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Facebook Pages a Ghost Town?

“Ghost town” is a phrase that’s been tossed around when describing the apparent low activity levels on Google+, but a new study suggests that it could also apply to business activity using Facebook Pages. found that 70 percent of the Pages it studied aren’t actively posting, with Pages in the Community, Company and Public Figure categories especially inactive.

This does not surprise me. Facebook has been trying to kill Pages ever since the implementation of the Open Graph. Looks like they've been successful.

AJ Kohn's profile photoSerge A.'s profile photoMark Traphagen's profile photoMaryAnn Pfeiffer's profile photo
But would the percentage be any better here? Pages are easy to create, tough to keep up.
AJ Kohn
The future IMO is not about having conversations with brands but about brands. I'll be blogging about who I think is way ahead of the pack in that regard on Friday or Saturday.
+Mark Traphagen We get our small audience on FB through well targeted paid ads. On G+ getting audience as a brand is REALLY tricky. At least that's how I see it. So yap, I don't think numbers are better on G+. I would even think they are much worse because every "seo expert" now recommends a G+ page. And what then, after the page has been created?
+AJ Kohn the sad truth for small business is that unless they produce something ridiculously marvelous, they won't build even 1/100th of an audience of the "way ahead pack" no matter what they do. I hope I am terribly mistaken here. But what I see is that in most cases, those success stories don't expose the real driver behind success - such as brand power, % of resources invested in a given success, personal networks and etc. We are looking at what they do without really digging deep. In other words I often see a symptom of success confused with the cause. Can you please blog about real small businesses who went from 0 to 100 in at least 10 sec? That would be awesome!
+Sergey Andrianov I personally think you're on to something, and it's bugged me for a while. Social marketers (and I've been as guilty as the rest at times) may often take their own experience and assume it can be replicated by anyone. We spend an unusual amount of time in social networks and creating content and building networks etc. because, well, it's what we do for a living. But most SMBs can't invest that much time and effort. So when we say "just build a Google+/Facebook Page, create great content, and engage!" they end up frustrated.
AJ Kohn
Well +Sergey Andrianov, there's a problem there. Small Businesses have a totally different context. I'm not sure that a Facebook Page is the best use of their time.

It really depends but ... I think it's tough since Facebook is about personal navel gazing. 

Very few of the big brand success stories on Facebook can be applied to small businesses. And even those small business success stories may be more exception than rule.

It's just ... a lot of work and time which most small businesses don't have to spare. 
+Mark Traphagen , +AJ Kohn you guys rock! I thought I'd be criticized :-) AJ, a spot-on article. The numbers don't surprise me. I think I remember stats where 50% SMB don't have a website yet. AJ, I think there is a way better chance for an SMB to succeed on FB for a few reasons: 1) you can pay your way up 2) you can promo your posts to your audience. 3) Yes, for those who think sell sell sell on FB, there isn't a good chance unless they sell FB related stuff. But for those who just want to keep in touch with their customers and build their company's personality in social - thumbs up and way to go - much better than email.
Although our audience is tiny on FB, I feel so proud of us when a specific post generates 10% response. This keeps the engine going. But G+ ... oh boy ... Its the same strategy as 5 years ago with link building - produce something great and people will link to your website. Only nowadays the strategy is "to get tons of followers and engage". I guess it will come.
Like you guys both said - resources must be shifted. I don't complain, I realize now or never with social. But its still sad watching all the SMBs wanting to do "seo". Like "How much it would cost to optimize my website for 10 keywords?". And that's 10 years after keyword stuffing has gone. But hey, where does an average mom and pop shop get the resources to 1) get educated 2) practice?
I do see some local SMBs do well on Facebook, but they tend to be popular restaurants, bars, food trucks etc. that people love to feel connected with, especially here in Durham where we take our food personally! But if you were running a pest control business?
My SMB clients are incredibly frustrated with Facebook since the last algorithm update. Traction is nearly impossible to get or maintain without a considerable advertising investment. Even if they have a dedicated following, if they are not paying for promoted posts, nearly all posts are hidden.

