Why brands need to quit complaining about Facebook reach & advertising

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Recently, popular food delivery service Eat24 penned a breakup letter to Facebook, threatening to close its presence on the social network because of all the constant News Feed algorithm changes, fake likes and a push for advertising.

This complaint has been uttered or screamed by brand managers all over the world. It needs to stop.

Facebook is, at the end of the day, a business. It is not a charity. Companies — who are generally in the business of making money — complaining about a business doing what it can to make money feels self-centered.

Facebook is financially free for users who want to stay in touch with old classmates or share baby photos with friends. Facebook is financially free for pages who want a place to market to a section of their fans and customers. Facebook is not always financially free if you want to use the social network to grow your business, deliver a message to more of your fans than Facebook’s free organic reach, or get more relevant fans.

Those who are responsible for social marketing need to accept Facebook for what it is now, not what it was a year ago or five years ago. Facebook is not a solution where you’ll have the message in front of 100 percent of your hard-earned fans, or even 50 percent. But in terms of a freemium platform? It’s pretty awesome.

Here’s a look at what Eat24 had to say to Facebook, claiming that the service will shut down its Facebook page at midnight:

Hey. It’s Eat24. Look, we need to talk. This isn’t easy to say since we’ve been together so long, but we need to break up.  We’d love to say “It’s not you, it’s us” but it’s totally you. Not to be rude, but you aren’t the smart, funny social network we fell in love with several years back. You’ve changed. A lot.

When we first met, you made us feel special. We’d tell you a super funny joke about Sriracha and you’d tell all our friends and then everyone would laugh together. But now? Now you want us to give you money if we want to talk to our friends. Now when we show you a photo of a taco wrapped with bacon, you’re all like “PROMOTE THIS POST! GET MORE FRIENDS!” instead of just liking us for who we are. That’s hella messed up.

Brandon McCormack, Facebook’s Director of Communications, responded to the breakup letter in a comment:

Hey Eat24, this is Brandon over at Facebook. I was bummed to read your letter. The world is so much more complicated than when we first met – it has changed. And we used to love your jokes about tacquitos and 420 but now they don’t seem so funny. There is some serious stuff happening in the world and one of my best friends just had a baby and another one just took the best photo of his homemade cupcakes and what we have come to realize is people care about those things more than sushi porn (but if we are in the mood for it, we know where to find it Eat24!). So we are sorry that we have to part this way because we think we could still be friends – really we do. But we totally respect you if you need some space.

While Eat24 is well within its rights to gripe about the cost and pervasiveness of Facebook advertising, shutting down its presence on the social network would be a huge mistake. Currently, Eat24′s Facebook page has more than 70,000 likes, with the most popular city being Los Angeles and the most popular demographic being 25 to 34 year olds. Many, many other businesses crave that kind of audience. The page has gained nearly 1,000 fans just in the past week. On Twitter, Eat24 has 34,800 followers — and I’m guessing that each and every one of those followers don’t see every Eat24 tweet. On Instagram, Eat24 has roughly 9,300 followers. YouTube? 631 subscribers.

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Those fake likes that Eat24 noted are overshadowed by its popularity in the U.S. Mediabistro’s PageData shows that 74 percent of Eat24′s Facebook fanbase resides in the U.S. 3 percent of Eat24′s Facebook fans come from India, with other clickfarm-heavy countries coming in at 2 percent (Vietnam, India, Philippines) and 1 percent (Pakistan).

By closing the Facebook page, Eat24 is ending the conversation with 74 percent of its fanbase because somewhere in the neighborhood 11 percent of its fanbase is potentially fake. Even when you add in the 11 percent of fans from the country of “other,” that’s 74 percent vs. 22 percent. Which would you rather listen to?

In terms of engagement, Eat24 holds its own. The page connects with its audience by posting funny memes and has one of the best comment response rates for pretty much any page on Facebook. Readers and fans see this, and they’re more inclined to join the conversation when they know that there a real person on the other end of the line. Shutting down Facebook is closing off a communication line with fans and customers.

However, the posts where Eat24 could really hit home are the coupon and offer codes. Currently, when Eat24 wants to press out a special deal to its fans, it links to the company website or shares an image. Utilizing offers might be more influential and get more people sharing — which boosts reach.

To put it into food terms, Facebook is Eat24′s most popular restaurant. They’re getting free rent, but threatening to close up shop because it costs money to reach more than a few customers.

Then again, if this is a publicity stunt to boost awareness and ultimately engagement of Eat24′s page? Well done.

Readers: Do you agree or disagree?

Image courtesy of Shutterstock.

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