Facebook on the decline

It seems to me that it is set in stone: eConsultancy says it and even the Metro confirms it, the end of facebook has started. And it is welcome news indeed and it should have come much sooner. I can't wait for the time I don't have to read the blatant lies and white washing that is all to prominent in the marketing industry's media.

Digital publications

I have always disliked, but somehow, maybe because I enjoy being cynical, still read the articles in the online marketing press and blogs. Or maybe I was indeed looking for a change in this crappy platform for customer engagement and relatinship management; looking for the recipe of how to make it work, but I never found it..

One of such publications, the latest issue of Figaro Digital, arrived at my desk not too long ago and it was full of facebook junk. I understand that it is a buzz at the moment and that it represents, thanks to limiting API access to selected agencies, a gold mine for digital agencies that found themselves in need for clients as more and more SMBs would take their search marketing in house. Yes, agencies understand how to peddle dung! Three or more pages full of people that claim to understand social media and how to manage it with little columns of half-wisdom, but then: Martin B. With his outrageous claim: "It isn't outside the realm of possibility to suggest that one day facebook will be the internet."

Sure, it isn't outside the realm of possibility, it isn't outside the realm of possibility to suggest that one day man will be born with wings on their back we are all flying and and humankind is enslaved by man-bear-pigs, but you still have to be an imbecil to realistically sugget such a future vision.
But Figaro printing crap is no news to me. In a former role I was working alongside a Marketing Director who wrote the article 'Standing on the Shoulders of PPC Giants'. While this wasn't an agency, it was written to encourge SMBs to join the marketplace and forget doing their own PPC. Of course, joining a marketplace is not a bad idea and this marketplace doing SEM for your products is a great way for both parties to sell products, but this obviously shouldn't deter SMBs from doing their own search engine marketing. It is easy and effective!
Sadly it isn't just Figaro that sells out their good name. eConsultancy has it's fair share of guest blogger that promote their own ideas and flog their own agenda. It is just too tempting to get other people to do your work for you free of charge. Their reputation won't suffer as much, users are well aware that they are reading opinions and advertorials on their site.

The selling data game

The other thing that is shocking to see is how much anonomous data facebook sells. Well, when I say sells, they make these regbporting APIs available to their selected agencies only. These then sell the facebook advertising on to their clients. Agency and facebook are winning. The client however is left with a feeling of tapping into new audiences, wondering if they found a cheap way of building brand awareness. Having been in a meeting the other week with an agency that actually makes this data available, I think a lot of facebook users would think twice about using the site altogether.

Facebook knows this and with all likelihood hopes that their users stay unaware of this for some time to come.
Paying for likes
Yes, most companies tried facebook advertising. Either direct or through an agency. Your direct response / acquisition campaign was in all likelyhood unsuccessful and when you indeed tried it through an agency you would have received the suggestion to instead of getting traffic through to your site, you should acquire fans for your brand and use facebook as a tool to communicate with these people.

Beware, something went majorly wrong here! Instead of getting cold hard marketing leads that are measurable in terms of ROI from your advertising budget, you are trading it for - mmm - a bunch of extra people that you have to manage a relationship with on a platform that is difficult to control.

Today I was looking at an agency's report on how one of our campaigns is performing. New in this report: facebook doesn't allow the tracking of fans anymore, so we now measure the cost-per-like... £1.90.
I think it will take the next generation of martketers to figure out how you turn 'likes' into money.

The slow demise

It will take a long time and lots of 'internal restructuring' till facebook is really out of the marketing world and the majority of people currently working for it will be laid off or have moved on, but it is the beginning. As an advertising platform, it never performed and always seemed like a waste of time and effort. Yes, there are other opportunities for facebook to monetise. Selling their users data, one way or another, in bright daylight or the sneaky way.

As for the private investors, I believe they will get the big money when facebook floats. But take a good hard look at facebook and decide if you want to put your money in the concept of people "liking" things, by clicking on something out of pure boredom.

Not all is bad

No, facebook is a useful tool! It is ideal for viral marketing, managing reputation or making announcements. However, you do want to keep the majority of this communication in and on your own domain, simoly because you own and control it.
All these activities should be free and I believe they currently are. I believe facebook won't be earning money on these now or in the future.

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