Is the buzz around Facebook fading? That is just what a couple of recent studies suggest.
A recent Inside Facebook study indicated a steep decline in the number of 18-44-year-old active users in the United States, especially 26-34-year-olds. Some hypothesize that it's because of privacy concerns.
A second study highlighted teens with Facebook Fatigue: Although teens in the study spent two hours per day online on average and 80% of that time using a social network, nearly one in five (19%) with an account no longer visit Facebook or are using it less. Forty-five percent of them have lost interest, 16% say that they're leaving because their parents are there, 14% are leaving because there are "too many adults/older people," and 13% have privacy concerns.
A New York Times post also recounts growing discontent with Facebook and people deleting their accounts.
Time will tell whether all this is all just a blip or a full-out backlash.
But if this pullback really is a sign of things to come, perhaps it's time to bring your fans home—back to your website. Marketers should give serious thought to supplementing their social-media strategies with a strong content-driven website.
Here are a few points to consider:
- Personalization. Achieve more control and more options by bringing your fans back to where it all started—your homepage. There are countless powerful tools to help create content delivery based on the user's personal site experience and preferences. Tailoring your one-to-one interactions makes them much more powerful and gives you valuable information about your users.
- Security. There will always be changes in policies and security practices on Facebook, because it is an active user tool. The demographical statistics you can pull from your fans' personal profiles may not always be available for such easy access. It makes sense, then, to keep your fan base, a corporate asset, close to home.
- Advertising. Facebook Advertising has its pros and cons. Although it offers a unique opportunity to target ad delivery, it also lets your competitors tap your fans and target their ads to them. Lately, Facebook ads are starting to look like spam and cluttering the user experience.
- Relationships. Developing direct and sincere relationships with your customers and dedicated followers of your brand is significant for future opportunities. Connect your site audience to your customer relationship management (CRM) through email opt-in and lead capture to provide data to drive community analytics.
Sold yet? If so, make sure you start slowly and clearly map out your goals. In a Forrester research study titled "Online Community Best Practices," analyst Jeremiah K. Owyang urges companies to "focus on objectives, chart a road map, assemble the right team and plan to be flexible."
Being flexible includes shifting your campaign to fit the specific needs and wants of your fans. But how?
If you have started a successful Facebook community, survey your fans to get a sense of what they want in a social Web experience. Your users will be eager to provide their thoughts. But be sure to acknowledge their participation and thank them for their suggestions!
Once the focus has been set, it is important to examine the kinds of relationships you plan to cultivate. With whom do you intend to communicate?
Think beyond your obvious audience and find new segments that you can reach. Have direct conversations with people and learn about their interests and behaviors as they apply to your brand. You want to create an experience that people enjoy and want to repeat, and delivering personalized content is a great way to achieve that.
Personalization, both implicit (filtering performed by the website) and explicit (filtering performed by the user), allows for community members to quickly sort and consume the information that is most relevant for them.
Of course, a company will have to be careful, since hyperpersonalized content is part of the reason users have become leery of Facebook. But if done the correct way, personalizing a Web experience is a powerful way to connect with and learn from the consumer.
In our fully connected world, it is no secret that the Web is changing every day. Considering the possible shift away from Facebook, marketers are beginning to spot reasons to work to bring their fans back home. Doing so will give the brand a better chance to initiate a compelling, collaborative—and ultimately trackable—Web experience.