Is Facebook Losing Relevance?

I was reading an article recently about why people are cutting back on their use of Facebook. I have several friends that have cut back on their Facebook usage and even a couple that have cancelled their accounts all together. I have been slowly changing my approach to Facebook, as well. How will this impact small businesses on Facebook? This is an important question for marketers.

I have a few challenges with Facebook that a typical user doesn’t have, of course. I am in the marketing business, so I need to stay relevant and up to date. That means maintaining a profile as well as a Facebook Page for my business. I also have my own websites, and those have Facebook Pages that need to be maintained. Then there are my client’s Pages.

I have found that interaction on my own Facebook Pages as well as on some of my client’s Pages have been decreasing for almost a year now, albeit slowly. This coincides with changes in how Facebook treats status updates by Pages. Facebook wants and needs revenue, so they have limited the exposure of updates in subscribers’ feeds. Instead, they want Page owners to pay to promote.

I’m not that interested in it for several reasons. Primarily, the promote feature has not been shown to¬¨‚Ćsubstantially¬¨‚Ćincrease user interaction. The other issue is simply that there are many other options available to promote content that do receive high levels of¬¨‚Ćinteraction¬¨‚Ćand cost less (notably, other social networks). Until Facebook can show the promote feature to worth the cost, then I do not recommend it.

This presents a problem for Facebook, but also for marketers. I am not suggesting that Facebook is going away anytime soon. More likely, it is shifting to become more of niche network similar to MySpace or Google Plus. More and more people are curtailing their usage of Facebook.

A couple of months ago, I went through my Facebook friends and removed anyone that I had not met in person (with only a few exceptions). I was surprised how that changed my Facebook experience. First of all, that removed almost 300 friends. Second, it changed my news feed to be a lot more relevant. My personal account has lots of Pages that I like. Those do not show as much as I would like, however I do get to see status updates by my real friends.

Many of those updates are what I call fluffy—not really about what is happening in their lives, but more of an edited version that makes it appear their life is wonderful, or it is simply just a joke or funny image. That is fine, but after a while people get tired of that and so Facebook loses its relevance.

Marketers have a real advantage to using Facebook. For many of our clients, Facebook is a solid source of traffic to their websites. I suggest continuing to invest effort in Facebook if it is working for you. At a bare minimum, there is not harm in posting useful articles on your Facebook page. Until such a time that Facebook completely loses relevance, small businesses will be expected to have a presence on Facebook. Your personal profile is a different matter….