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Facebook Advertising Is Bad Business

Facebook would love you to think it is still a social network. And they would also love you to believe that they have their finger on the pulse of your potential customer. The lie is, Facebook is no longer a social network. Facebook is an advertising and marketing platform to billions of consumers globally. While this is good for your business prospects, the real proposition is expensive and not very effective at delivering qualified leads for your business. Let me explain. And then let me give you some alternative Facebook models to think about, next time you want to reach out and “friend” that potential business client.

The first problem with Facebook’s approach to encouraging me to advertise on Facebook starts at the beginning of our contact. Here, while I’m browsing Facebook, they are telling me they have three different ideas about how their marketing/advertising platform could be good for my business. The issue is that all three of these “ads” for Facebook marketing services point to the same page/offer/start a promotion campaign page within the Facebook Ad Manager system.

At first blush, you might think/feel, “Wow, Facebook really gets me and my business. And since all of my ‘friends’ are on Facebook, maybe I should spend a few dollars to reach out to them with my business/service offer.” Again, it’s a lie. Promoting my page on Facebook is a waste of money. Clicking on each of the three links above, I ended up canceling the “promotion” that Facebook was offering to build for me.

To be clear: I am not saying advertising on Facebook is always a bad idea. I’m saying, Facebook’s suggestions on how to advertise on Facebook will often waste a lot of your money and generate very meager ROI. There is a better way.

And of course, for each of these aborted “campaigns,” Facebook is compelled to remind me to finish my website ad. [Um… Nope.]

Facebook Does Not Want You to Use Facebook

If Facebook were still a social network, they would give us more than 2% of our “friends” news stories. If Facebook were still a social network, we would not have to pay a $5 boost to get our information/news out to 80% of our friends. Facebook wants us to pay for reaching out friends. That’s not social, that’s paid reach and marketing to our designated friends and family members. Hey Facebook, if you’re listening, that’s fucked. That’s not how social media works. And you’ve killed Facebook as a social platform.

And Facebook doesn’t care what its users think. In fact, Facebook experiments all the time with how to shape our news feeds to sell more ads. Everything on Facebook is designed to keep you on Facebook longer, to deliver you more Facebook minutes online and Facebook ads. Facebook is setting you up as a consumer of Facebook ads. That’s not how it’s supposed to be. And that’s why Facebook has a huge problem these days with the next generation of consumers.

My kids, in high school, will never have Facebook accounts. And while they have Instagram accounts (owned by Facebook) they don’t really use those very much either. My kids and their friends use Snapchat. And Facebook is a place where their parents and other old folks go online. Why would your kids ever want to do social media where you do social networking? The real answer is, they won’t, they don’t, and they won’t ever, join Facebook

But my generation, I’m a baby boomer, and each generation after mine (Gen X, Millenials, Gen Z) has been joining Facebook as a routine. Facebook IS social media for most of us. Facebook is where we connect/connected online. Facebook is where we keep up with friends, share family pictures, and update each other with emotional details of our private lives.

Why in the world would my kids want to see what I’m Facebooking about?

Growing Reach and Influence on Facebook

So, what is an advertiser to do with all the opportunities to touch a huge user base on Facebook? Are Facebook’s special demographics and targeted ads good for consumer advertising or business-to-business advertising? Could a business use Facebook to grow its business? And will a business have to buy Facebook Ads to generate good quality leads?

You do not need to buy ads on Facebook in order to use Facebook as a marketing platform. Facebook doesn’t want you to know this. And Facebook has put a few tools in place to make it more difficult to use Facebook as a social media participant rather than a business.

Here’s my example from the real world of digital marketing.

I have a new client. HYPERLeaders, and executive coaching and leadership firm. And, last week, HyperLeaders needed a Facebook presence. (Facebook presence = Facebook business page.)

Facebook is very happy that I’ve set up a Facebook business page. And Facebook’s marketing team is ready for me to build Facebook ads to bring in new customers. What Facebook is not prepared for me to do is use Facebook to build a network and not pay them to help. Facebook does not want me to grow my business “contacts” on Facebook. In fact, if I spend too much time trying to build up this page for HYPERLeaders, if I invite too many of my “friends” to LIKE my own business page, then Facebook will hit me with a “social networking speeding ticket.”

How is inviting my “friends” to LIKE my client’s Facebook business page a violation of any “feature” of Facebook? It’s not. It’s a violation of Facebook’s effort to monetize Facebook. Here’s what the “invite your friends” page looks like.

This is only one of the reasons Facebook for Business is *BS*.

John McElhenney — let’s connect online
@jmacofearth & Facebook & LinkedIn & The Whole Parent

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