An estimated 67 percent of American adults use Facebook today. That makes the social media giant on the surface the best channel for small business owners to connect with their clients, customers and partners.
But there are reasons to rethink Facebook engagement. Those reasons include signs some users are getting tired of the site.
The social network is completing a new redesign intended to reignite the spark with its audience. However, it could be too little too late.
Re-evaluating Facebook Engagement
Small business owners need to be concerned about “Facebook fatigue” too. It means that the audience they are trying to reach may be vacating the site, rendering marketers’ efforts fruitless.
Below are four reasons you may want to reconsider the value of your Facebook engagement:
Facebook remains the largest social network with users in the U.S. However, data indicates that may not always be the case. A study released last month by the Pew Research Center says 20 percent of online adults have quit the site. The study also shows only eight percent of online adults who don’t yet use Facebook have any intention of doing so in the future.
This suggests that not only has Facebook been loosing members, but that the site may have limited room for growth.
Meanwhile, competing social networks continue to expand their audiences. A separate survey shows Pinterest may soon overtake Twitter as the second leading social media site with American users after Facebook.
Small business owners must decide which social networks are the best investment of their time and utilize them in order reach their unique audiences.
2. Lack of Engagement
The Pew research study also revealed another concern with the popular social network. That problem involves Facebook engagement. The issue should definitely be of concern to any small business owner investing time or money in reaching followers on Facebook. The study found 61 percent of Facebook’s audience has voluntarily taken a break from the network for several weeks or more at one point.
In the official overview for the report, researchers Lee Rainie, Aaron Smith, and Maeve Duggan wrote:
The largest group (21%) said that their “Facebook vacation” was a result of being too busy with other demands or not having time to spend on the site. Others pointed toward a general lack of interest in the site itself (10% mentioned this in one way or another), an absence of compelling content (10%), excessive gossip or “drama” from their friends (9%), or concerns that they were spending too much time on the site and needed to take a break (8%).
This means that when you attempt to engage your audience on Facebook, you can never be sure how many of them may be active.
Bigger is not always better when it comes to small business marketing. In his post “Winning the Social Media Overwhelm Race,” small business consultant Jeff Korhan suggests Facebook, with its huge user base and high volume of messages, may dilute a business’s signal, making the site less useful when communicating to customers.
Many businesses are discovering that Facebook isn’t working for them, so they are focusing their efforts on LinkedIn, Pinterest, or Google+…It’s better to have a robust presence on Pinterest than a mediocre one across the board on the more “popular” networks.
Beyond the inability to reach customers with your message over the din, Korhan says another problem with diluting your marketing efforts on a large, popular site like Facebook is that the effort will deplete your resources and morale while giving you little return on your investment of time and money.
Instead, Korhan suggests never assuming that Facebook engagement or even social media in general is absolutely the right channel to reach customers.
Carefully consider where you can invest your limited marketing resources for the most effective return.
Facebook Photo via Shutterstock
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Shawn, thanks for the update. People have told me they’re tired of Facebook, but until now there was no data. Please keep us informed. A shift may be happening in the B to B market.
What you say about carefully considering where you can invest your limited marketing resources for the most effective return is spot on. One size does not fit all! 🙂
Small business owners need to be concerned about “Facebook fatigue” too.
Great post, Shawn. I don’t get much engagement on Facebook, although most of my traffic currently comes from them. I personally prefer Twitter to FB. Much easier and simpler.
Teepu Cedi Camba
What do you think about Google+? Do you have positive insights of it as the next big thing?
Engagement on Facebook has definitely declined. This is especially true when Facebook changed to the timeline format and they intentionally made it difficult for status updates to get noticed, UNLESS you promoted the post.
When a client has 8K+ likes and their posts are only reaching 3K of those likes, that’s ridiculously low.
Plus, as you stated above, there’s so much going on these days and engagement is just lower than normal. You have to be really on top of your game to get a like or comment. But, you can say that about pretty much any social media platform. Facebook has just made it a lot more difficult than others.
Great article. Thanks for the stats that verify what I’ve personally been experiencing. “Facebook fatigue” pretty much sums it up, and the lack of engagement is frustrating to biz owners who are making strong efforts on the platform. As a B2B small-business marketing consultant, I’ve even grown weary about recommending my clients to invest time in Facebook for their marketing.
