If your marketing focus is organic reach over paid advertising, but you don’t have the time for networking, and you can’t face video marketing I have a newsflash for you (and you’re not going to like it!):
Facebook Is Dead.
Not completely dead. It’s still a phenomenally powerful platform BUT (and it’s a big, fat, hairy but) Facebook is only effective if you have either native video content, or lots of time to network, or the budget for paid advertising.
You don’t need all three, but you need at least one. I’ve been growing increasingly frustrated by Facebook this year, until finally, I had enough:
“It’s not me,” I told the Facebook gods several months ago, “it’s quite definitely you. We’re breaking up. I’m leaving you for SEO…”
If you’re sitting there shaking your head and/or fists and asking, “But why?!” I will tell you. Here are five reasons you should be putting your focus on SEO rather than Facebook if you want to drive traffic to your site organically…
#1 Facebook Reach And Engagement Are In The Toilet
We saw the beginnings of it in 2016, and there were worries before that, but 2017 was the year Facebook got so big and so successful that it peaked, and organic reach and engagement promptly plummeted.
Both organic reach and engagement have hit an all-time low on Facebook this year. Which means it doesn’t matter how many Likes or Followers you have, if you’re not creating the kind of content Facebook want, and sharing it in the way they like, nobody is going to see it.
What do they want? Video.
How do they want you to share it? LIVE.
My engagement and reach on Facebook was better than ever at the start of the year when I launched my vlog, but as the year wore on I became increasingly time poor and had less and less time to record videos. And I certainly didn’t have time for Facebook Live. I could probably have made the time, but in all honesty I didn’t want to.
Not this year. It’s been a tough year.
And I’m not alone in this. Most entrepreneurs are incredibly time poor. And, also like me, they hate spending any of that precious time on anything that’s not going to bring them a great return on the investment.
The ROI on I was seeing on the platform was plummeting while the amount of time required was increasing. It wasn’t difficult to come to the conclusion it wasn’t worth it until I could spend the time doing what the Facebook gods wanted.
In the interim, Facebook is officially dead to me.
#2 You’ll Get More Organic Reach From Google
My content marketing in 2017 relied entirely on organic reach. Virtually no paid ads (I ran a GoogleAd campaign for a couple of weeks in February on a very low budget), no boosted posts.
Organic traffic was been the name of the game.
A recent review of my Google Analytics showed me that traffic to my site is fairly evenly split between Google Search and Social Media. SEO has a slight edge, driving 59% of traffic compared to social media’s 41%.
Yet SEO is doing a lot more for my traffic than any single social media platform; it’s the combination of my platforms (currently Facebook, Twitter and YouTube) that collectively generate as much traffic as SEO alone generates.
I’m going to repeat that, because it’s really difficult for some people to fathom…
Here’s the next thing you end to realise: the majority of the organic traffic I get from Facebook is due to networking. I get some traffic from my page and some from my groups, but the majority of it is from networking.
And networking takes a lot of time and mental bandwidth. Which is not good, when you’re a time-impoverished entrepreneur!
I’m not alone in this, one of my fab clients, Robyn Kyberd over at Optimise and Grow Online recently asked me about the organic reach, engagement and traffic we were getting from her own content marketing efforts on Facebook.
A quick look at her Google Analytics revealed she was also getting roughly half her traffic from social media, and a lot of that from Facebook. But like me, Robyn is active in groups on Facebook, and the majority of that traffic was coming from sharing her blog posts in those groups.
This is time-consuming.
That conversation with Robyn is actually what prompted this post, because it’s one I’ve had a few times with clients.
The question they inevitably ask is, ‘How can I improve my organic engagement and traffic from Facebook?’.
The answer is:
- Share your content in video form
- Use Facebook Live regularly
- Pay for ads
- Spend time networking
This is the answer. Unfortunately it’s an answer that pisses everyone off, including me!
At the moment, there simply aren’t other options. I’ve fine tuned the strategy we use on Facebook in The Divine Blogging Design to get the most possible engagement without any of these measures, and still, it’s currently crap compared to what it was a year ago, and compared to other sites.
Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube, the results I’ve seen on all these platforms has been steadily increasing with time as I improve the Divine Blogging strategy. Not Facebook. No.
The Facebook gods are currently being incredibly uncooperative to anyone without an abundance of either time or money.
