Throttle this: Facebook, for business, is dead

facebook_logoDo not, under any line of reasoning that you can conjure for yourself, talk yourself out of doing what I’m about to tell you to do: don’t spend another dollar of your marketing budget, however big or small it is, on Facebook.

Because Facebook, as a business growth platform, is dead.

As a doornail. Cremated, in the urn. Buried in the backyard.

The company, now beholden to its shareholders, who demand profits, as all shareholders do, has effectively killed the goose that promised to lay its golden egg with its new throttling program that makes it so that far, far fewer people that you paid Facebook to advertise your page and grow your like base actually see anything that you post.

Case in point: the now just-about-worthless Facebook page that I manage for one of my businesses, Top Rope Pro Wrestling. Money was invested over the past three years to build the fan base for the wrestling company to more than 130,000 fans – we’re talking close to $16,000 all told spent to get us there.

At its height, a typical post on the page would be get upwards of 20,000 views. Those were the salad days; we’ve had to get creative with our posting strategies lately – basically stripping out photos and videos to go with a bare-bones story headline and link – just to crank out 3,500 or so views on our most-read posts.

Before we went bare-bones, we had posts viewed by fewer than 700 people – about 2-3 percent of what we used to get.

I won’t argue that Facebook has the right to do what it thinks it needs to do to make money; I get that, because I’m in business, too. I’d argue that Facebook made its first few billion dollars selling business owners like me on the notion that pumping money into likes-based campaigns would pay off because we could then broadcast our messages to our growing likes bases for free.

We’re all familiar with the concept of bait-and-switch, and that’s what Facebook has pulled on us now that they’re charging us to reach people that we paid to get access to in the first place.

Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me. So, alarmed at my declining numbers on my wrestling Facebook page, I tried a few boost posts to test out how effective that approach could be vis-à-vis the strategy of going with the bare-bones posts that I described above.

Spending money still underperformed the bare-bones posts, and woefully underperformed compared to where we were a year ago, two years ago and three years ago.

I could tinker with this some more, or I could do other things with my time and money, things that I know will work, like Google AdWords, furthering the development of my email marketing strategies, and more traditional forms of advertising like TV, radio and print.

They may not be as cost-effective on a CPM basis as Facebook was pre-throttling, but they’re much more effective compared to Facebook post-throttling, and that’s Facebook’s problem, not mine, not yours, not that of anybody else in business and marketing.

Facebook has officially jumped the shark. It’s only a matter of time before it faces the same fate that MySpace (remember MySpace?) met a few years ago when it got too big for its britches and got stared down by an upstart founded by a Harvard dropout.

The Next Big Thing in Social Media is no doubt being developed by the next Mark Zuckerberg as we muse on the pending downfall of Zuckerberg’s creation.

Whoever you are, if you happen to Google this one night during a coding break, please, if anything that I write here is to be a takeaway, let it be this: don’t believe the hype, because it will come, when you get up there, to the top of the mountain.

Just remember, unlike Zuckerberg, how you got there: a lot of people paying a few hundred dollars here and a few thousand dollars there because they like what you have to offer and think it can help them.

Which is to say, it ain’t about you.

– Column by Chris Graham

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