There’s no getting around it, Facebook is everywhere. It’s the Coca-Cola of the 21st century. Seventy-two percent of adult Internet users are on the site. Pinterest and Instagram are in a distant second and third place respectively, with 31 and 28 percent. And though you can say something for both of them, that still means Facebook has more than double the users (and that’s assuming there is no overlap between the two, which there no doubt will be).

And yet I will contend that to reach people, you should not exclusively rely on Facebook. Heck, perhaps you shouldn’t rely on it at all. Instead, give some serious thought to the alternatives. How can I possibly defend that? Here’s how:

The Movers and Shakers have moved on

As you well know, in advertising you can either approach everybody so as to generate a large enough following through consistent plugging, or you can approach the trendsetters and use them to create a cascade, where their endorsements and positive reviews create a snowball effect among those that are watching them.

Generally, the latter strategy is far more effective. In one instance it doesn’t work at all, however, when they’re no longer around. And they’re not around on Facebook any longer. How can they be when grandma, bless her heart, has had an account there for nearly five years? The point of being a trendsetter is finding the new cool, the new hip. And Facebook hasn’t been in that category for quite a while.

Organic reach ain’t what it used to be 

In part, this is Facebook’s own fault — it has made it ever harder to reach others through organic advertising alone. Of course, in a way this is understandable. It is a business trying to make money, but I would argue Facebook has gone too far and made it neigh on impossible to grow your network without coughing up the dough. It is no longer content, but money that is king.

That’s slowly changing the nature of the network. Before, normal people that had a really good idea and were very good at expressing it could rise to the top organically by generating likes and shares. The great thing about this system was that it meant undiscovered talent could compete with people with money and occasionally get noticed. People ate that up. It was one of the great things about Facebook.

Now that has been made far more (too?) difficult. The upshot of this is that the content rising to the top on Facebook is no longer as original or ‘everyman’ as it used to be. Instead, it is far more corporate, which means that users pay it ever less heed.

The news feed has been tweaked again

But rather than paying any heed to this, Facebook has recently gone a step further, by making users’ news feeds less time sensitive. Instead, the news feed gives more attention to posts that you’re more likely to like and interact with.

This is great for the users — they’ll have an easier time finding the posts they want to see, but it isn’t quite as good for the little guy or gal trying to grow organically, seeing as initially he or she is going to struggle to generate those likes and shares to rise to the top. That guy and gal will end up further down on people’s newsfeeds and thereby have an even smaller chance to get noticed and make it big.

The result? Those posts that are not generated by friends and family, but do end up higher up on people’s news feeds are more and more going to be ones that have been paid for, which means they’ll be more likely to be corporate or at least backed by a corporation. That will make them less interesting to users.

And just like always happens in those situations, the public will learn to ignore them – just like they’re now auto-clicking away those annoying newsletters. That will make each ‘view’ less valuable, even while you’ll end up spending the same amount for it. In other words, you’re going to have ever less reach for every dollar spent.

There are a lot of fake accounts out there

And you weren’t even that sure that your views were real ones to begin with. Apparently 83 million accounts are not real ones and this is despite efforts by Facebook to clear them out. That’s nearly 20 percent of existing accounts. Now these are not all click-farms, but they’re certainly not accounts you want liking your page, as it means less of the initial accounts that see your page are going to be real people and you’re, therefore, less likely to get likes and shares.

That matters because Facebook decides how many additional people to show your page to based on how many people have reacted positively to your post so far. A lot of websites have actually gone under because they relied exclusively upon Facebook for their marketing and ended up with too many fake likes there as a result of an advertising campaign, meaning they couldn’t reach real fans. Now maybe they made some advertising mistakes, but it should be possible to recover from them; something that has proven exceedingly hard for many companies.

I’ll say it again, Facebook has tried hard over the last couple of years to tackle this problem, but that is not the same as it being tackled. And just like when your cousin Frank says he’s trying to deal with his alcohol problem, you don’t necessarily believe he’s succeeded, nor do you give him money when he asks for it.

They’ve got a new mobile platform for advertisements

And then there’s ‘Canvas.’ (https://canvas.facebook.com/) It’s an absolutely spanking new innovation. You know what that means? That’s right, bugs, fixed and overhauls and updates galore in the coming weeks, months, even years. That can be a real headache if you don’t have a big budget and a dedicated person taking care of this kind of stuff.

Yes, it might not be that hard to use (the general opinion seems to be that it is pretty user-friendly) but somebody has still got to sit down and get a handle on it. What’s more, it also means you’ve got to monitor it closely to make sure something looks good today still looks good tomorrow when the newest update has gone through. That’s a pain in the neck.

And did I mention it’s only for mobile devices? It is. Now why Facebook decided to do that, I’ve got no clue, but it means that you’re only reaching 68 percent or two-thirds of users. The other one-third will have to be reached in some other way. And that means yet more work and more marketing budget.

Last words

Now all this does not mean you can’t generate leads using Facebook. It is still a potent marketing tool and it has wide-ranging access, across many population segments, from those with the highest education to those that haven’t even finished high school, young as well as old, and both among both men and women. That makes it enticing.

Facebook is no longer the plucky, innovative platform where we go to discover new bands, exciting columnists and cool stuff going on around town. Instead, it has become commercial,  corporate and, dare I say it, a business.

That is the last thing you really want to be associated with when you’re working on brand promotion and advertising. So perhaps it is time to take our business elsewhere.

By in Branding Business Facebook Featured