Facebook Rehab: Recovering from Addiction

Facebook Rehab: Recovering from Addiction

This is an intervention. Please sit down. I'm here because I love you and I want to see you healthy.

You have to come to a realization, one you've been avoiding for a while now.

Facebook really isn't the same platform it was a year ago.

For years, social media managers and online marketers have been fighting tooth-and-nail to find success on Facebook. The platform offered us offering free marketing - the ability to communicate with our target market and promote brand awareness, products and campaigns to the Nth degree, without putting a single cent down on the table.

Is it really so surprising that Facebook decided they wanted to cash in on this little shindig they were running?

So they dropped organic reach (from somewhere around 16% to somewhere around 5%). That means that, for every 1000 Fans your business had on Facebook, about 160 of them were seeing your content this time last year. Now? It's more like 30-35.

Accepting that this has happened is the first step to recovery, and this article will guide you through the grieving process, from Denial, to Anger, Bargaining, Doubt and, finally Acceptance.

Let's get moving, because you poor people have hit rock bottom.

Denial

You refuse to believe that, if you just put a little more effort (c'mon man, just one more hit of the good stuff?), you could still find the Facebook success you used to bank on.

You spend hours reading the newest best-practice articles and testing and tweaking your posts, grasping at loophole straws and crawling along on your hands and knees looking for that last little nugget of organic reach. I swear it was here a second ago. I just had it!

You can't admit to yourself that things between you and Facebook aren't the same as they used to be.

It's not so bad, is it? I mean, I had a quote the other week...

Facebook's Organic Reach

(Source: http://edgerankchecker.com/blog/tag/organic-reach/)

Okay, I see the graph, but you didn't let me finish. I had a post just last month that had...

Facebook Organic Reach

(Source: http://johnmuldoon.ie/2014/03/facebook-zero-organic-reach-on-facebook)

Additional ReadingThe Facebook Hack That Will 10x Your Reach

Okay, okay, I see your point. Stop shoving graphs at me.

Anger

So you're telling me those money-hungry so-and-sos in Menlo Park just get to destroy our organic reach and there's nothing we can do?

Okay, I understand you're frustrated, but here's the thing:

That organic reach was never yours. Facebook was giving it to you as a gift.

For years you posted stuff like Home Depot has below, and thought nothing of it:

This is an ad. I know it might not look like it, but that's because we're all looking at it through our Facebook user glasses (and they are rose-tinted to scarlet).

This is a promotional piece of content, equipped with an eye-catching and romanticized image, a hook in the form of a question, and a Call-to-Action ("get your backyard ready..."). And Facebook has allowed Home Depot (and your business) to, completely free of charge, show this ad to their audience more than 2 million strong (or, more accurately, 100,000, as organic reach is about 5%).

Did we ever stop for a second and think to ourselves, "Wow, Facebook is giving us a pretty fantastic deal here?"

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No, we didn't. We just ran with it as fast as we could in one direction, and when Facebook decided to put their hand out and say "can you hold on for a sec while we reconsider this whole thing?" we slapped them in the face with articles like "Facebook Zero: Considering Life After the Demise of Facebook".

I'm not saying you don't have a right to be frustrated. I'm saying you don't have a right to feel like something has been taken from you unfairly. This thing they gave us was a gift, and we got a lot out of it for a long time. But the free trial has lapsed, people.

Bargaining

Aw, c'mon, it can't be that bad! What if I worked a bit harder? What if I put in a few more hours? There are new best practices that can increase your organic reach, right?

  • Maybe if I focus on having an SEO-friendly blog title and another, catchy and short title for social media, more people will engage with your content on the platform.
  • Maybe if I put time and energy into creating an awesome thumbnail image that performs well in the Facebook algorithm and grabs the eye of a user.
  • Maybe if I focus on questions, quotes and controversy - eliciting opinions and answers from your users, comments that increase your post's virality and raise it from being seen by 5% of your fans to 7%.
  • Maybe if I find a loophole (like the one that came out a few weeks ago) where any post that generates the word "Congratulations" from a fan will be seen more widely than a post that doesn't.

Sure, these will help. But, like the patch to a smoker, they won't satisfy.

Doubt

I can't trust Facebook anymore. There's too many changes, coming too fast, for a busy person like me. I don't know where they're going to hit me next and I'm reeling from the body blows.

Y'know what? Screw it. I'll delete my page and use the platform only for personally stalking my exes and enviously looking at my brother's trip to Zihuatanejo. I'll put my time and energy into Google+, LinkedIn, Twitter and Pinterest instead.

Okay, but hold on for a sec. Even if you did devote all your time to those other platforms, you'd still just (just!) be reaching the amount of users Facebook has (like 1.31 billion to 1.28, depending on your source).

Not only that, but Facebook users are on the platform more any other (23% of Facebook users, in fact, log in more than five times per day).

So go if you like, but know that you probably shouldn't. The platform still has a ton of value if you're open to seeing it.

Acceptance

You okay? Take a deep breath. We're going to be fine, trust me.

We'll get you the help you need.

That help is going to come in the form of the most sophisticated, reasonably-priced and far-reaching ad platform the world has ever seen.

Coming to terms with the fact that Facebook is no longer giving you a free-ride you can take to the bank is the first step toward finding new success on the platform, success you can find through ads.

Facebook Ads give you access to something organic reach never did: people who aren't your Fans.

Stop thinking about Facebook as a social media platform, and start thinking of it as an ad platform instead. You'll sleep better and that weird tic in your left eye will go away.

Why Facebook Ads are a Legitimate and Workable Alternative

  • They have the cheapest CPM available, anywhere: The average cost per thousand views (or impressions) for a Google Ad is $2.25. Facebook is well beneath a dollar. TV is about $7, radio is $8 and newspaper ads are $32. That means more ad impressions, more brand awareness, for less.
  • They have the most specific targeting capabilities available, anywhere: Facebook has teamed up with some of the creepiest data mining companies that keep you awake at night, enabling advertisers to target their ads exclusively at...
    • Mothers with 0-3 year olds
    • People making between 50,000 and 70,000 dollars a year
    • People who voted liberal in the last US election
    • People who have been engaged for between 3 and 6 months
    • Animal welfare donors
    • Casino vacationers
    • Even (yes this is true) people who have bought a Suzuki motorcycle within the past six months
    • And everything in between

In fact, Facebook allows you to target users based on 83 different makes and models of automobile (as well as eight different age categories and six different price segments).

Terrifying? Perhaps. Incredibly effective for advertisers? Absolutely.

Why else?

  • They enable advertisers to reach people they've never seen before: Through lookalike audience and website custom audience targeting, brands can promote content to people who have either engaged with their business' home page (but not converted) or people who are incredibly similar to existing customers. This is (essentially) retargeting without the 3rd party software, content curation and lead gen without paying for access to a lead list.

In short, Facebook Ads aren't a replacement for the organic reach of your Posts. There is no replacement for what you lost in the past 12 months - and I seriously doubt it's coming back.

Instead, Facebook Ads are a different creature entirely - a powerful creature full of lead generation capabilities, brand awareness and retargeting opportunities.

Just don't get addicted.

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James Scherer is content manager for the Wishpond Blog. Wishpond offers a free website popup builder, enabling your business to create list-building and promotional tools of all kinds. Connect with James on Twitter.