Facebook is failing marketers, according to Forrester's Vice President and Principal Analyst, who says he's talked to brands, who are becoming increasingly frustrated.
This isn't the first time Nate Elliott has criticized Facebook. Last fall, he wrote an open letter to Mark Zuckerberg about Facebook failing marketers, generating a fair amount of industry discussion. In that, he told the CEO that a Forrester survey of nearly 400 marketers and eBusiness executives told the firm that "Facebook creates less business value than any other digital marketing opportunity."
He included this graph:
And that was before the company implemented its devastating News Feed algorithm changes, which all but killed organic visibility for brands who spent years acquiring "likes" from customers who wanted to see updates in their feeds.
Even since then, Facebook has started cramming in more content from Pages users actually haven't liked.
But organic reach is one thing. Paid is another, right? According to Elliott, Facebook's paid ad products "aren't delivering results for most marketers" either.
"Brands and agencies are now openly talking about their discontent," he writes in a new blog post (via Business Insider). "Every day I talk to brands that are disillusioned with Facebook and are now placing their bets on other social sites — but few of them want to go on the record. Lately, though, more brands and agencies have started speaking openly to the media about how Facebook is failing them. One former Facebook advertiser referred to Facebook as 'one of the most lucrative grifts of all time.'"
That would be James Del, head of Gawker’s content studio in a recent DigiDay article. The rest of his statement was, "First, they convinced brands they needed to purchase all their fans and likes — even though everyone knows you can’t buy love; then, Facebook continues to charge those same brands money to speak to the fans they just bought."
"Marketers are worried many of their fans are 'fake,'" continues Elliott. "Many marketers and many publishers are reporting that huge percentages of their fans come from emerging markets where they didn’t expect to find an audience. The kicker? They’re saying many of those fans don’t seem to interact with people or with branded content — they seem to do little other than 'like' thousands and thousands of brand pages. The conclusion some marketers are coming to: The paid ads Facebook encourages them to buy often lead to 'fake' fans generated by 'like farms.'"
He goes on to mention that one B2B marketer told him that Facebook's "constant rule changes" are the biggest problem they have, and concludes that marketers don't believe Facebook will ever "live up to its promise and become a valuable marketing channel."
This hasn't stopped Facebook from raking in the ad dollars. In January, Facebook reported that its ad revenue was up 75% year-over-year at $2.34 billion (with 53% of that from mobile, which itself was up 23%).
And yes, on the organic side of Facebook's News Feed, things really are that bad. Earlier this month, research from Ogilvy found that the average organic reach of content published on brands' Facebook Pages had fallen to 6% by last month (compared to 12% in October).
As you can see, it's even worse for Pages with more likes. Way to reward the brands creating the most engagement, Facebook.
Those are some depressing lines, eh? They don't exactly look like they're about to change paths in March do they?