Facebook is getting more and more difficult to love as a marketer, especially Facebook SMB marketing. The opportunity is great:
• A fantastic forum that does not charge viewers
• A site that subscribers check multiple times per day
• Tools to analyze advertisement reach
• Tools to segment target audiences
Facebook ROI Problem
So what is the problem? Why is it so difficult to see an ROI on Facebook?
The problem stems from two critical periods in the Facebook chronology. The first was when Facebook failed to recognize the importance of the mobile platform to their subscribers. In the beginning, the vast majority of Facebook subscribers communicated with one another on their laptops and desktops. As their app became more useful, and smart phones more prevalent as a substitute for traditional computers in social media, a significant shift moved swiftly for Facebook. Unfortunately, Facebook either failed to recognize the shift or were preoccupied with their pending IPO. Advertisements that were paid by marketers simply were not seen on the mobile apps. This meant that advertisers were missing the majority of Facebook viewers.
The second problem for marketers happened right around the time of their IPO. Facebook changed their algorithm. It was difficult enough for marketers to get customers to “Like” their pages, but with the algorithmic change, very few subscribers would see corporate postings… even if they like the page. This was intentional on the part of Facebook so that marketers would be forced to pay to “Boost” their post. Boosting the post may be more viable for larger businesses that are trying to increase the recognition of their brand, but has proven to be a poor investment for local marketers and small businesses trying to achieve a positive ROI.
Impact to Facebook SMB Marketing
It is difficult as a marketing consultant to recommend Facebook SMB marketing to those small businesses trying to achieve verifiable ROI from postings. A small business usually has a small advertising budget and really need to see an immediate return from their advertising dollar. They do not have the ability to invest in the long term branding that Facebook advertising may still be a good investment toward. Google AdWords and Bing have analytics and history that help the marketer prove that their $200 advertising budget produced $350 worth of revenue.
The Facebook story may tell a better marketing tale with branding. A $10,000 investment on Facebook advertising can reach a huge population. A similar investment with Google may reach a much smaller audience and for a much shorter period of time. The time spent viewing the Facebook advertisement is likely much longer than that of the Google AdWords advertisement.
The problem now is in the marketers’ approach. Maybe Facebook should be considered a savvy alternative to mass media advertising on radio and television, rather than a poor alternative to digital marketing on search engines. Reframed, Facebook tells a much better story for the larger budgeted businesses… but lost is the SMB that was lost in radio and television long ago.