Blog Post

Forrester Says Facebook Isn’t Where Brands Should Engage


Facebook and other large social media platforms have received a lot of hype over the last few years and many people haven’t refrained from sharing their insights and approval about utilizing Facebook for business (especially since the number of active Facebook users is a staggering 1.35 billion and there are over 30 million business pages on Facebook). Contrary to this very popular opinion, a report from Forrester Research was recently released warning brands against expecting too much from Facebook. Watch this Daily Brown Bag to learn why Forrester and their VP & Principal Analyst, Nate Elliott, believe it’s time for brands to jump ship and seek out other places for social and outreach that are a more reasonable return on investment other than Facebook and Twitter.

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TRANSCRIPTION:

Hello and welcome to the Daily Brown Bag. Today we're talking about Facebook and whether your brand can survive Facebook's recent changes. I'm Chad Hill and I'm joined by Adam Stetzer.

Hey, good afternoon, Chad. Welcome to the Brown Bag. Now, we've been covering social and Facebook in particular in quite a few of our Brown Bags, talking about how small businesses can use this for outreach. Certainly, it's understandable, there are 1.35 billion active users, just a staggering number, Chad, and over 30 million business pages on Facebook, so there's this huge audience and everybody's wanted a piece of that. It's been growing for years. It's been up and coming. But today, things really were shook up by Forrester Research when they said and they came out with a statement that's pretty bold. They said, "It is a waste of time and resources for marketers to spend so much time on Facebook." And this is a pretty different position than we've heard from a lot of things we've covered, Chad. Specifically, Forrester released a paper called Social Relationship Strategies that Work. This is a report that they put out. Their VP and Principal Analyst, Nate Elliott, has been quite vocal about warning brands against expecting too much from Facebook, which is counterculture to all the hype we've been hearing about them for years.

He's saying specifically that Facebook has been making it more and more difficult for your Facebook posts to get through organically. And I know, Chad, as we talked to our SEO reseller community; we're hearing that of course. He's also saying these platforms really just don't deliver the business value that most small businesses are seeking. Facebook is encouraging more business to buy advertising. So a lot of analysts had called for that, we'd been predicting that, too. But he's taking the bold statement and Forrester is saying now, its come time to jump ship, for brands to start to look at other places other than Twitter and Facebook, which have been the two big sources of social. And they really need to start to consider smaller social networks to build relationships for their customers, specifically recommending that businesses should start to add features that build community right on their own websites and not rely so much on these social media platforms. They're also recommending looking at smaller platforms that haven't gotten to the astronomic profit motives that Twitter and Facebook have, user platforms such as Instagram and Pinterest. So this is really bold news coming out, Chad, today. And it sounds like Elliott here in Forrester Research is saying, well, Facebook might be going away at some point. It just isn't the big dog we thought it was.

Yeah. In fact, I found one of the interesting quotes he said is that basically, "Facebook will become nothing but a repository for display ads." That's definitely some pretty bold statements and predictions.

Ogilvy actually came out and had a study that they also put out earlier this year and that said that basically organic reach for Facebook is destined for zero, because we have seen people who have invested a lot of time in building up their following on Facebook just not getting that reach. And we've talked about this many times. Part of that since there's been a tremendous growth in number of people and competition for that limited shelf space on someone's Facebook feed, and then the other part of it is of course a profit motive by Facebook. They need to make money.

So just a couple of stats here that we've got that basically shows that the average engagement for a top earner on Facebook is 0.073%, on Twitter it's 0.035%. So gosh, like these are just really hard numbers for someone seeking a reasonable return on investment to get really excited about, because this is just really, really low engagement.

DigiDay of course just a little bit of a contrarian view. They came out recently and basically said that they actually beg to differ, and they think that Facebook still is a good place for brands to participate and try to build community. They quoted a study, a Socialbakers study that indicated that brands can still reach about 25% of their followers, and that in fact in some cases like celebrity pages may reach up to 54% of fans, whereas news media in some cases 58%. So there's still plenty of reach and opportunities out there. I think really what it comes down to is being smarter about how you use Facebook. You need to think about and hear a couple of tips that we have.

Definitely don't abandon your offers, but I think this really comes down to being a little bit more... to curating what information you decide to share, it shouldn't just be a steady stream of content. You need to think about the audience. You need to use some of the tools that are now there that still are relatively inexpensive to go out and promote a post. It's not that much money and they give you a lot of flexibility for targeting it to the right audience, and you can even segment your current fan base into different groups. So there's a lot of flexibility there.

Again, it just comes back to knowing your audience, and this is a great part of an overall promotion strategy. We talked about email. Facebook is clearly there, Twitter is but you can't really invest everything in one area. You need to think about how to use Facebook as just one part of your digital marketing strategy. That's what we have, Adam.

Well, very interesting stuff, and I know a lot of the smaller businesses really struggle with Facebook. So they might hear this report and say, "Oh, I don't know. It certainly makes sense and why it isn't what it used to be." So good prescriptions there and maybe check out some smaller networks or look for your alternative investment elsewhere. So that's the coverage today. Thanks for coming to the Brown Bag, and we ask you to subscribe and we'll see you back here tomorrow.