You’re Probably Wasting Your Time On Facebook

I originally started to write this post 2 weeks ago but half way through I realized I didn’t have all the information I wanted.

Since then I have been doing some tweaking and testing and I am even more down on Facebook than I was when I first sat down to write.

The original name of this post was ‘Facebook – How To Make It Work’.

However, unless you already have a large engaged following, a boat load of time to spend on building the latter, or an even bigger boat load of cash, I think it’s a total waste of time.

I think most Life Coaches are on Facebook because they think they should be on Facebook for credibility’s sake.

They haven’t sat down and worked out the return on the investment for their time which is absolutely critical if you’re not to be a busy fool.

I happen to disagree that any of us ‘need‘ to be on Facebook which is why I plan on closing the Coach The Life Coach Facebook page down soon.

Here’s the original post with some tweaks to represent some testing and research I have done since then.

You’re Probably Wasting Your Time On Facebook

There’s a scene in the brilliant ‘Monty Python and The Holy Grail‘ in which Eric Idle is pushing a barrow full of dead bodies through a plague infested medieval village shouting ‘Bring out your dead, bring out your dead’.

He is approached by John Cleese carrying an old man over his shoulder. Cleese says ‘Here’s one’. ‘9 pence’ responds Idle, to which the ‘dead’ man immediately chirps up and says, ‘I’m not dead’.

Then there is a back and forth between Idle and Cleese as the old man insists he’s not dead, Cleese calls him a big baby and the old man declares he wants to go for a walk and starts singing, ‘I feel happy, I’m so happy’.

Sadly for the old man, a bribe from Cleese and a mallet to the back of head put paid to his imminent recovery.

As I write this post (on Wednesday 9th July) I have the A Daring Adventure Facebook page open and I’m looking at the analytics wondering if they will ever recover, because they are very poorly indeed.

As of now I have 3,080 people who apparently like the page and here are some sobering stats for you to ponder.

Posted 5 hours ago.

A link to my free meditation book. I tell people they don’t need to even leave any e-mail details to get it.

One person has commented (other than myself), 7 liked it and 1 shared.

Total people reached – 281 or just under 10% of subscribers

Update: This post took off a tad after I wrote this and as of now has received over 1,100 views. In large part though that was due to a kind share from WildMind Buddhist Meditation – a page that’s definitely worth following by the way.

Posted 5 hours ago.

A link to a really excellent talk by news anchorman Dan Harris in which he talks about how he got off drugs, released himself from depression and became a happier person using meditation.

1 comment, no likes and no shares.

Total people reached – 38 or just over 1% of subscribers

Note: Interestingly Facebook claim they want outbound links like this, but I’m not seeing any more love than to posts that don’t leave Facebook. Whereas embedded videos do seem to be growing very quickly in popularity.

Posted 23 hours ago.

A link to my latest blog post, ‘20 Motivational Quotes From Science

No comments, 9 likes and no shares

Total people reached – 293, about 9% of subscribers

Posted 2 days ago.

Visual quote – ‘Time is precious, waste it wisely

1 comment, 7 likes, no shares

Total people reached – 104 or just over 3% of subscribers

I could go on and there have been exceptions such as the quote ‘There is no wi-fi on the forest, but I promise you will find a better connection’ which had 16 shares and was viewed by 833.

However, 833 only corresponds to just over a quarter of the people who are subscribed.

But even that’s misleading because a proportion of those views will have come from friends or followers of the people who have shared it.

The Facebook of 2013 Is Not The Facebook of 2014

How different it was 12 months ago when I would regularly get 2,000+ views from a significantly smaller subscription base.

There is one reason and one reason only I am still on Facebook with A Daring Adventure, and that’s because I enjoy it.

The recent changes to the Facebook algorithm (previously called Edge Rank) means that on average Facebook will only drip feed whatever you post to a small amount of the people who have subscribed, and the amount it sends is based upon previous engagement.

If you have low engagement it will maybe feed a taste to 1% of your subscribers to see what reaction it gets in terms of likes, comments and most importantly (it appears from my limited research), shares.

If it’s slim to none that may be it, and it moves on to the next new post leaving you wondering, ‘WTF??? I poured my heart and soul into that.’

It Doesn’t Matter If People Want To Read Your Stuff

So even though you have people who actually signed up with the express intent of reading what you have to say, Facebook won’t necessarily place it in their feed.

