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Facebook – Currently Broken for Business

Just (via a Facebook feed) picked up an article via Debbie Mayo-Smith, entitled “FaceBook’s Dirty little secret – It’s broken for business”

Facebook-BThis is from a datamation article in the US following an extensive technical study around the way Facebook updates and distributes users news items. i.e. When you share some news to your loyal followers. (read more).

The issue is quite a technical one, but has major implications for those using Facebook to send out news to their readers and fans. It appears it’s not working, around 90% of the time. Broken may not be the right word, since it implies a software bug, when it’s really about how Facebook structures their system. But figures like this start to put Facebook, as a channel, in the same league as email for the delivery of messages. i.e. Under 20% are read.

But as mentioned in other article on this site, it’s never wise to put all your eggs in one basket. Cross-channel starts to make sense.

Facebook?  It’s no free ride for Business

If what the article implies is true, the fix involves giving Facebook your credit card number for paid advertising. As the article says “… Facebook lets you build massive lists of "fans" or "followers," but won’t let you communicate with them unless you pay.”

In itself, i don’t see an issue in this, since any form of business marketing has to have a cost. There are many services worldwide that are free to consumers, but if they’re being used for commercial gain, then you have to pay. Google sort of does this with its search. Organic is a ‘free’ service although still takes considerable work to get you up on page one. Instant results come via their AdWords ‘pay per click’ ads. Facebook is essentially now doing the same thing. We just didn’t realise it. In fact when we look at how many consumer and business services started out on the net, the Facebook  move should come as no surprise. Starts off free, then you pay.

However it would have been nice for businesses to have been kept in the loop a bit more on these changes – Told what was really happening. There are ‘workarounds’ of course, which smart companies will use, although much relies upon making communications more interactive (which isn’t a bad idea, but is costly), or having users change their security settings. The free ride is now over.

However the other argument made is that Facebook is just filtering out those 90% who are not interacting with you on a regular basis and not worth communicating with. This may be fine and even logical for personal communications where many who ‘like’ you, are but temporary acquaintances.

But as anyone knows in business, the business sales cycle can be long. Often a year or more before they’re ready to buy. Regular communication is vital. This Facebook strategy could be disruptive and force businesses to look to other channels again like email or even direct mail, which don’t have these nasty filters in place. It’s a stark reminder to us all never to put all your marketing eggs, in one basket.

It could be the beginning of the end for Facebook as a business marketing tool. Quite sad really. Facebook had such promise for home and small business users. Now it will become another marketing channel only there for those that can afford it.

STOPPRESS: August 5th. Seems Facebook is changing its mind and turning back some of its filtering, under pressure from Advertisers. But will this start to turn many people off to Facebook, as it becomes more commercialised and filled with promotional Ads? Getting the right balance will be the trick.  Checkout the changes here

Discussion

One comment for “Facebook – Currently Broken for Business”

  1. Another case of greed and profit driving the business direction. Should we expect any different? Facebook is a big business after all.

    Posted by Brian | June 28, 2011, 3:04 pm

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