It feels very 'bait and switch' for those who have invested time and scarce budget to creating a social media presence they get little to no return from. 
+MaryAnn Pfeiffer people naturally tend to complain about things that were once free and now became paid. I think that's how these people loose an opportunity. Facebook does something I call Paid-Organic. Paying for promotion of your posts to your audience is darn cheap. Yet it provides and an ample opportunity to increase your organic reach. When people interact with your promoted post, essentially what they also do is they improve engagement stats which in turn increases your organic reach for the next posts. Works like a charm. Our organic Reach is around 50 percent while everyone else complains they can not break through the 16 percent ceiling.
I suppose if one thinks in terms of Google, one can come to the conclusion that what Facebook is doing with promoted posts and paid ads is not that unreasonable.

Once upon a time, before anyone today seems to remember, Google search was all "free." That is, there were no ads, and the only way to get "on" Google was to rank high according to their algorithm. But as time went on two things happened. Everyone and their sister wanted a piece of that free traffic, so it set up huge competition for the limited space on that first page of Google (the only place that matters; almost no one goes past the first page of results). There are only 10 spots there, so many were shut out.

The second thing that happened was Google needed to monetize to keep providing those free results. So they introduced AdWords, a way to buy your way onto their front page. So now you have two ways to get in front of potential customers on Google: do your best with SEO and link building to get a free spot ("organic") or buy a spot by bidding on search terms important to you to show an ad.

What Facebook is doing is not fundamentally different. Most people's news feeds, if they ever saw the straight, unadulterated, unfiltered flow of posts from all their friends and liked pages, would be overwhelming. In all likelihood most of your page's posts would be like getting a search result in Google that shows up on page two or lower: it's there, but almost no one would ever see it.

So like Google, Facebook has an organic algorithm, and it is possible to get more of your posts seen by your fans if you are doing things that that algorithm likes. But the reality is that you will need to augment that with paid opportunities to get more in front of their eyes. Facebook is simply now giving you two ways instead of one to get content in front of your fans and prospects, just like Google.
+Mark Traphagen I was thinking of Google from a different prospective but along the same lines. One can advertise their content through paid ads and in turn receive links and pluses which will improve organic standings.
Though I'm drawing a parallel, I still thing Google is the better deal. People aren't on Facebook to do business or make purchases. But on Google you're reaching people right when they are in the midst of a purchase or brand choice decision. 
Oh that's for sure. All our business is from AdWords (well lately organic too). So yes, Facebook stands nowhere in reaching and selling to prospects (b2b especially). But where FB possibly outperforms Google is repeat sales to one's own clients through the means of keeping in touch or keeping the buzz. So that's essential to understand the difference of the two technologies and use them accordingly.
+Sergey Andrianov The businesses I deal with have no problems with paying for advertising, nor do they expect a free ride. But what they don't agree with is exorbitant rate cards for the size audience they are able to reach.

Maybe you and I are dealing with different markets. My small businesses are REALLY small businesses... software startups, mom and pop shops, new business ventures. Every dollar is VITAL to them, and while they are happy to invest in their marketing, they feel that they have already invested in building a page and acquiring a following. The idea that they then have to NOW pay $50 - $100/week to reach that following is outrageous. If that was going to be part of the marketing costs, they should have been told about that up front. They would have budgeted for it and invested appropriately for growth. But they have in one update gone from ad budgets of $50/month to $400 to reach the same market, and that's not reasonable. Nor is it fair. It is absolutely a bait and switch.

And I have to disagree with +Mark Traphagen on the purchasing on FB aspect, I have several clients who sell items to consumers who get a LOT of inquiry that leads directly to a sale. Google+ is a better investment in the long run for SEO and for B2B markets, but the yield has yet to show for consumer items in the small business space. I've asked everyone from +Yifat Cohen  to +Denis Labelle for case studies specific to Google+ and small business, but no one can provide one. It's coming, and I know it will happen (esp with Google Local), but it's not there yet.

I WISH I could move every one of my clients to Google+ and tell them to forget FB, but that's not possible right now. The consumers for some products are still there, and until they are ALL on Pinterest or somewhere else, my clients are stuck with FB.

So a long answer around to +AJ Kohn's original question about ghost town and FB page numbers is this... I see many small biz owners abandoning their pages b/c they can't afford exorbitant ad rates. But they aren't on G+ either b/c their existing consumer market hasn't moved here yet.
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