Of course people can visit your page directly, but that isn’t usually how most people use Facebook (especially on mobile devices), so if that first burst doesn’t take off it’s unlikely to ever do so.

The flip side is that if there are people jumping all over it and sharing with gay abandon, then Facebook will send it to more and more people on your list.

Even so, it’s still really hard work to get past 10% distribution without some super users sharing it and 3% seems more like the norm.

Why Asking Others To ‘Like’ Your Facebook Page Is A Bad Idea

This is the reason asking for Facebook ‘likes’ is such bad idea.

Indeed you may get a small token of social proof by having a higher number when people land on your page, but you also get more people who aren’t genuinely engaged in your content.

Therefore, you have a smaller percentage of your subscribers interacting with comments, shares etc.

Facebook then punishes you for not lighting the world up by sending your posts to even less people the next time.

And here’s where it gets worse.

That social proof you may have gained from having more people like your page is wiped out and then some when potential clients land on your page only to see no comments or interaction whatsoever.

From a Life Coaching perspective there are predominately two ways (or a combination of both) of circumventing this problem.

Neither are easy so it’s important you decide if Facebook is important enough for you to take either route.

One of those options is to spend money boosting your better posts or running either PPC (pay per click) or PPM (pay per thousand) ads.

However, you need to know what you’re doing with this otherwise you can waste a lot of money very quickly.

If you decide to take this route (and I am looking into this now and have started testing) then do your research or watch your bank balance dwindle for little return.

So what is the other way, the one that’s free (at least from a handing over money perspective because your time always has value)?

Work Your Tits Off

Sorry for the in-your-face approach to that, but it perfectly sums up what you will have to do if you want to make Facebook worth your time and effort.

This involves spending a lot of time building up a loyal following by providing a consistent stream of high quality content that engages, interests and entertains people.

You cannot do what I do i.e. post a couple of times per day and expect to build up a decent following because there’s simply too much competition and so few of your subscribers will even see it to begin with for you to create any momentum.

Yes I have over 3,000 subscribers, but you can see from the stats above that as far as Facebook is concerned I’m not doing a very good job of engaging them.

If I was, my reach would be a lot better and my material seen by far more people.

Fortunately for me, Facebook isn’t a part of my client acquisition. If it were, then I would have to get up off my complacent ass and do something about it.

People would have to see me as a resource and want to comment, share and like what I have posted. 

Cute little quotes are fine and I still post them because I enjoy doing so. However, there’s only so much anybody can say about a quote. 

Unless they’re controversial, they rarely spark conversation which is what you’re looking for with Facebook.

A better option is to post 2 or 3 quotes and ask people which they prefer and why?

Or to upload a quote and then ask people to give you their favorite quote of all time.

And by the way, asking questions on a regular basis is definitely a must for building engagement.

Or best of all (and presuming you have the time, skills and software), to upload short videos as these are gaining a lot of traction with the rapidly expanding mobile market.

It’s All About Engagement

Those options encourage engagement, conversation and in the case of the videos the potential for a lot of shares.

But even then it’s really hard because to begin with you are going to see a lot of tumbleweed and hear a lot of chirping crickets in the same way as when you first begin to blog.

Except building a blog following is easier.

And that’s what I mean by having to work your tits off because this is a long game not a quick win. You have to be prepared for that.

And even then you don’t know whether this approach will work because Facebook is perfectly able to to change the algorithm again and make all your hard work a wasted effort.

After I published my post ‘Is Facebook dead For Life Coaches‘ I started to wonder if I was being overly pessimistic.

That was still a slight concern when I started writing this post 2 weeks ago.

Not any longer.

Since then I have been testing different approaches and I cannot get anything to work.

I know I’m not putting enough time into it because I’m testing as much for you and the people who read here as I am myself.

As such my desire to spend a couple of hours per day on Facebook is not very high.

I have had a couple of posts since I wrote the bulk of this article that have had lots of comments and interaction, but still Facebook doesn’t push them much past the 10% subscriber range.

The only time I can get past that is when I get a lot of shares, or one or two shares from ‘super users‘ with large engaged followings.

A bit like the old man before the mallet, I don’t think Facebook’s dead yet, but from most Life Coaches perspective it’s certainly not going to be singing ‘I feel happy, I’m so happy‘ any time soon.

What’s Your Take?

I’d love to hear your feedback in the comments.

Are you seeing a decline, or are you one of the few coaches who’s nailing it?

