Is Facebook Worth Your Time?

Of course the pictures of your friends’ babies are worth your time. Is it worth your time to keep up your company Facebook page? Plenty of social media mavens are saying no: Facebook is now telling businesses to pay or you can’t play, so it’s time to treat them like an advertising option, not like social media.

We believe in data-driven decisions, so here are some good places to look for data that will let you answer that question for your office, brand, or non-profit.

How’s your reach?

Facebook will send you a weekly report on your pages. Among other things, this will tell you your total Likes and total Reach for the week. Divide the Reach by the Likes to see how much Facebook is showing to your fans. We get a report with lots of pages on it, and we saw numbers ranging from .01 to 6.2. If your posts are reaching just a smidgen of the people who’ve Liked your page, you’re not getting much bang for your buck.

If you have 1,000 likes and your typical weekly reach is 1,000, then those fans (or other people in the same quantities) are potentially seeing your stuff at least once a week. If you divide your Reach by your Likes, you’ll get 1.0.

I’d be inclined to say that 1.0 is about where you’d need to be in order to feel that you’re seeing results.

How’s your traffic?

Is Facebook driving traffic to your website? Unless you’re selling directly on Facebook or your brand sees lifts in retail sales that mirror your Facebook activity, Facebook’s biggest job should be to get people back to your website.

Check your web analytics to see whether you’re getting traffic from Facebook. You probably won’t see which Facebook page is sending the traffic, but you’ll see the results of all the people who Share your posts, plus the people who Like your stuff at your website, as shown in the screenshot above, not just the folks who visit your Facebook page directly.

While you’re in your web analytics, check something else:

How are your conversions?

For the great majority of our clients, Facebook may send traffic, but the conversion rates are very low.

This doesn’t automatically mean that Facebook isn’t worthwhile. If people casually click through from Facebook one day, and the next day you come up in search and they click through and buy, Facebook is a part of that path to purchase. If they’re using the same computer on both occasions, you’ll see that as an assisted conversion, but many people visit Facebook on their phones and shop on a desktop (that’s what coffee breaks are for, right?), so you may not see it.

However, the tendency to convert is definitely an important part of the equation. Just compare the conversion rate of Facebook traffic with that from other sources.

When you’ve checked all these aspects of your Facebook page’s performance, you can make a decision.

  • If all the metrics are poor — your Reach/Likes is 0.3, Facebook sends 1.5% of your social traffic, and the conversion rate for Facebook traffic is half the site average — you should quit sending much in the way of resources towards that Facebook page. Auto-post your blog, keep your cover photo looking good, and that’s enough.
  • If all the metric are great — your Reach/Likes is 3.0, Facebook sends 15% of your total website traffic, and the conversion rate is above the site average — then it’s worth your time. Don’t reduce the resources you’re putting into Facebook because, no matter what the word on the street may say, Facebook is doing a good job for you.

It’s when the metrics are in the middle that you have to wonder. Maybe your Reach/Likes is .67, Facebook traffic is 5% of your referral traffic, and the conversion rate is average. In that case, you have some options:

  • Try to move the needle. If putting a little more effort into Facebook will get your numbers up, it could be worthwhile. Give yourself a month and see if those numbers are improving.
  • Dig deeper into the data. Find out whether Facebook does much in the way of assisted conversions. Look at the profiles of your Facebook fans and see whether they are in your sweet spot. Identify a few Facebook fan customers and calculate their projected lifetime value.
  • Check your competition. Are they outpacing you and if so, does it seem to be doing them any good? You’ll have to speculate a bit here, but you might see that an additional investment would be beneficial — or that you can’t beat them at that game.

You can’t be deeply involved in every social media platform unless you have an unlimited budget for social media marketing. It makes sense to identify the platforms that give you the best results and focus on them.

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