Facebook doesn’t produce quality engagement.

27Oct08

Okay, so most of the Social Media mini case studies on associations I see are about Facebook. Not to say that these findings aren’t relevant, but in my personal experience, Facebook does not create great engagement. Here’s why…

1. There are too many other things going on in the Facebook world.

You are not the only thing this person engages in. There are a ton of things going on that you are directly competing with for attention. You have Fan Page, Group Pages, Event Messages, Status Updates, etc. They may glance at your message, so unless you are high on a member’s value scale, they aren’t going to pay attention because they have a million other things on the screen trying to get their attention.

Lesson here – Be engaging!

2. The layout does not spawn group involvement.

The first thing you see when you open a group page is the description and who the admins are. Great for a new member, but horrible for someone who is looking to engage. I have this engagement theory about html emails that I think applies to these Facebook pages… If it’s not in the first “page” (meaning they don’t have to scroll down), then they aren’t going to pay attention. The actual engagement tools are all the way down at the bottom of the page! Do you want to scroll down through a lot information that was useful to you at one point but is now annoying, just so you can upload a picture or a video, add to a discussion or post to the groups wall? I wouldn’t think so.

Lesson here – Be relevant!

3. Do people even pay attention to Fan Pages?

I think fan pages are more of a symbol, a badge to say “Hey, I like them!”, then your friend sees that you’ve become a fan in their Feed (one thing that makes #1 so true), and they are like “Hey, I like them too!”. The fan page might send a message or an update, but it competes with the million of other fan page updates you get, so unless it’s 140 characters or less, it probably won’t be read anyways.

Lesson here – Be concise!

4. The search feature isn’t always the most helpful.

Have you ever tried to search for something or someone on Facebook? It can prove fairly difficult at times. There are ways to make it easier on you, mainly be being more specific. A search for “association professional” turned up 500+ groups on Facebook. Yes that is a general search, but a basic one at that. So depending on who your association serves, it could prove difficult or time consuming to utilize that feature. On the bright side, it’s a interesting way to learn who else is out there.

Lesson here – Be specific!

5. One you join a group do you interact with each other?

People in general want instant gratification out of Facebook. Everything happens immediately and I think that’s one reason there is a such a big draw with Facebook. With groups, other than the wall there is not instant gratification. “The Wall” also is not a set-up that works for conversations and that is what social media/networking is about… the conversation!

Lesson here – Be involved!

Okay… so I’ve given you some reasons why I don’t like Facebook for engagement. Here is what I think it has going for it…

Event Invites – When creating an event invite you have the ability to invite you whole network and they have the ability to invite their network as well. Perfect word of mouth marketing right there. Plus if one of your friends chooses to attend the event, then they will have that appear in their feed to others, they are marketing for you without lifting a finger. PLUS Facebook gives you the option to send messages to the attendees. Trick is to know who to invite…

The ability to “spy” (for lack of a better term) on what your friends are doing – You can get a real sense of what people care about by their fan pages, group pages and applications. The question you have to ask yourself is whether or not you are getting information about the member in a private sense or a public/professional sense. What I mean is… Is this member’s profile more geared towards friends and family? Do they post things that are appropriate in a professional setting? etc.

So I’ve made my case against Facebook. Do you agree? If not, why? If yes, what is your favorite tool of engagement?

~Lynn

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2 Responses to “Facebook doesn’t produce quality engagement.”

  1. I think this is a great post. Funny you mention association case studies about Facebook, because just last night I blogged about that exact thing.
    http://mizzinformation.blogspot.com/2008/10/we-built-it-they-came-now-what.html

    I’ll be the first to admit that, for us, our success with Facebook is mostly, at this point, self-serving rather than a tool to engage members. We put up a Facebook page with no particular agenda other than seeing if anyone would even notice–members or non-members. We, like other associations, are definitely still in the phase of knowing that social media holds great promise in terms of member engagement, membership recruitment and retention, media and public relations, marketing, advocacy, etc, etc–but not being totally ready to sit down at the table and put together a social media strategy.

    But attracting almost 1,200 fans in less than 4 weeks sure sped up the process; suddenly the issue of social media has gone from being a vague, “we’ll think about it at some point down the road” to “we need to move forward now.” While the term “social media” is nebulous to many people, numbers are concrete. Seeing a Facebook insights report showing that the page gets 300+ visits a day and the number of fans has increased on an hourly basis for almost a month–that’s something tangible that those interested in the bottom line can grasp.

    Back to your original point, though–I think the main thing is to keep hopes and expectations for total member engagement on Facebook in check. I do think the points you make are very valid–in particular that there are MANY things going on in the Facebook world. But is that more true for people who are very active on Facebook–who have a million friends and belong to a million groups? What if your members are all mostly new to Facebook and joined expressly because you promoted it as a great networking tool and member benefit? Depending on the demographics of your membership, many fans may be brand new to
    Facebook and it may well be their only social network.

    You are also right about Facebook pages being a usability nightmare–I think that it definitely could have a negative effect on member engagement. After all, if they’re coming to the page to connect with other members they might give up before they realize they have to scroll down to be able to see the discussion feature. Again, the hope is that if they’re new to Facebook they’ll be more likely to be curious about the content of the page and more willing to root around for information.


  1. 1 The Division. « SNAP’s Blog

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