The “decline and death of Facebook” has been predicted almost since the site started; we see articles like this on a pretty regular basis. As with any marketing tactic, you need to carefully gauge how you spread your budget around, and focus on where the fishing’s good for your specific product. We’ve had TREMENDOUS results with Facebook, starting with some small-budget highly-targeted campaigns last fall; through Christmas and around Valentine’s Day, we saw ROI that was off-the-charts dramatic for our small company — especially when compared to ROI for Google AdWords and a few other tactics. Monolithic thinking is never wise in marketing; testing and tweaking is the smartest way to go in my experience.
That said, you can’t boil the ocean and allocate limited budget funds to every tactic you can imagine! You have to find what works best for YOUR unique company and situation. Facebook has been working wonderfully for our product — and we’ve spent frugally and wisely to validate our assumptions. (Regardless, if you’re going to use social media for your business, it’s smart to take a real-live-human approach, because if you try to “sell” you’ll likely fail.)
100% agree… What It’s Like To Quit Facebook: Severe Withdrawal Followed By A More Amazing Life
Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/what-its-like-to-quit-facebook-severe-withdrawl-followed-by-a-more-amazing-life-2013-3#ixzz2O6UpRsvI
As a former Web developer, I hate Facebook! Whether people use it or not is up to them, but to me, its just noise. What is it called now, a “wall”? Its just “stuff” all over the place, highly disorganized. Everyone from CNN to politicians seam to be compelled to be a part of it in a sort of “not to be left out” attitude. You could make the same argument for Twitter. Having said that, I agree with Laura above, in the end, its all about ROI. Done wrong, its worthless, done right, it could help.
I do think that the recent timeline changes and the revised cover image policy are making a difference for business pages. I have noticed an increase in “Likes” and engagement over the past 2 weeks.
Definitely some good points raised here. I think Facebook still has plenty of mileage for business owners IF it’s where your audience are, and IF you’re prepared to invest time and money into building and engaging your audience. That said,it’s always important to do what you can to move your core followers off facebook and into your own email list (for example through contests, and offering great value outside of facebook, but using facebook as the first meeting point).
Great article and some very compelling thoughts here Shawn. Facebook is NOT going anywhere, anytime soon. It is simply responding and trying to be proactive with consumer needs, wants and trends. The companies that show an ability to sustain a longevity are always changing and responding. I love Facebook and will continue to grow my presence there but I am shifting more time and energy into LinkedIn and G+. Twitter is a core media for me since the beginning.
This is an interesting article against marketing on facebook. It does seem that regardless of the actual engagement on the site that you must at least have a presence there.
Why not just have a professional website for your business setup? It just seems cheap and tacky to jump on an already existing platform that every other business is also on. Why does every one have to have the big blue Facebook sign on top of all their pages. What’s it got to do with them?
Shawn: The challenge for Facebook is to balance Mark Zuckerberg’s initial idea of a social network without any “intruding” elements, e.g., ads, and today’s version of everything from sponsored status updates and company “likes” that are shared on your wall. Personally, I will continue to use Facebook, but in my personalized way, for example spreading my Instagram photos.
That’s why I never made a facebook fan page for my blog. I did use to have my blog coming to my facebook account. That was not a good move either as most of my people on my account are friends and family and not my target audience which I found out quickly. I do see people always trying to promote on facebook. I just think you need to be somewhere where you have an audience. Facebook didn’t work for me.
I have one fan page that has over 21,000 likes. Whenever I post something on the page, only a thousand of them really respond. Although it brings some traffic, it does not really convert. Facebook doesn’t work on all niches. This is also true to other social networking sites like Pinterest, Twitter and Google+. Some blogs/small business are better off without having a social profile.
I only recently discovered how critical the size and type of your business is to having success on Facebook. If you are a one man/woman operation with very few small suppliers dealing in a “me too” environment, its very difficult to be heard. But if you have suppliers or partners with a large number of LIKEs its easy to tap into these. Coupled with this, if regular events are part of your business, content creation practically takes care of itself, with clients supplying photographs of the fun they had in the process. Simply put Facebook can work better for some businesses than others.
Shawn – First, thanks for the mention. You give a realistic picture here of how things are. If more businesses saw Facebook and other sights with fresh eyes they would likely learn how to better focus their efforts to get results.
Great post, Shawn. I don’t get much engagement on Facebook, although most of my traffic currently comes from them. I personally prefer Twitter to FB. Much easier and simpler