, who don’t want to be bothered to see.

    It’s all just channels. Channels will come and go. Just at look at how long we relied on storks to deliver our babies! Now that’s almost totally gone, isn’t it.

  51. Aloha Sonia, I like your article and also read all people’s comments here. I think Facebook sometimes works and also is frustrating when you make all your effort and only get a few fans. I found very interesting the experiment made by Jeff Goins. Another interesting achieve is from Harlan Kilstein, I can’t imagine how he arrived to 100,000 fans, that’s incredible.

  52. Well, Facebook is behaving just like Google and other big time “rulers of the world”. We are here just to serve their interests. If in the process we can get a leftover, we should be grateful to almighty Gods.
    Actually Facebook is slowly dying since the day of its birth; nowadays at a faster pace, however.
    Like any other socializing network…everything inside it is shallow. Nobody cares about anything, just to post things that they think might represent them, about which nobody cares.
    Facebook is good to engage in conversations if you are a FB fan, but then again, we have the mobile phones.
    Mu question is: Who needs Facebook…and what for ??

  53. Hey Sonia,

    First of all – YES.

    This is actually an article I was going to write myself – I wanted to write it in a slightly more direct & controversial way (I think the heading I had in mind was ‘Let’s all leave Facebook’). I had this vision of MZ waking up one morning to a completely empty Facebook and saying ‘Where did everybody go?’

    Of course that’s not going to happen.

    Also I’m glad you wrote it and not me – not only because you put it brilliantly but because you have the audience that I don’t have (believe it or not I was going to propose this as a guest post to a few blogs I really like & more suited to the subject, CB included – maybe I missed a trick there) and in the end I decided it was a slight diversion for me anyway – instead I just wrote more stuff I really care and know most about.

    I’ve always seen Facebook as a kind of necessary evil – you can’t ignore them in the social media world but that doesn’t mean you have to like the way they run their business. They seem to make some very strange decisions in my view but you have to hand it to them, they are huge. Who knows for how long?

    take care & thanks for another outstanding post,
    Alan

  54. Excellent stuff – bang on the money – have been telling clients this for years..

  55. Great article… Love the Batman cartoon!

  56. I couldn’t imagine as a business owner making FB my online hub. But thenI don’t use FB much at all. I prefer writing and publishing so that’s what I do. I know many people do really well with FB, but I simply don’t enjoy it all that much.

  57. Sonia,
    I can’t understand a business looking to create an online presence and then it on a space that could take it away in a heartbeat. What sense does that make?

    Is it strictly because Facebook is easier to create than their own blog presence? Could that really be it?

    Good thoughts.

    Hanley

    • Ryan, creating a big is quite simple and many big hosting sites have templates to use. Like anything it will take done time to master and to build your audience.

    • Business owners are busy, and at first glance there are a lot of technical bits involved in putting together a self-hosted WordPress site. You can make it absolutely step by step, but when you run up against the mental wall of “I’m not a techie, I’m never going to understand that,” it’s very tricky to get around.

      That means there is a *ton* of opportunity now for content creators to team up with WordPress developers and get good sites built for businesses.

  58. Great post. Not sure when you wrote this but we must be channeling each other’s thoughts. :) I wrote a blog post on this same topic the other day when I noticed that some “self-appointed” experts were encouraging their clients to buy likes on Facebook. http://imagineeringnow.com/2012/11/buying-likes-social-media/ What a huge waste of time and money. Unfortunately, business owners love to chase bright shiny lights… and Facebook is the brightest at the moment. It’s great to have people like you but likes are not leads. If your budget is tight, better to invest the money attracting leads to a platform you own and have control of.

  59. Really great post
    Enjoyed the read as I am just about to leap into the world of Facebook
    Thanks

    JD

  60. Really like this post, think it raises some key points too. Social Media is PART of a Marketing Mix, its not the whole marketing mix. And Facebook, Twitter et al are TOOLS to drive traffic to your website. Like anything it takes work, Facebook owe us nothing I agree with that, but its still got a part to play – not all social media sites will work for ALL businesses. The Key is to get those that do work for you, working well, and spending time developing the relationships outside of those networking sites (much like here at Copyblogger) invite comments, and start engagement on articles. Give people a reason to bookmark you and want to connect wherever you have a presence.

    If it doesn’t work for you, something else will, you just need to find out where your audience are hanging out.

    Clair

  61. Very nice points you got here.

    Sure, Facebook is one of the best places to be in because of the virtually unlimited potential customers you can get. But yeah, a lot of businesses end up getting obsessed over the number of likes their Facebook page has.

    I’d wouldn’t say abandon Facebook totally, because if you use it the way it should be – as a means to engage your followers – then it should still work nicely.

  62. Great post, I completely agree, Facebook is not and should never be your primary place of business, no social media or third party platform should be anything but an extension to your place of business. To do so would be just foolish.

    Over the last few months I have distanced myself from Facebook quite a bit, I now go days without posting anything. It can be because I am busy but also I no longer see it as powerful as it once was for us.

  63. I don’t believe it is ever possible to “drive” traffic anywhere online, and I really don’t believe it is possible to “drive”traffic from a social media site.

    I think in order to get traffic to your site, you need to invite people there. And you need to invite them there on an individual basis. Every person who visits your site is an individual and what you are writing or posting or making a video about must be appealing to a person, not to a group of people en masse.

