Is Facebook Anti-ROI for Brands?

Facebook is disconnected with brand objectives and is destroying our ability to show a positive ROI

by Nichole Kelly |
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Does anyone else feel like Facebook is making it really difficult for brands to be successful? Or do you feel like Facebook is on your side? Personally, I feel like Facebook has become disconnected from what brands are trying to achieve and they keep making it more difficult to be able to prove the ROI of having a Facebook presence. Why would brands invest big dollars into a platform that seems to constantly turn its nose up at their efforts? Further, how can we ever get the budgets we need to make additional investments if Facebook has an anti-ROI policy for brands?

Zuckerbag's Anti-ROI PolicyAt the end of the day brands are on Facebook for a reason. We want to drive fan engagement, sure. But ultimately it’s about driving a financial return to the organization. Every brand has an action that they want their fans to take, but it is becoming increasingly difficult to drive to the right call to action when Facebook keeps stripping away our ability to do it.

With the release of timeline there were some nice features for brands. We can now pin certain posts to the top of the page. That’s cool. And now we can even schedule posts. That’s cool too, but we were already able to do that through third party tools. Way to catch up, Facebook.

Facebook Removes Calls to Action

When timeline was released I was surprised there wasn’t more backlash at removing the ability to have a default landing tab. Default landing tabs helped brands tell first time visitors why they should like their page. Many brands also used their default landing tab to inform visitors about loyalty programs, special offers, and exclusive content. The only option you may have to accomplish this now is on the brands cover image. Too bad Facebook doesn’t want that, either. Their new terms and conditions explicitly say:

“Covers may not include:

i.    price or purchase information, such as ‘40% off’ or ‘Download it on socialmusic.com’;

ii.    contact information such as a website address, email, mailing address, or information that should go in your Page’s ‘About’ section;

iii.    references to Facebook features or actions, such as ‘Like’ or ‘Share’ or an arrow pointing from the cover photo to any of these features; or

iv.    calls to action, such as ‘Get it now’ or ‘Tell your friends.’”

This policy shows a complete disregard for the brands who are supporting Facebook’s revenue stream. I understand that there were some brands that did a poor job of building compelling offers and perhaps led to the creation of this policy, but there were far more who provided fans with value through their calls to action. But the intent is pretty clear.

Facebook Forces Brands to Use Tabs that 54% of Users Can’t See

Another challenge is that if you take the time to build a compelling offer or contest for your fans it must be deployed on a tab. That’s not too bad, right? Well unless your fans are like most of the world and access Facebook through a mobile device. Edison Research reported that 54% of Facebook users access the site through their mobile phone in The Social Habit. And we all know we can’t look at a brand page’s tabs if we are accessing through mobile.

It seems that Facebook wants you to pay for driving action on the platform through the use of ads, offers, and sponsored posts. Zuckerberg has been testing new revenue models, something that he was very protective of prior to the company’s IPO. But it seems that pressure from investors is pushing him to consider new alternatives. Interestingly enough, it doesn’t seem to have connected for him that brands need be able to show the ROI of Facebook before they invest big dollars, which is becoming more and more difficult for marketers to accomplish with these new policies and feature changes.

Facebook wants Revenue. Companies want ROI.

It’s the chicken and egg scenario. Facebook seems to want you to invest more to be able to demonstrate a higher return, and marketers are struggling to try and demonstrate the return on the investment they’ve already made. Who will win? Unfortunately, for now Facebook will likely win this battle. They have the audience and we need to capture the audience. Therefore, we are at their mercy. But Facebook should strongly consider how they treat the brands they rely on. There has been so much focus on making Facebook better for the average user, that it may be time to start focusing on making changes to help brands maximize their ROI.

Facebook is the big dog today, but Zuckerberg should be cautious. He remembers what he was able to do to MySpace which probably seemed like an impossible feat at the time. If a new network comes along that can capture their users with a better interface, cooler features and makes it easy for brands to achieve positive ROI for participating, they could very well be at risk. But we know that will take a couple of years, so for now, we will deal with your shortcomings while we try to engage our fans. But until Facebook figures out that conversions are the name of the game, we will continually sit in board rooms trying to justify your existence to executives who aren’t in it to be cool. They want to make money. So does Facebook. There has to be a happy medium somewhere that doesn’t revolve around an advertising model. That’s so 2000 and late Zuckerberg.

So let’s tell Facebook exactly what we need to be able to demonstrate a higher return on investment to our executive teams. This is your chance to share your ideas on how Facebook can become brand friendly. What features do you want for your brand pages? What metrics are you longing for? What changes have been made to your brand page that leave you saying WTF? What would you be willing to pay for?

Leave a comment and tell the Facebook team exactly what they need to do to start supporting the brands who pay their bills. 

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About the Author

Nichole Kelly

Nichole Kelly is the CEO of Social Media Explorer|SME Digital. She is also the author of How to Measure Social Media. Her team helps companies figure out where social media fits and then helps execute the recommended strategy across the “right” mix of social media channels. Do you want to rock the awesome with your digital marketing strategy? Contact Nichole