Before content marketing, Facebook marketing was all the rage. In my consulting business, I couldn’t have one meeting without discussing how my clients could better leverage Facebook for their marketing. I counseled most of those clients to invest in their own content rather than their Facebook page. Now I take that as badge of honor because honestly, Facebook is dead.
The Facebook Pay To Play (Why Facebook Is Dead)
For many years, even a moderately active Facebook Page could garner a few hundred views and a handful of likes on each of their posts. Now, users must pay big money to get the same kinds of results. As this post in the New York Times clearly outlines, the same Facebook posts that once provided great traction has been slowed to a crawl unless the publisher shells out a full $7 – per post!
The crazy thing here is that you now have to pay just to distribute your post to people who already like your page. Say what?
Spending that kind of money isn’t exactly a winning marketing strategy, even for a moderately sized business. But what is the alternative to Facebook? Now that the Facebook gold rush is over, what is a marketer to do?
Spoke, Meet The Hub
Facebook is dead, but that doesn’t necessarily make it irrelevant. We simply need to put Facebook back where it belongs. The big problem we created a few years ago is that we started to treat Facebook like a marketing platform in and of itself, rather than a channel for distribution.
We gave Facebook too much credit, and we invested too much of our time and energy into Facebook alone. Now, those who invested the most don’t have a lot to show for their hard work other than a slowly dying Facebook page.
In the future, we would all be better served if we started to see our own content as the hub for our online marketing, and Facebook as a distribution channel. If our content is the hub, then Facebook is the spoke. Unfortunately, for too long we have been treating it like the hub.
As I’ve always tried to explain to my clients, Facebook is a great way to distribute the content that you are creating on your own website, but probably not the best place to be investing your marketing capital. Facebook is a channel, and channels change, so you don’t want to find yourself with a huge emphasis on a channel that suddenly stops providing a return on investment.
When clients would ask me about Facebook contests, I would talk to them about blogging. I would tell them to invest in their hub, and allow Facebook to do what it does best – distribute that investment to the masses (or, at least a shrinking portion of them).
Content. Content. Content.
Facebook is dead, but content marketing is alive and well. By documenting, creating, and distributing our best ideas through content, we make a marketing investment in a long term strategy. The difference between using a blog to distribute valuable content and running a contest on Facebook is huge. One provides a short-term spike (at best) while the other provides a long-term flow of new viewers and new customers.
The best Facebook posts in the world only last a few days. Content will last a lifetime. The benefits prove themselves.
Simply put, content creation pays bigger dividends than Facebook over the long term. While contests can bring an (exhilarating) rush of traffic and activity, they often lead to a very low long-term customer engagement. On the opposite side of the spectrum, high-value content that lives on your hub may actually end up having more engagement over the long term. Often, the posts that drive the most traffic on my blog tend to be more than one year old.
I certainly believe that for some brands, the value of Facebook still remains. Local retail brands and restaurants can do well, but even for them the long-term value is diminishing. These groups need to find ways to invest in their own hub if they want to stay totally connected with their online audience. If nothing else, they should be pushing as many users as possible to their own email lists, and building their own distribution channel.
Facebook as the marketing platform is dead. Facebook as the distribution channel is still alive, but waning. The smart marketer uses distribution channels to their advantage, but never as their sole means for success.