I wrote this article last year after I got locked out of my old Facebook account, which included both my personal profile and business page. After months of trying to unlock it, I gave up and made a new account. This was originally written for a business magazine, but I just now realized they never ended up publishing it, which is why I’m now publishing it here.
If you speak with small business owners these days, about four out of five will tell you that every business these days needs to be on Facebook.
What they won’t tell you is that very few small businesses are actually making money off of Facebook these days. For the majority of small businesses, Facebook is a waste of time, money, and energy- here’s why.
Facebook’s organic reach is going down, and will almost certainly keep going down
What do I mean by organic reach? I mean the percentage of your Facebook followers who will actually see any given post on your company’s Facebook page. For instance, if you have ten thousand followers, and your posts are seen by two thousand people on average, that means your organic reach is 20%.
When “fan pages” were originally launched back in 2007, organic reach was well over 50%. However, by 2012, when page managers first gained the ability to see their organic reach, that figure had dropped to 16%- still not a bad number by any means.
Unfortunately for social media marketers, that figure has only continued to fall. One study found that between 2012 and 2014, the organic reach of the average page fell from 16% to 6.5%. Later studies found that as of 2016, average reach had fallen to just 2%.
More recent changes in Facebook’s algorithm will likely drop that number below 1%. Even Facebook is now telling marketers that Facebook pages are mainly a way to make paid advertising more effective, rather than a way to reach our audience for free.
Of course, your followers can always visit your page on their own initiative- they just won’t be seeing your posts in their news feeds anymore.
You’ll be advertising to spam accounts
Not only will your reach be low, but there’s another problem: not all of the people you do reach will be in your target audience. In fact, many will be nothing more than spam accounts.
There are, at the very least, tens of millions of spam accounts on Facebook. These accounts tend to “like” and follow a lot of company pages, in an attempt to make themselves look more like a real Facebook profile.
Once these spambots are following your page, you can’t get rid of them. Unlike subscribers to a mailing list, there is no way to get rid of Facebook followers. What this means for you is that your already pathetic 1% reach may in fact be only 0.5%.
Worse, this applies to paid advertising as well- a large portion of your advertising spend will be used to advertise to fake profiles.
You can be locked out of your account- forever
Sooner or later, when you log into your Facebook account , you may be asked to prove your identity.
What does that mean? It means you’ll have to upload a photo of your driver’s license. But you’re not done there.
Sometime within the next few days, you’ll be sent an email asking you to provide scans of even more documents- a utility bill, passport, certificate of incorporation, or even- no joke- a bank statement.
And if you do provide these documents? There’s still no guarantee that your account will be unlocked. If it isn’t, you’ll never know why- and you’ll never be able to speak to a live tech support person, because Facebook doesn’t have them.
The kicker: if you have an ad campaign running when this happens, you’ll have no way of logging in to manage it or turn it off. Your only recourse will be to call your credit card company and tell them to freeze payments to Facebook.
Bottom line: Facebook might still be useful if your business is something “cool” or social like a night club or a luxury brand. But the vast majority of small businesses shouldn’t bother with it.
Also published on Medium.