Comments

  1. Tim, Facebook seems to be the ultimate life coach – encouraging us to do better than we are today. To strive higher, give more ourselves and put in more effort.

    Although 80% of us are wasting time on Facebook, Facebook probably is quite happy to let us go and keep it’s engaged and effortful 20% happy and reap the results.

    Facebook also reminds us that social media is like life, Tim. Things change. Wow – this is the Buddha and a life coach wrapped into one:)

    A mindless candle will bring you a flicker of “like”. A mindful candle will bring you enlightenment and engagement.

  2. Hi Tim. Interesting stuff. I have nowhere near the number of ‘page likes’ that you do, but have been on FB with a coaching page for two years now and have definitely seen a huge decrease in traffic in the past twelve months. I’ve subsequently reduced the amount of time I used to spend on there, posting a range of things – quotes, links, photos, etc.

    I feel that FB is changing in many ways, and often wonder if I could cut the proverbial umbilical cord – but I like’ (!) the connections that it provides, personally and professionally, even with the Big Brother attitude that it seems to have developed.

    I guess it’s still a ‘cheap’ way of marketing, if one wanted to use it in the manner that they’d ‘like’.

    I’m staying for now, but with the knowledge that they’re ‘controlling’ who sees my posts, and a little like a lottery – one day a post will get shared by lots of people and I’ll feel all warm and fuzzy! Actually, come to think of it, that happened when I posted on my husband’s The Home Brew Boat page trying to get up to 200 likes – it’s been seen by almost 900 people and we’re on 205 now! Sp it does work sometimes …

    😉

    • Tim Brownson

      To be honest I’d never give my personal Facebook page up as it keeps me in contact with old friends. I doubt I’ll let ADA go any time soon either, but I’m just accepting that it’s fun and has little benefit to my business.

      I had one this week hit over 4,000 views, but it’s not really provided any real benefit. It’s great getting extra followers, but you have to do something with them!

  3. Yes, the new Facebook is a huge pain – I follow A Daring Adventure and I saw NONE of those posts in my feed. I would much rather see your posts than a lot of the junk I’m currently seeing, including ads for things that I would never be interested in.

  4. Anna

    Just curious Tim, how do the current stats per post compare to pre-algorithm times? Were you getting well over 10% then?

    I have the same experience as Kate mentioned, too many posts from things I’m not really interested in that much (they must be going the paid route) and missing the posts that I always read and either comment on or ‘like’ which is so irritating. Perhaps if enough of us viewers complain about that end of it they might make some modifications. I think it would be great if I could whitelist some of my favorite pages I Like, so I always get their posts.

    • Tim Brownson

      There’s always been an algorithm Anna, it’s just that they changed it.

      Prior to the recent change I was getting closer to 20-25%, so we’re talking about a huge difference.

      And I doubt anybody is going to change facebook’s mind. It’s all about revenue generation and the likes of me and you don’t supply revenue to Facebook so we have limited influence, if any at all.

      • Anna

        Yes, I realize there has always been an algorithm, just not this ‘new’ method that has so many page owners in an uproar. I think facebook ‘might’ change things (as that seems to be their constant action, much yo the irritation of members) if people like me who get sick of just seeing the paid posts, stop responding to them, and generally move away from Facebook. They will lose revenue if enough people do that. It all comes down to money, so if they begin to feel this is effecting their wallet, things will change again. Of course they won’t make any changes as long as page owners pay to boost their posts.

        • Tim Brownson

          I hear what you’re saying although I’m not sure as I’m as hopeful for you.

          Most users don’t care about reach as they are using it for personal rather than business use. Also, a lot of small businesses are on it for no other reason than they think they should be.

          For revenue to be effected it’s the average user who has to rebel and I just don’t see that happening in any meaningful way. Facebook is projected to earn more than $10,000,000,000 this year in advertising revenue.

  5. Anna

    I can be a bit too optimistic at times. But Facebook is like the weather here in AZ, “If you don’t like it, just wait 10 minutes and it will change again.” You can never just enjoy the status quo at FB.

  6. HI All, Thank you for your helpful comments. I just started my Christian coaching business. I am just getting ready to investigate facebook advertising, and it is a “brave new world” to me. So, your experience is invaluable.

    • Tim Brownson

      Just make sure you hire somebody who knows what they’re doing Laurie. You can burn through a lot of money on Facebook if you don’t truly understand it – and few do.