Every few weeks, another doomsayer will pop up in the news announcing the imminent collapse of Facebook as a social platform. They’ll trumpet new user numbers from [insert competing platform here] and compare those to slowing percentage numbers from Facebook. They’ll cite Congressional investigations, the rise of Instagram influencers, and the #DeleteFacebook movement. They’ll compare Facebook’s stock price to the overall market, and proclaim that the collapse is soon to come.
They may be right. But then again, maybe not.
By the numbers
Facebook is the 300 lb. gorilla in the social media space. There are young people alive today who have never known the world without Facebook. In 2019, over 70% of American adults have a Facebook account. Worldwide, Facebook boasts over 2.45 billion (not a typo!) active users each month. 1.63 billion of those log onto Facebook on a daily basis, and on average spend 20 minutes browsing the platform. All of these numbers show continued growth over previous years.
Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, and Pinterest are all viable marketing platforms, if they fit your business’ needs and audience. But when the top two platforms combined (Pinterest and Instagram) don’t add up to Facebook’s user base, it becomes clear that Facebook is a marketing opportunity that your business can’t afford to pass up.
Pay to Play
If you’ve been using Facebook awhile, you may remember the days when you could reach your audience for free. Build a business page, get a few likes, and your content would spread through your audience’s network to drive impressive returns.
Unfortunately, those days are over, and have been for awhile. Facebook and the other social networks are now ad platforms for your business. Viewing social media in the same light as broadcast or print advertising will help you set realistic expectations. Social media isn’t free, but it has the potential to drive impressive, targeted results at a fraction of the cost of traditional advertising.
Reaching the right audience
Facebook gives advertisers tools to target users in ways never before possible. Advertisers can target viewers by typical demographics such as age, location, gender, education, and language. The real power comes when you dive deeper: hobbies, interests, employment status, relationships, and more. A skilled Facebook marketer can tune an audience profile to give you the best possible chance of reaching your target customer. Given that we know nearly 70% of them visit the platform at least monthly, and 74% of those use it daily, this is an impressive opportunity for only a few dollars a day.
What about Organic?
While we treat Facebook primarily as a paid advertising platform, organic posts are still important. (By organic, we mean the free posts that go on your business page.) These posts are visible to a percentage of your page fans, depending on the level of engagement those fans have with your page and other factors. They also stay on your page long-term, creating a timeline of your brand’s history and messaging.
Organic reach has declined steadily over the years. While it’s no longer a reliable way to consistently reach your fans, organic posts are still important to show “social proof”. When a new prospect is researching your business, one of the top 3 items to show up in search results is typically your Facebook page. When they visit that page, you want them to see a steady stream of quality content. An active page conveys life and vibrancy, while an empty page shows just the opposite.
New Opportunities for Personalized Connections
The internet is constantly evolving, and Facebook is no exception. As they grow, they continue to develop new innovations, many of which allow businesses and brands to create amazingly personalized experiences for their customers. You can reach broad audiences with posts and ads, while simultaneously creating one-on-one relationships using messenger bots. Analytics provide deep insights into the content your audience is engaging with, allowing the savvy marketer to learn what works and what doesn’t.
If you’re trying to use social media as a free way to connect with your audience, you’d be forgiven for getting frustrated. However, when you view social media as a paid advertising platform, the opportunities to create personalized experiences for a highly targeted audience - at a fraction of the cost of almost any other marketing tool - become too compelling to pass up.
Don’t listen to the naysayers. Facebook probably won’t be here forever, but for now it’s still the marketing opportunity your company can’t afford to ignore.