Should Brands and Publishers Consider Walking Away from Facebook?
I’ve been debating this topic with my colleagues for quite some time now, and while at first the thought of leaving behind the social media mammoth that is Facebook seemed like a crazy idea, I‘ve come to the realization that it’s time for brands and publishers to ditch the platform. Here’s why.
Renting vs owning
If you’re using Facebook as a major marketing and Social Media tool for your brand or site, the harsh reality is that you‘re really just renting the space from Mark Zuckerberg. You own nothing. Your brand’s Facebook page is subjected to constant design and algorithm changes, some of which have resulted in organic reach dropping to an all time low.
Ultimately you have no control over the space, and it could even be argued that you are actually just helping Facebook get bigger while growing your own brand’s presence.
One of the biggest problems with brands and publishers using Facebook is that they don’t own any of the user data. Sure, Facebook allows you to view insights into some of this data, but ultimately the real value sits with Facebook.
As a publisher selling inventory to advertisers or a brand selling products to users, it is critical that you have as much data about your users at your disposal. This means knowing their location, age, occupation, and what they had for breakfast yesterday. Facebook uses this data to sell targeted advertising on the platform, which no doubt played a big role in the company raking in $2.91 billion in revenue in the second quarter of this year.
This is why it’s better for brands and publishers to build their own platforms or micro-sites, which will allow brands to own the data. This data gives brands valuable insights into their users, while also opening up customized targeted advertising to publishers.
The last point I want to touch on is engagement. This may be a contentious one as engagement is likely to differ from brand to brand, but what we have seen is trend that users coming to our site from Facebook engage less than users that are visiting the site directly or via Search Engines.
Facebook users tend to spend less time on the site, view fewer pages per visit, and are generally less likely to comment or engage on the site. Majority of Facebook users prefer to remain on the Social Media platform where they can comment, like and share the content amongst their friends.
Don’t leave yet
At the end of the day the reality is that Facebook does not need your brand to be successful. They’ve got 1.3 Billion active users on the platform and show no sign of letting up. I believe there is still some value in Facebook for brands and publishers, and that value lies in directing users from Facebook onto your own platforms.
There are other factors to consider as well, such as revenue earned from Facebook page, which is usually minimal. It’s clear that the marketing ‘free ride’ has come to an end, and that Facebook wants brands to view the platform as a ‘paid for’ marketing channel now.
Brands and publishers need to shift their thinking when it comes to Facebook, and should start looking at building and growing their own platforms.
This article was written by Ashraf Stakala and published in MemeBurn. Ashraf is Digital Project Manager at Soccer Laduma, Africa’s biggest sport publication.
Memeburn focuses on web and innovation technologies. It has a particular interest in startup news and technology trends in emerging markets.