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Brand – Facebook Marriage: Time to Part Ways

If you are a social media professional and managing few brand pages on Facebook, I am sure you would be facing tough time these days with the continuous drop in ‘engaged users’, ‘talking about this’ figures. By now, all reasons and excuses would have exhausted explaining to clients.  Do not worry, you aren’t the only one facing this problem. All this is because of the Facebook’s aim towards providing better consumer experience (at the cost of brand’s investments). Sufficient hue and cry has been raised by industry experts. A research points out that Facebook brand pages have on an average suffered 44% decline in engagement rates. Few online product experts have highlighted how Facebook is collapsing fast and it is high time that they fix themselves in order to become relevant.

The only explanation that Facebook has given is that on a given day, Facebook could show approximately 1,500 stories to a user. As this is a high number, Facebook is doing a ‘social service’ by changing its algorithm in a way that, they decide what I should see. Wow! Isn’t it incredible on part of Facebook to decide what I should see based on my so-called past browsing behaviour on Facebook?

Now, let’s understand how this incredible algorithm tweak is hurting brands. As a brand that has established page on Facebook needs substantial community size, a brand manager / owner would always desire that community gets built in an organic manner. However, we have seen that brand managers / owners do indulge in fan acquisition rat race. So, Facebook earns while all brand managers are busy acquiring fans. Assume you start from zero fans and spend on an average Rs. 5 to acquire a fan, amounting to Rs.500 for 100 fans. Let’s hold for a moment here and understand that brand has spent money with the intention to build community and interact with them. On the other side, community has OPTED to ‘like’ the page and join the community to receive content. So, its a win-win situation for both.

Courtesy: The Keep Calm-O-Matic

Courtesy: The Keep Calm-O-Matic

But, then starts the real game-play by Facebook. As Facebook, claims itself to be user-oriented, somehow they have decided that the content you post on your page would then be visible only to 2-3 people of your 100 fans. Isn’t it a b******t? Here is bait that Facebook offers you in the name of ‘Boost Post’. Once as you have spent money and gathered audience, obviously you would think to make something out of them. In the process, if you would like to increase the reach from 2-3 to say at least 30-40, you need to again pay Facebook.

This is what is beyond explanation to me. If I opt for a room at a hotel, I should get the basic amenities like a towel, toilet soap, an AC, room service etc. The hotel can’t be charging additional money for each and every basic amenity.

As a social network if one is so bothered about user experience, then they should stick with the objective of building user base. I would consider this as a cheap tactic on part of Facebook that they build a user base, attract brands to advertise with them and then make a mockery of their efforts, time and money.

I feel it is high time that brand managers quickly realize this factor and move to other social networks, where at least the network doesn’t penalize brand’s efforts with the banner of ‘providing better user experience’ in hand. Also, some of you would argue that they are the largest social network and how could a brand afford to shun them. Well, the call has to be taken by the brand managers if they want to continuously be trapped in the algorithm change-game of Facebook or try and test other platforms like Google Plus, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Instagram or for that matter mobile apps like WeChat, Line.

I only believe that just because you have the largest network, you can’t be autocratic. Well, if Google starts tomorrow to monetize even the organic search results and asks charges to list even in top 50, would you pay? The debate here is about the democracy in information and knowledge-centric ecosystem.

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