The people at Facebook find themselves more and more in places like the front page of The Wall Street Journal, where the most recent article on August 17, 2012 featured the headline “Facebook Investors Cash Out; Sales Limited Lifted on Early Backers; Zuckerberg Acknowledges ‘Painful’ Stock Dip.’
That’s not the type of headline corporate communications professionals want to see, especially when stock prices continue to fall instead of going up. Another problem for Facebook is more web marketing professionals are on to their internal shenanigans regarding what the Facebook designed algorithms do to pages it deems advertising related – not paid advertising to Facebook – and how the ratings of those pages automatically drop because algorithms – not human beings – scan content and make decisions using a broad, pre-determined template instead of human discretion.
The majority of income from Facebook is generated by paid site advertising, and Facebook forces advertisers to pay to promote themselves in other ways, too. The new page and profile format, known as “timeline” homogenizes and limits the ways in which brands can connect with fans. It’s a cat and mouse game, with the Facebook cat always looking for ways to maximize its own position at the detriment of users. The bottom line is, if advertisers don’t directly pay Facebook for advertising space, don’t expect Facebook to make any effort at all to help non-paying companies promote themselves through traditional public relations activities, which in modern terms means use of social media.
There was once a time when there was a belief social media was an open book, and marketers thought the ways of marketing through social media were new and exciting and the possibilities unlimited. Then, came ugly reality; social media is a business first and foremost, and businesses are designed to make money. Facebook has proven that concept time and time again, and struggles to constantly find new ways to improve its own position. Often, Facebook has gotten egg on its corporate face by trying a bit too hard, and has had to publicly backtrack, or has been on the losing end of legal suits forcing it to come to reality and realize it’s not omnipotent.
There are plenty of good, legitimate ways to market in the social media world with far better results than are found through Facebook. While Facebook grabbed all of the attention (How many other social media websites had a movie made about their founding?), other sites with less ambitious plans have been more friendly – and productive – to Internet marketers and businesses.