Facebook like button is a standard feature of most websites, seen as the gateway to the instant engagement with the customers and readers. Chances are you ran into this article in the middle of a feverish search for the way to add this button to your blog or site. But stop for a moment and think – just because everyone does it, should you too?
Throughout the years, Facebook has been a slippery friend to everyone – its customers, media, politicians, and yes – digital marketers. Even though many marketing gurus still see Facebook as the alpha and omega of a solid marketing strategy, 2018 may be the year when we should reconsider this belief.
The digital landscape changed significantly since the early days of the social network’s boom, leading us to these five reasons to drop Facebook like button.
First and foremost, Facebook is not here because of you, the digital marketer. It is here because of a social network user who’s on Facebook for personal entertainment. For a while, digital marketers’ goals and interests overlapped with those of Facebook. That was when the network was still expanding.
Facebook saw an opportunity to capture business users and slowly build their dependency on an easy outreach and engagement with customers. In 2014, business pages’ organic outreach hit a sharp decline – when Facebook decided to monetize its ad space. People shrugged, paid, and for a few years, everyone was happy.
But even in that era, the social network giant was no stranger to keeping its business users on thin ice. Its algorithm history, patiently assembled in this article, has more twists than a daytime soap opera.
For example, in 2015, Time magazine estimated that Facebook was tweaking its algorithm two to three times a week. Basically, the same things that generated likes and launched your organic reach in February, could turn your page obsolete in March. You probably remember the fads that seemed to be all over your news feed one month, only to see them completely gone after a few weeks. Back in the day, those were games and clickbait sites – but now it is advertisers.
Facebook eventually overreached – with gaming and third-party apps, clickbait headlines, fake news, echo chambers, and user privacy issues. This potentially deadly cocktail exploded in the aftermath of the 2016 U.S. presidential elections.
Mark Zuckerberg has weathered too many scandals, and at the moment, he desperately needs to save his company’s face and reputation – even if that means dropping valuable ad revenue from both questionable and transparent sources that were so eagerly welcomed four years earlier.
In June, Facebook released a new tool that will enable users to see all of the advertisements a particular page is running. It will give everyone a complete insight into the way you’re using the platform. By clicking on a button “info and ads” at the top of your page, a user will be able to see all the ads you’re running on Facebook, Instagram and Messenger – across all targeted locations, demographics and segmented groups.
According to Facebook, the goal of this move is to “increase transparency and accountability, as well as prevent election interference.” By putting advertisers in a carefully outlined section, Facebook team severely diminished the marketers’ ability to “blend” into customers’ personal digital surroundings.
Which brings us to the ultimate direction Facebook is taking in the future – getting back to its roots, moving from large stories to personal interaction between friends. Long story short – in this algorithm, Facebook likes generated on your page are likely to mean nothing.
What is the channel that leads to the highest conversion rates? Your good old email.
Not convinced? Send a link to the same number of your social network followers and email subscribers. When Derek Halpern did it, he received 300 clicks to his website from Twitter and 4200 clicks from his email list.
What is the difference? When someone gives you their email address, they agree to communicate with you on a much more personal and profound level than someone who passively clicks on conveniently positioned Facebook like button. You don’t have to worry about the perfect time of the day to send a notification or message. You don’t have to deal with competitors or potential distractions on the news feed.
While building your email list requires hard work, it also delivers results. Compared to that, chasing people on Facebook looks like shooting blanks. Your email list is a group of high-quality leads, likes are a passive group of people who couldn’t even bother to copy your URL and share it on their page.
Essentially, when you bring people to your website, you should have one clear, defined goal and push people towards it. “One page, one purpose, one targeted keyword phrase, one best answer,” as SEO and conversion specialist Angie Schottmuller simply put it. In this case it means – you should chase the purchase or an email, not a Facebook like.
We are not trying to tell you that you should throw away the valuable traffic coming from social media. But you should make sure this traffic flows towards you, not from you. So if someone finally lands on your website, why would your Facebook share or like button direct them elsewhere? If your website is good, it has everything a potential customer needs.
Once you drive people away from your website to your Facebook page or their own profile, you’re immediately putting them in an environment full of distractions. They could see a notification from their best friend, receive a message from their mother, or just notice an interesting video and end up far away from your site.
Do you really need all of them?
Another problem with like/share buttons is that people tend to overdo it on the choices front, adding icons that lead to various social networks. This can kill your conversion rates due to a phenomenon called “paradox of choice.” Essentially, if we are faced with too many choices, we are likely to choose nothing.
If your specific business does use Facebook to generate the website traffic, try to use its like or share button discreetly – for example adding it alongside other social media icons to the footer instead of the header.
If you fear that forgoing social media buttons could affect your traffic in a negative way, look at the experiences of Smashing Magazine or Basecamp. After ditching Facebook like button and other social media gateways, they had more readers sharing articles on their timeline. Search Engine Journal had a similar experience.
“I wanted readers to share the individual blog posts because that had more SEO value for my site in the long run. Sharing the newsletter was still good because it introduced my brand to a bigger audience, but my site wasn’t reaping the benefits of those social shares,” writes the president of Brick Marketing, Nick Stamoulis.
His blog wasn’t the one getting the links and share signals because the newsletters are stored in an archived subdomain on his respective email marketing company’s site. “By removing those share buttons from the email, people that wanted to share my content could directly share the blog post. I made it the only way they could share, and even if that meant fewer people were sharing the newsletter as a whole, my blog was getting the extra links,” Stamoulis added.
The Facebook SDK duplicates many of the tools the average site already has. The SDK’s breakdown looks like this.
If your site needs Facebook likes and comments, Free Code Camp suggests limiting the SDK’s performance impact by only loading these features when needed (e.g. displaying comments only after the user scrolls all the way to the bottom of the text).
“If you’re unknown, social media buttons make you look like a dog waiting for the crumbs from the table,” says designer and founder of iA, Oliver Reichenstein. “You might have magnificent writing skills and a lot to say, but you will still only get a few retweets and likes.”
A lot of Facebook likes and shares under your blog post or product can be a recommendation for your goods and services. But it doesn’t necessarily have to be. “Social proof isn’t always the best proof – you would think that social proof helps boost conversion rates, but it doesn’t always work that way,” QuickSprout founder Neil Patel says.
In most cases, these digital interactions are lingering around single digits, and that can have a counter-effect, sparking distrust among the potential customers. Why would anyone advertise the fact that their post has zero likes and shares right under the headline?
For the past ten years, Facebook has become a constant in our social lives and the digital marketing world. Just like we do with most things that are a given, we’ve stopped reevaluating our relationship with this social network. We’ve learned that certain marketing strategies work, when in fact, they ceased being effective a long time ago.
Does this mean that digital marketers should give up on Facebook altogether? Absolutely not. But the practices that have been the standard should catch up with the changes in Facebook’s policy and approach towards its users.
As Facebook is going back to its roots and focusing on social interactions among friends and family, your marketing strategy needs to shift towards a more personalized engagement with the customers. Quizzes are one of the excellent ways to engage with potential customers and find your way into Facebook’s tweaked news feed – check out this post to learn more!