    That’s one of the things about the internet and computes in general; they don’t do mass amounts of anything, and they are incredibly inefficient. Every single thing that takes place in a computing environment is done one thing at a time. Where a computer does shine, however, is doing each of those individual task very quickly, so it appears as though the actions are taking place simultaneously.

    In bringing people to our sites, the real issue is that each person is a person, an individual, and deserves to be treated that way. If we want more traffic to our sites, we need to invite more individuals. Social media is a good place to post these kinds of invitations, but the truth is each of those sites is self contained and is trying to keep their visitors on their own sites, not send them to yours.

    Trying to get people from a social media site to our own is trying to overcome the efforts made by those sites to keep their pages sticky. It takes some doing, and it takes a plan of invitation, not driving.

    • What it takes is content, and trust me, content “drives” a ton of traffic back to this site. But I also think you can view it as an invitation — it’s an invitation to click through and enjoy some educational value at no charge. That’s the kind of invitation that drives traffic. ;)

      • I know it is just me that doesn’t particularly like the word “drive”, that it’s a common phrase and I used to use it a lot. But I don’t so much anymore. I do view the writing on Copyblogger as invitational, and I believe a lot of traffic comes here. Not too surprising, this is one of my favorite sites online and I have learned a lot from reading here. And I am very grateful for what you guys share. :-)

  64. Great post. I try to constantly remind clients that Facebook is leasing their business space on the busiest social media highway. It’s impossible for every customer to make it into your store but if they do, YOU MUST get their email or push them to your home (website). It’s best to take advantage of the free loading Facebook has given to us and stop worrying about things we can’t control.

  65. Great post and something any marketer worth their salt should know. Never give up control, but most definitely use all these platforms to build relationships and syndicate you content. Abandoning Facebook would be foolish, just be certain to utilize it wisely. Watch for Facebook making a pivot – they have done it before and they will do it again – it’s in their DNA and they can’t risk staying still and becoming old/boring/irrelevant. Also watch Facebook to successfully launch an AdSense competitor and more importantly a search engine that leverages their proprietary data and insights into the social graph.

  66. Certainly an interesting post, and stimulating comments, too.

    Separate subject: May I ask why there’s no date-stamp on Copyblogger posts?

  67. I couldn’t agree more Sonia. I’ve actually seen there are many huge sites that never ever control their Twitter accounts with personal admin. In fact, their Twitter accounts don’t follow anyone and are solely used as the tool to update the recent posts of their blogs/websites, nothing more.

    I’ve also had a bad experience using service to “Like” your Facebook page in the past, like say “1000 likes for $5″ and it was not really worth it. Really. And the worst thing, the Facebook page of my site was then penalized by Facebook for using that kind of service. We just need to be careful with that.

  68. Let’s not leave out Linkedin.

    As a freelancer, Linkedin has been a much better source for finding customers than Facebook and Twitter combined.

    Thanks for the great info on FB. Need to think about adjusting my overall strategy.

  69. I actually think that Facebook paid advertising/promotion can be a very useful and robust tool. Because Facebook has collected so much information about its users, there is opportunity to target your audience very, very strategically and pointedly. And that’s worth money, in my opinion.

    • I never imagined that Facebook would fall this way. Individual users can continue using it without problems but companies should start using Google Plus. It is my view.

      Greetings!

  70. Each social network is to use, and will aquedar facebook as a network to maintain contact with family and friends. This was coming. They keep making changes … this is to go crazy;-)

  71. I use facebook for personal use mainly. I was burned by facebook because for some reason it thinks my website is a spam site, and of course I can get no one to tell me why or what I can do to get facebook to stop blocking it. I’ve pretty much stopped trying to fix it and just focus on my web content and other social networking sites like google +

  72. Finally! Somebody who gets it. I have felt like I’m at the mercy of Facebook for marketing my online business. I teach people how to write their business plan so they can start their business. Nobody goes to FB for that. But I’m told by all the IM gurus and wannabe’s I can’t succeed without social networking. But Facebook is a total waste of time. I am shutting down FB page and moving on to more productive marketing!

  73. Sonia — you offer some terrific advice in the last two paragraphs of your post . . . . “spend more of your time building YOUR asset (i.e. creating content for your site) and use Facebook to drive traffic to your content.”

    People are putting their business at risk if they become reliant on “one” platform that they do not own. If the platform disappears so will their business. Take control of your business and build an asset that you own. And then use other platforms to drive traffic to your site. This will allow you to build an asset that you control and it will allow you to generate traffic from multiple sources. Now you are thinking strategically — you are building a real business that has lasting value.

  74. Food for thought. I quit Facebook myself last week and now manage my pages through my cat’s account (facepalm — I know). Your article has made me rethink my obsession with Facebook pages. I have never measured the return (financial) on investment (my time) of Facebook but I suspect it turns out not worth the effort.

  75. Your message only gets to 16% of your friends’ walls. less than that for brand pages. if you keep promoting the same website they get a sticky warning that you’re website might be spam. Facebook is a place to look up for sex and fun, business doesn’t belong there.

  76. really great post.

    the biggest takeaway ist that your homebase always should be fully under your control.

    where can i find the follow-up post? would love to read it.