Shuffling the Deck Chairs on the Facebook Titanic

by Ryon Harms on April 23, 2014

After reading Jay Baer’s recent post, 4 Ways To Fix Your Facebook Problem, I asked myself, ‘Do I even want to fix my Facebook problem?’ But before we get into my answer, let’s briefly rehash The Problem: Facebook has effectively killed organic reach for big brands. Organic reach is dead because, understandably, Facebook needs to keep evolving ad units to generate revenue growth for shareholders. It’s their fiduciary obligation to do so.

But as a social media professional, I also have a fiduciary obligation to my employer or client. In 2010, when I started as the social media director at a large brand, I honestly felt like Facebook offered a unique space where my company, with the right approach, could build a valuable community of customers and prospects. Back in those days a discussion had broken out about the dollar value of a Facebook Like. Now that Facebook has suffocated organic reach for brand Pages, I think the answer is quite obvious: a Facebook Like is worthless.

I’m not going to predict the demise of Facebook, because, frankly, those guys are a lot smarter than I am. But as they swing the pendulum away from a network built on social capital to a network built on market capital, I now find myself feeling like a fish out of water. I didn’t get into social media because I wanted to manage an ad budget. I got into social media because I loved seeing how creativity and relationships could spark a groundswell. 

With that in mind, let’s explore Jay’s 4 ways to fix the Facebook problem:

  • Publish Things That Are Worthy of Attention – We’ve heard this one before a million times, but I think the argument can be made that it’s now a near obsolete goal on Facebook. Brands have struggled with engaging content for years. Little by little they’ve gotten better at it. But to keep up with Facebook’s plummeting organic reach, we’re talking about a 10X improvement. Day in and day out, it’s just not realistic that brands can make that kind of evolutionary leap, not even under the leadership of savvy social media folks like Jay.
  • Pay to Play - No comment. I’ll let my colleagues in media buying judge this one.
  • Get employees or customers to carry more of your messages on Facebook – Here is where I’m putting my money. I know first hand that Facebook works at the local, individual level. Facebook is still a great tool for activating a massive distributed sales force, or a large, engaged employee base.
  • Start building communities elsewhere - Are we destined to be marketing gypsies jumping from network to network, waiting the inevitable community tax? If so, I think we need to get back to our social media roots – community building through creative, but inexpensive methods. Why invest millions of dollars into a network if you know that it will eventually start offering diminishing returns.

I was a guest on the Marketing Monday Chat (#MMchat) this week when I tweeted, “If all the Facebook brand Pages disappeared tomorrow, would anybody (besides social pros) care? Probably Not.” It was the most favorited and retweeted post of the night. 

It’s still not too late for Facebook to un-MySpace themselves. As we’ve seen, they’re willing to upend the user experience at any given time. Until then though, should we be turning to experts like Jay to give us tips and tricks to improve our organic reach, or are we just shuffling the deck chairs on the Facebook Titanic?


Get Over It, Your Brand Will Never Be Human

April 18, 2014

What does it mean to be human? I asked myself that question again after reading Jason Fall’s recent blog post, An Apology to Brands on Behalf of Social Media Experts Everywhere. His post brings up a very good point, which is, can a brand actually be human? And equally important, can social media help a […]

Read the full article →

Sourcing Internally for Social Media Talent

April 9, 2014

Recruiting for social media positions gave me a great sense of job security. Especially as I sifted through hundreds of resumes on a mission to fill the six positions I ultimately used to build my internal social media team at a major heritage brand in Los Angeles. When I set out to create my team, […]

Read the full article →

How I Built an Internal Social Media Team (Part 2)

April 3, 2014

Read Part 1 first Creating the right internal social media team begins with the natural strengths of your organization. Ideally, a structural advantage you have over your competitors. In my case, I was within an organization that had a massive distributed network of local agents. Creating a program for these agents became my first order […]

Read the full article →

How I Built an Internal Social Media Team (Part 1)

April 2, 2014

Something about creating alone appeals to me. It feels good to be praised for work that I know came directly from my own blood, sweat and tears. It’s how I felt after my first year as the Director of Social Media for a big, well-known brand. On day one, I was the only person within […]

Read the full article →

What’s Next: Social Game Marketing

December 20, 2010

I was asked to write a book proposal on social game marketing. I ultimately had to turn down the offer, but I thought you might get something out of  what I started to write for the proposal below. Does somebody you love waste every spare moment on FarmVille? Your loved one isn’t playing alone. More […]

Read the full article →

Adventures @ Blog World 2010: A Social Media Odyssey (#bwe10)

October 18, 2010

Adventures @ Blog World 2010: A Social Media Odyssey (#bwe10)

Read the full article →

200+ People to Meet & Follow at Blog World Expo 2010 (#bwe10)

October 11, 2010

I originally developed this list as a personal resource, but after creating it I realized that this might actually be beneficial for all Blog World Expo 2010 attendees as well. Let me know if there’s anybody else that you think I should add.

Read the full article →

60+ Links to Help You Achieve Measurable Results with Social Media

September 7, 2010

Executives require a list of key performance indicators (KPI) that show at a glance whether or not a social media campaign is on the road to success. The bad news is that measuring results with social media metrics isn’t a science quite yet (some might disagree). The good news is that there are some very […]

Read the full article →

100 Best Damn Career Mavens on Twitter (Revisited)

August 30, 2010

Just over a year ago, I wrote a post highlighting 100 must-follow career mavens on Twitter. Since then I’ve continued to curate that list, adding new promising voices and focusing in on those that dedicate their tweets to the career advancement of others. The result, I’m excited to say, is what I believe to be […]

Read the full article →