I’m going to be reviewing Divine Blogging’s Facebook strategy over the Christmas/New Year break to see if I can improve on it without the need for that time or money, but I’m seriously considering changing the standard scheduling package (which currently includes Facebook and Twitter marketing as well as blog scheduling) to Instagram instead of Facebook.
When you consider that Instagram is owned by Facebook this is particularly bizarre, but there you are. My clients are seeing amazing results on Instagram, while Facebook is completely and utterly dead.
#3 You Don’t Have Time For This Shit
That’s not to say Facebook isn’t capable of driving traffic to your site. It is. But if you’re time-poor, hate video, and have a system that relies on automation rather than networking and personal interaction (which usually happens because you’re time-poor!), Facebook is not your friend at the moment.
I mentioned it briefly but here’s the full scoop. Earlier this year I stopped all my own social media marketing for one simple reason: I didn’t have time for it.
At the beginning of November that changed and I was able to give my attention to it once more. But having had a break from Facebook, and seen the results my clients were getting in the interim, I knew the situation hadn’t improved, but only degenerated.
You may have noticed TWCG has a shiny new Twitter account, started at the beginning of November, that I’ve been active on.
Facebook? Not so much.
The traffic I was going to gain from Facebook with the amount of time I had to dedicate to it simply wasn’t worth it. Not when I was so swamped with client work that I was already working late nights and over the weekend.
There literally weren’t enough hours in the day for time-consuming social media marketing efforts, and with such a low ROI even the quick and easy ones for Facebook were beyond my limited availability for most of this year.
In addition to my lack of time, the time off was due to burnout where Social Media was concerned.
I’ve been busier than ever this year, and at one point Facebook was seriously draining me. It felt like a constant barrage of abuse and nonsense from every quarter.
The value I used to find in the platform is now virtually impossible to see due to the tidal wave of adverts and sponsored posts and notifications from people I didn’t know, or follow, or care about.
My friends’ posts are lost in the flood and even the businesses and brands I’m genuinely interested in are getting swamped. I have to remember to go to their pages and look for what they’ve been doing, or I don’t see them at all.
Before you scream at me to turn on my notifications, they are on. I’ve switched them on for people I care about and off for people I don’t and STILL there are so many notifications that are utterly irrelevant to me that I miss most of the ones I’d be genuinely interested in.
Facebook had become exhausting, and the biggest time-suck ever.
So I stopped.
I broke up with Facebook and did a week long ‘digital detox’. It helped, but when I came back I didn’t want to backslide. I’m on there occasionally to message friends, check a few things, or post on the regular threads in a very select few groups, but my time on the platform is now strictly limited to a minute or two at a time.
Never longer, and never more than twice a day.
That was something I was forced to do in order to manage the overwhelm and anxiety that was caused by the platform.
It’s a feeling I don’t get on any other social network, and never used to get on Facebook.
How I Got Back To Social Media Marketing
I made the executive decision to put a pin in social media marketing for TWCG until I could afford to hire a social media manager. The irony was, I was still managing client social media accounts.
In October I finally hired that social media manager (the fabulous Liz) and you’ll have noticed a sudden resurgence of social media activity for TWCG from the beginning of November.
The amount of extra time I have now I’m no longer dealing with any of it is ridiculous.
And the reduction in my stress levels is actually worrying.
Don’t over-think it, don’t worry about it, just stop.
Either pay someone else to do it for you, or simply abandon it. And if you’re paying someone, make sure you’re paying someone who knows what they’re doing, and understands the challenges faced.
Meanwhile, invest your freed up time in creating amazing new content for your website and building your SEO.
Where Facebook is concerned, you don’t have time for this shit.
#4 People Prefer To Find Information When They Want It
Another huge problem with Facebook’s shift to a focus on advertising is that there are so many more adverts. And you have no control over who targets you with those adverts. If the targeting algorithms think you’re a match for someone’s ad, they’ll show it to you whether you want it or not.
Just because you’re the target audience doesn’t mean you care about the content.
This is largely because a lot of people aren’t very good at effectively targeting their adverts. You end up seeing stuff that’s only tangentially related to things you genuinely care about, or stuff that you might have been interested once, or may be at some point in the future, but aren’t right now.
While they may click on an advert out of curiosity, if they’re actively searching for something it’s because it’s an immediate need or want. There’s nothing to guarantee curiosity in an advert will translate to a desire to actually acquire what you’re offering.
This is why conversion rates from organic traffic are generally higher than they are for paid traffic. The fact that paid traffic is capable of commanding more traffic faster often skews this, because you can achieve the same results far quicker with paid ads that organic traffic. It’s also a lot easier to quantify the results of advertising than it is SEO.
