When it comes to marketing your business online, social media has been dominating the advertising landscape in our minds for awhile now. Many local business’ entire presence is contained on the Facebook platform, with no other real source of online marketing or customer service. Our news feeds are no longer filled mostly with the actions and reactions of our friends and family, but instead have given way to what feels like a poorly targeted ad algorithm. As more and more people leave Facebook, the social giant has made many changes to keep the site feeling interactive and busy.
Recently, we’re learning more and more about Facebook’s revenue streams and their penchant for gathering and selling data when they perhaps should not be. We’ve also seen a massive exodus of users from the platform over the past 1-2 years. Facebook is consistently upgrading their estimates of fake and duplicate accounts, with now over 10% of the user base confirmed to be fake.
Whenever a product is offered for free, we must begin to wonder what sort of processes will support the service financially? Most often, when something is offered to you for free use, YOU are the revenue stream. Facebook wants your business to be on their platform, because offering data and information about your company to other large corporations is Facebook’s business.
Now some might say if you’re making enough money to justify your expenses advertising somewhere that it’s a smart business decision! It’s pretty hard to argue with that isn’t it? Especially for small, locally focused businesses where capital is limited, cheaper effective advertising options are a requirement not a luxury. Some choices carry costs that are not just financial.
So let’s examine Facebook’s advertising effectiveness a little bit. To SilverServers, effective advertising/marketing is centered around making sure your audience is well targeted and catered to. Even within the scope of the services your business provides, there are usually well defined lines of audiences that respond well. Marketing the different services you offer requires different approaches to be successful.
Facebook provides a thorough and detailed way to target audience members that should be interested in your ad. The problem arises when we know that the audience is not entirely made up of real people. The many fake and bot profiles on Facebook still take actions around the site, as often they are made specifically to like a page or engage with an ad-spend to make it seem impactful. All of those actions are still cataloged and stored for when you are defining your audience later. This can create some feedback loops of fake accounts interacting with your marketing.
Let’s say 10 fake accounts were created and they all liked a page that is related to your audience. That entire process can be clandestine and separate from any actions you’ve taken, but Facebook now knows those profiles are interested in something related to you. When you create an audience for your services, it’s very possible that said audience will encompass those fake profiles. Now what happens if that process continues unabated? More fake profiles are possibly created to interact with your ad. Those new ones are now also permanently understood to be interested in your product.
Your next audience creation or alteration would now include more of these fakes. The process continues until your engagement levels drop and Facebook pushes you for more money to spend on ads. In our experience and in Facebook’s admission, fake accounts to build ad engagement are created daily. At what point is your business spending money to engage a wall of fake people? That’s just one part of the fun.
Do you know anyone who has more than 1 Facebook profile? Perhaps some of your friends or family have created a fresh profile to leave an old one behind. Maybe your friends like to have fun with accounts that hide their real information, allowing them to post freely on local groups for entertainment (morally sound or not!). Some of us even have profiles for our pets! Those profiles are building their own advertising engagement history. How many of these secondary/tertiary cloned accounts are now in your audiences? Too many.
If your business is able to make a great return through Facebook marketing, then by all means continue to do so. But move forward with this information in mind. It's looking like, without massive changes, that Facebook will soon cease to be the valuable marketing tool it once was. When that happens, where does all your content and authority go? SilverServers suggests using social media sparingly for targeted ad campaigns, but focus more of your time and marketing money on your website.
The dark truth is that cost-effective, accurate advertising has been a problem for Facebook for awhile, and their lack of action on the topic has kept us all sliding down the slippery slope of business peril. Another great side of Facebook’s advertising tools is the amount of information you receive on how your audience reacted to your boosted ad post. If that information is full of fake data, how well can you use it to actually make the next decision on your marketing to-do list? Google Analytics for example has long accepted that fake traffic is part of the puzzle and they provide many tools to clean out your stats for accuracy. Facebook so far does not. That’s a red flag for us!
At SilverServers, we still believe Facebook can be used as a secondary source of incoming referral traffic for your website. Create and host great content on your website, market that content on any platform that you find valuable, but do so with the drawbacks of social media in mind. Marketing your business through Facebook or other platforms alone could result in a lot of lost investment and no long term returns.
Your content, marketing dollars and focus are much better spent on something that will help you in the long term independently of any social media platform. Facebook is going through a very large upheaval and cultural shift at the moment. It’s time to examine whether its worth it to your business to give away your data and information for a chance to market to an unqualified, inaccurate audience.
If you need help getting your business online with an organic ranking website and marketing plan, SilverServers and our GrassRoots search engine optimization plan is here to help. We focus on small to medium local businesses and give your web presence a solid foundation for the future. Contact us today for help!