The Party’s over..

…and only Facebook took the prom queen home..

I’ve watched this avalanche coming. Time and time again I have implored clients and friends to see what’s coming, and few, very few are going to be ready for what is about to hit. They have had some idea, but it’s about to get worse. Like the second day after the first day back at gym, it’s about to get real.

Since the heady days of Facebook in 2008, social media has become the mast to which many businesses have pinned their hopes. And why not? Billions of people , who they can contact now by posting a status update? And hey if it’s really cool, it will go “VIRAL”, and I will get billions of business. I have a billion likes!! Reminds me of the days of “hits” on my website.

Guess what. That party is over.

Much of it has to do with a basic understanding of Facebook that people either don’t know about, or simply gloss over in the hope of a silver bullet for their marketing troubles. #sixdayabs

So, here it is, organic, paleo and gluten-free..

  • Facebook is an advertising behemoth. Your details, the stuff you gave them allows you to be targeted by ads.
  • Facebook has gone public, and they need to sell more ads (remember this point)
  • As Facebook has grown, they rolled out Pages for business. These “brand outposts” let you build a community of people who want to hear from you, who *gasp* like you.
  • ITBOD (In the bad old days) you could post and virtually all the people who liked your page would see the update. (This is organic reach – how many people see your content based on them actually joining your page).

And we all rejoiced! A free platform that enabled us to speak to our fans, as simple as pushing update

Well it’s over, and the writing has been on the wall for a while.

As Facebook’s platform has grown bigger, more brands have been vying for the attention of the users, this has caused overcrowding in the news feed, and to combat this Facebook made an algorithm. This means that only certain posts get shown in the user news feed, and if your post doesn’t tick the boxes, it may as well be that tree that fell in the woods…but don’t worry Facebook has a plan. They will let you pay to reach your fans. This is a promoted post.

At the same time, your organic reach has dropped down to about 2% – 5% in some cases. So in order to reach “your” fans, you need to pay to play.

Don’t cry foul. It was coming a long time ago. The end game has always been an advertising machine.

If you don’t pay Facebook, you ain’t gonna play.

You don’t have to be in the network to use the network, and to always, always extract some form of asset. As Steve said, don’t build on rented land. And that’s what 100’s of thousands of brands have done.

Facebook is no longer the panacea for your business ills. It’s become like every other media channel, reach and frequency. It has it’s place in a digital strategy mix if its cost can be justified.

The great thing is, in our industry, people who have taken the time to understand the game, have always known that social is just one aspect of digital marketing. Others have made it a religion, always prescribing it to clients, even if it’s a useless idea. A Facebook page for Burglar Bars? Really?

And this is where some agencies have done their clients a disservice, prescribing something that in reality only makes them money, and is not the best for the client long term. Even worse, some clients are paying to play the Facebook game, and agencies are taking up to 80% of the media spend in their back pockets, and keeping the likes ticking over so they can continually show growth…(“just enough so the client see’s some growth ok”)

Ever heard of “turnover is vanity, profit is reality”? Likes, Hits are all vanity metrics, they have no representation on the business. You are a restaurant, an agricultural business, a call centre. What the hell does a like mean to the bottom line?

Every business needs to find the digital channels that perform the best, and then put money into those. Test, and back the winners.

If your Facebook page costs you 50K per month, and you reach on average 200 people, that’s R250 per person.

If you sent an email to 500 people for 10K, and they opened it, that’s R20 per person.

What makes business sense?

That’s part of what makes me so worked up. Agencies which take the media budget and hoard it to improve their own margins, are actually preventing a business from making an educated choice, and because it may remove what has become the crutch for many agencies who are one trick social media ponies.

Agencies that have taken the time to learn, and develop their market offering will survive this, and those Facebook queens, and the traditional agencies who added “digital” so they could add a revenue line, but didn’t understand it at all, will start to find more and more difficult as it becomes clear to business owners everywhere, that the Facebook party is over…

If you are business owner you should do the following:

  • Work out a key metric that means something to your business
  • Get your OWN Facebook Advertising account, and grant your agency access. That way you will see the costs, and be able to have full transparency.
  • Work out a Cost Per Something Metric, and measure all your channels accordingly.

If you are a brand, and need help with this, email me mark at

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