Businesses appear to be abandoning Facebook en masse, as the scandal-plagued social network also sees the impact of its decision to restrict the visibility of unpaid business posts.
“A lot of people move to LinkedIn, because the results are a lot better. [So] I’m seeing a big shift from Facebook, but there is still some value in Facebook,” Adam Franklin, digital marketing speaker and marketing manager at Bluewire Media, told My Business.
“I don’t think the Cambridge Analytica scandal did them any favours, and I don’t think changing the algorithm to reduce the visibility of business pages was very friendly to businesses, and the fact they are also putting up the price of advertising to even reach your own followers doesn’t make it easy for business owners on Facebook.”
Mr Franklin also referred to digital publisher Little Things, which went out of business in March, as demonstrating the severe impact the Facebook algorithm change can and has had on businesses.
“It was an online publication that amassed 12 million followers, but it was entirely dependent on Facebook and when Facebook changed the algorithm, they couldn’t communicate with their customers and so they went out of business,” he said.
However, Mr Franklin suggested that Facebook’s own actions have likely just accelerated a process that would have occurred regardless because of the different reach available.
“Because it’s more of a professional platform, people are more comfortable talking about their business and putting business-related content on [LinkedIn],” he said.
“It’s getting huge reach – for example, I had about 3,000 contacts on LinkedIn at one point, and the videos I was posted were reaching 12[,000] or 13,000 people, so three to four times the people in my immediate network. Whereas if you compare that to say Facebook, you might have 1,000 business followers, but an organic post may only reach 2 or 3 per cent of those people.”
“LinkedIn may change, but at the moment it’s providing tremendous reach and it’s organic and it’s proving really popular, so I’m seeing a lot of people moving over to LinkedIn.”
A My Business poll currently underway is asking business owners whether they plan to continue using Facebook as a marketing tool, and the results so far appear to back Mr Franklin’s comments.
At the time of writing on 23 April, 40 per cent of respondents admitted they have or will abandon Facebook, while the same proportion said they will continue to use the platform. The remaining 20 per cent were undecided.
Add your vote to the poll here – the final results will be reported once the poll closes in early May.
My Business has also spoken with a number of business leaders and consumers alike who have already, or are planning to, remove their Facebook profiles due to concerns about privacy.
A spokesperson for Facebook’s Australian PR arm referred to a Q and A session with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg earlier this month, in which someone asked whether the network had seen a change in users and advertising revenue as a result of the #deletefacebook campaign that emerged following the global privacy scandal.
In it, Mr Zuckerberg denied there had been any meaningful backlash, but admitted to difficulties in actually being able to measure this had it occurred.
“I don’t think there has been any meaningful impact we’ve observed. But, look, it’s not good,” Mr Zuckerberg replied.
“I don’t want anyone to be unhappy with our services or what we do as a company. So, even if we can’t really measure a change and the usage of a product, or the business or anything like that, it still speaks to people feeling like this is a massive breach of trust and that we have a lot of work to do to repair that.”
Not all marketers think that the algorithm change will have a devastating impact on SMEs.
Earlier this month, Phoebe Wright of WhiteSpace Marketing argued that it was “business as usual” for most Facebook users despite the well-publicised change.
“The changes are not going to ruin businesses despite some saying it is going to be harder,” Ms Wright said.
“For most businesses, who don’t have enormous fan bases to start with, they always had to invest in paid advertising to get reach.
“The changes just reinforce the fact you have to pay to promote your business; the scare mongering is moot because nothing has changed from a business perspective.”