But where conversion rates are concerned, it’s far easier to convert people who found you because they were looking for you and what you offer.
#5 Facebook Prioritise Certain Content, And It’s Not Yours
Does and of this sound familiar?
You’re not uploading original, native videos to Facebook. The thought of doing Facebook Live brings you out in hives. You don’t even know what Facebook Watch means (seriously, is that like the Apple Watch?), and you’re fairly sure you don’t want to find out.
You have a genius system that automatically reshares all your old content on Facebook, but it’s not video, it’s not live, and you’re not doing any personal sharing in networking groups, so your engagement and reach suck and nobody sees any of it.
You have a killer social media schedule in place for every blog post, ensuring your content is repurposed on your Facebook page and in your group, but the organic reach it garners is minimal, and you aren’t willing to pay to advertise it.
If this is you, don’t worry.
You’re still doing everything right.
You’re not screwing up.
Your content isn’t letting you down.
It’s doing exactly what it’s supposed to do, and so are you.
But there’s another reality that you are going to have to deal with:
Facebook doesn’t like your content.
The Facebook gods won’t prioritise it until they see it has a bucket load of engagement and reach, which you’re not going to get without:
- Paying to advertise it.
- Spending a lot of time engaging with people and encouraging them to engage with you directly on your page (easier said than done).
- Taking advantage of Facebook Live.
There’s no getting around it. Those are your options on Facebook.
Why I Turned To SEO Over Facebook
In addition to The Write Copy Girl I also have an author blog for my fiction writing. I pretty much abandoned this in the summer of 2016 so I could focus on TWCG. I hadn’t updated the website or posted a blog in 18 months when I went on to check something and, while in the dashboard, happened to notice the traffic stats.
Which were somehow steady and surprisingly high considering it was 18 months since I posted a blog or did anything on my author Facebook page or Twitter to drive traffic to the site.
A quick check revealed something really surprising. I had been holding steady at a respectable traffic rate all that time due to a few key blog posts that rank very well on Google and had been consistently driving traffic to my site despite me abandoning it.
One post in particular, which is now two and a half years old, still gets a bucket load of hits daily.
Every. Single. Day.
Facebook does not have the power to do that. In the same time-frame there hasn’t been any traffic from my author page on Facebook despite its thousands of followers.
Because when I stopped blogging on my author page I also stopped my social media efforts to support my fiction on Facebook. With the exception of a weekly post sharing whatever was happening on my column on Sci-Fi Fantasy Network, nothing happened on my Facebook author page for months on end.
When your social media marketing stops, your traffic from social media stops.
SEO actually increases over time. The longer your posts are live, the higher your page authority improves.
If your content marketing stops, your existing content on your website keeps working for you.
The truth of the matter is, if video, paid ads and networking aren’t options for you, you’ll get more bang for your buck with other social media platforms (at least at the moment). And due to the nature of social media compared to SEO, you will get the most bang from the latter, because it’s as effective as all social media combined!
I’m a propounder of the Hustle, it’s one of the three pillars of content marketing, but there’s a world of difference between the Hard Hustle, that drains your time, energy and resources and gives little in return (it’s basically a vampire), and the Hassle Free Hustle, which allows you to effectively promote your content with minimal effort and expense.
So I’ve left Facebook for SEO. Facebook is dead to me.
Fortunately I’m a fan of zombies, and will happily return my attention to Facebook in the event it organic reach and engagement rise from the grave, or I develop enough time to do Facebook Live consistently.
That’s not to say TWCG won’t still be posting to Facebook.
But my efforts will be entirely governed by Liz (my fabulous social media manager) for now. In the new year I’m hoping to have time to devote to Facebook Live and building engagement through personal interaction.
Until then I’ll be focusing on creating the most fabulous content possible, and making the most out of my SEO and other social media accounts.
For example, in the last four weeks I’ve acquired almost 1,000 new Twitter followers and got great engagement without the need for networking, paid ads, or video of any kind.
That’s two thirds of the total following it’s taken me 18 months to create on Facebook!
My traffic from Twitter has never been higher, and I landed a new monthly blogging client despite having posted only a handful of promotional Tweets, all of them for a freebie!
Sorry folks, but there’s no saving this one. Where organic reach and engagement are concerned, Facebook is deader than Michael Jackson teaching a Dodo the moonwalk…