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Is Facebook Dead for Businesses?

The author of this article, Carl Thompson, is the co-founder of Contento. Previously co-founder and CMO of TradeGecko, founder of Momentum Marketing and a few other companies in between. 

Carl_Contento
Over the past five years, content marketing has exploded thanks to easy promotion channels like Twitter and Facebook. Businesses could quickly knock out 500ish words, publish it on their own website or blog, and promote it across their social channels. Decent reach was easy to get, and engagement was good As marketers, we got addicted. However, over the years Facebook has evolved, and what worked then, does not work now.
In this article,  we look at what's changed and how can we, as marketers and businesses, get a positive ROI on social?
First of all, you need to understand is the life cycle of tech adoption.
With any new technology, there are always risks and uncertainties. The ones who jump on new tech are called 'innovators'. These 'innovators' are the ones that understand supply-demand economics and are continually looking to test new opportunities. They are willing to accept the risks of new tech in search for better ROI.
Is facebook dead, tech adoption graph
As social proof becomes apparent; more businesses jump onboard. 'Early Adopters' start testing the waters. These early adopters generally have a small, agile team that have resource and trial new opportunities quickly.
More and more businesses adopt the new platform; people start talking about the great ROI they are getting, and it's not long before the 'Late Majority' start flooding the system. These are larger, slower, organizations and corporates, that don't want to be left behind. Test campaigns, usually spear-headed by agencies, take place with promotional budgets more significant than the annual social spend of the average SME, yay...
The market is now flooded. Businesses have ramped up content production, and the fight for reach is pushed to breaking point.
There are now over five million businesses that are advertising on Facebook each month, according to Reuters. The platform is now at the mature stage. Corporates are spending millions of dollars on promotion which is hiking the price of reach. As the price goes up and reach goes down, so too does your ROI.

So is facebook for business dead?

It's not dead entirely but if you want a positive ROI, then you have to change your strategy to better align with the changing Facebook landscape.
What's changed?
There is now so much content that Facebook has a massive problem trying to deliver the most relevant posts to each user. So much so that last year Mark announced a 0% organic reach for Business Page posts. Facebook is now entirely pay-to-play for businesses. Which also renders page followers next to irrelevant. Spend is going up; reach is going down. SMEs are now competing against huge corporate social budgets.
Sharing is one user behaviour that has changed dramatically. No longer are people sharing via article share buttons. Broadcast sharing is dead. Research from various sources reveals that dark sharing (private sharing via chat apps email etc) are now making up somewhere between 70-85% of content sharing.
So how can you re-align your content and social strategies for this new content world?

  • Create meaningful high-quality content based on your unique value proposition. You need to stand out in this over-populated world of content. What makes you different? What can you add that's different to anyone else? What does your niche want to read? The more effort you put into creating meaningful high-quality content, the better your engagement will be.
  • Go niche. Create content for a specific niche and spend time and some money promoting it to that niche. Don't pay for broad content promotion. Aim for quality, not quantity.
  • Encourage dark sharing. People are sharing URLs via email and messenger apps. Gone are the days when we post articles to our Facebook walls. Broadcast posting is next to dead. Share via email and messenger buttons will likely get used more than generic social share buttons.
  • Look at content promotion outside of Facebook. Guest posting and garnering inbound links are still a major factor when it comes to search engine ranking. Getting your articles onto media sites and blogs is imperative to better SEO. This part of inbound marketing has always been incredibly frustrating for marketers. Cold email outreach is soul destroying work. However, there is a better way to do guest posting. Contento allows you to offer your content to a network of reputable publishers. It removes the whole out-reach process. Every marketer's dream! Try it out.
  • LinkedIn. Despite being around for years, LinkedIn has not been as well adopted as Facebook. But more and more people are regularly engaging on content in LInkedIn. It's no longer an outreach tool for salespeople or recruiters, and it's not oversaturated with content, yet. If you're B2B, then you might find your ROI better here than on Facebook.
  • Quora is another platform worth testing. Being an active Quora participant can drive traffic to your website. It seems that users on Quora are a bit more techie, but despite your industry, you should be able to garner high-quality leads from this network.

Facebook is in its mature stage of life, which means reach is only going to get more competitive and more expensive. It's basic supply/demand economics.
Re-align your content and social strategy to the current rules and behaviours. No business should rely on one channel for sales. You should regularly be testing new strategies across different platforms. Test, learn, iterate, repeat.
Stay one step ahead of your competitors. What tools and platforms are they not using? That is where you'll most likely find the best ROI.
Carl Thompson CEO - Co-Founder - Avid Digital Marketer, Contento