Everywhere I turn, a friend or colleague tells me Facebook recently sent them a nastygram about spammy behavior. Each time, we have a laugh about it.. until someone gets suspended for the most asenine of reasons. I have not been a fan of Facebook for a while but now it is only getting worse. Let’s just say I am glad I did not put all my eggs in one basket…
As a free platform with full functionality out of the box, Facebook was a strong social network. It started as a site for college students to network with each other and turned into something much bigger and better. Facebook has blown up and become bigger than I am sure they originally anticipated. In my humble opinion, they became too big too fast.
Due to the rapid surge in growth (and selling out with their IPO, which means now it’s all about keeping shareholders, not users, happy), Facebook has scurried to find ways to monetize. Their strategy has been what we see so often: take away what we were already getting for free and water down the rest, essentially forcing people to pay if they want the same functionality. It’s the old bait-and-switch at work.
The Facebook model is brilliant yet tragically commonplace: give it away for free, create a dependency (or addiction), then monetize and take our candy away. On Facebook, we make friends and get fans only to find out they are Facebook’s property. Fan Pages are almost completely useless now as only a small percentage of your subscribers will see updates unless you pony up some money.
Why are people getting suspended on Facebook? Why are their sites/links being flagged as “potential spam”?
Facebook prioritizes paying advertisers, not their end-users. If you pay to self-promote, you are an advertiser. If you self-promote for free, you are a spammer. That’s Facebook’s new policies in simple terms.
So, is it time to leave Facebook? Not quite. I do strongly recommend the following to all colleagues and clients alike: start lessening your dependency on Facebook and explore alternatives ASAP.
Before you can really figure out what the alternatives are, here are the pros and cons of Facebook:
- Everyone is on Facebook!
- There are lots of fun things to do.
- Sharing your content and status updates is easy!
- It’s free to use.
- Everyone on Facebook is VERY distracted.. Except for maybe the other marketers and business people that are building an audience or looking for sales.
- Facebook can be a huge time sink if you are not careful.
- Potential clients, customers, and collaborators on Facebook are likely overwhelmed by a flood of content and updates.
- Your content is essentially invisible unless you tag people are share frequently, risking suspension.
- It’s only free if you don’t want to do any heavy promotion/marketing.
- Facebook content is almost completely self-contained, invisible to search engines, and stinks for SEO and Inbound/Attraction Marketing purposes.
- It’s too easy for competitors and rude people to flag your content as inappropriate/spam, even if it is not.
- Facebook Support is non-existent.. Unless you count robotic responses.
Now this is only a partial list but you can see the cons outweigh the pros.
So what are the alternatives to Facebook? It really depends on what you are looking to do. Some platforms completely forbid self-promotion, making them more about networking and building trust. Other platforms are a free-for-all for marketers, which can lead to a lot of confusion, diversion, and noise.
I will make the assumption that you have content and you want to share it. Maybe you want to make some sales, maybe you are expanding you audience, maybe you are building up your personal brand.. Whatever the case may be, you are marketing to some extent.
I will leave you with five of my preferred alternatives to Facebook and why I think these are safe bets:
- Go Native – Having your own web site is always the first thing to focus on. It’s yours and no one can tell you how you can use it, what you can share, and how often you can update it. Of course, for those lacking scruples this may be a bad thing but a little patience and discipline will help you find the sweet spot when figuring out frequency and aggressiveness. Owning your content is key because digital sharecropping is a dangerous pursuit. Imagine if you were told you could not syndicate content because it no longer belonged to you or, worse, you lost access to your account all together. It could happen – the EULA/TOS is filled with tricky language that strips you of your intellectual property! Keep your goodies safe on your own site, folks!
- Google Plus – Yes, you can’t mention Facebook without bringing up or at least thinking about Google+, simply because they are so similar. Google+ has been very clear that they forbid advertising because that’s what Google Ads are for BUT you can still self-promote so long as you provide some immediate goodies or “value up front”. Google+ has so much functionality built in all for free and, if you are big on search engine marketing/optimization, the benefits are endless. Being active on Google+ also helps you establish your authorship and build more credibility! Oh, and Google+ has [Video] Hangouts and better collaboration. Right, Saul?
- Twitter – Keeping up with daily or weekly updates can be a real pain when you worry about quality. Twitter lessens this burden by allowing you to share quick updates wherever you are. For those who prefer short-and-sweet content, this platform is unbeatable. It’s also a great way to repurpose existing content into smaller, more concise pieces.
- Guest/Off-Site Blogging – Anyone who talks to me enough knows I love writing and SEO. Blogs are great for both. Blogging off-site helps you build quality backlinks and create more trust with your audience. The beauty of guest blogging is that it’s mutually beneficial for everyone involved. The target sites get fresh content and you get to spread out your influence!
- Vlogging & Video Shorts – Videos are becoming more and more powerful nowadays. Google and other sites are learning how to dissect videos and gain insights into their content. For some, putting together videos may be easier than writing or even podcasting so this is a great alternative. If you have a blog, consider doing some video blogs (vlogs), which is something I really should do myself.. I have seen this produce tremendous results for clients, ranking them at the top of very competitive searches.
Again, I am not saying abandon Facebook but, with all these great options and so many more out there (i.e. StumbleUpon, Instagram, Pinterest, and Tumblr), there is little reason to make Facebook your focus anymore. You can build your audience, entertain, share great content, become an authority, and so much more if you leverage other platforms and remember to never rely on a platform you do not have full control over.