Going through my Flipbook this morning I saw a lot of noise about the future of Facebook. An article by Mashable today says that 34% of Facebook users spend less time on the site. It also says that only 1 in 5 people surveyed have ever been influenced by an ad on the site.
The survey and other articles, like the one predicting that Facebook will disappear by 2020 much the way Yahoo has become a non-player in the social world, raises questions for marketers. How much time should you spend on Facebook for your business? Are ad campaigns effective? How can mobile and Facebook work for you?
Let me start by saying that speculation of Facebooks imminent collapse are bullsh*t. A lot of what we are seeing are Wall Street driven anxiety over the short term profitability and overvaluation of Facebook. Ever since it went public with an IPO everyone wants to know where the money is. But let me make a clear distinction here: the profits of Facebook have very little to do with its viability as a marketing and community building tool for business.
The strength of Facebook lies in its ability to connect people. If you are a business looking for a quick fix to do the same old world advertising that worked in Don Draper’s day well let me be the first to wake you up from that pipe dream. You should be using Facebook to find, understand and connect with your audience. After you do that you will be in a better position to provide them value and maybe make a sale. With the network about to break a billion users you have 1/6 of the world’s population at your fingertips. If you can’t learn something from that and engage them in some kind of dialogue then you may want to rethink your approach to customer relationship building.
As for the strength of Facebook as an ad platform, I still think it is one of the strongest and most dynamic places to attract first impressions. The ad targeting gives you a segmentation control you rarely find elsewhere. The social tools are quick and easy for anyone liking or sharing or engaging with your ad to use giving you the added benefit of ready social proof. The key to successful Facebook advertising is having a great ad (picture, copy and tagline) but even more important a killer destination for your link. Don’t waste the opportunity of a Facebook ad on bringing someone to your business homepage. Send them to a landing page or custom Facebook page with a clear path what the ad prompts them to do. These are basic principles of good web advertising.
At the end of the day I think Facebook is alive and well and deserves your attention as a marketer. Are there other grounds to explore? Absolutely. You should always be looking for new tools to add to your arsenal, but don’t ignore the basic components just because a few financial alarmists are crying wolf. The key to a Facebooks success, and that of any business in the next ten years, will be doing mobile right.