Over the last few years I have spoken about the poor performance from advertising on Facebook. I touched upon this on numerous articles, including “A Look Back at Why Facebook Page Reach Decreased Last Year“, “Everything You Need to Know About Promoting Posts on Facebook“, “Poor Performance From Facebook Page Promotion“, “Are the Likes That You Bought From Facebook Real?“, and “Is it Still Worth Promoting Facebook Pages?“.
My story with Facebook advertising can be summed up like this. I was constantly encouraged by Facebook to invest in Facebook advertising to promote my websites. I followed their advice and promoted some pages I owned.
Initially, I got a good return so I started investing more and more. In the end, I invested over $20,000 on Facebook advertising. This was not something I jumped into. I increased my expenditure over a period of a few months and tracked everything. If traffic continued at the level I was receiving, I would have broken even in three months.
Sadly, that did not happen.
Facebook decided to reduce the reach of the Facebook pages I was growing. As a result, traffic dropped to around 4% of its previous level. This took Facebook strategy from being in the green to being deep in the red.
It's worth reiterating the fact that my previous strategy with driving traffic to my websites using Facebook pages was sound. At the time I was using this strategy I had been working online for 12 years i.e. I was not some gung-ho beginner who was just throwing money at a project. I generated a few thousand pounds from Google Adsense and would have broken even within a few months.
I had analysed everything. I was tracking money spent, the number of likes my pages had, the number of visitors sent to my websites, and the number of visitors who clicked on ads.
However, there was one major thing that I failed to consider.
This whole strategy was based on Facebook. It was their territory. I was playing by their rules. And they reminded me of this when the posts from my Facebook pages suddenly started showing on 4% or 5% of users feeds compared to 100% previously.
Everyone was affected by this change, which is why I am surprised no advertisers took them to court as their initial promises of views and growth etc all failed to materialise.
Building Foundations on Shaky Ground
I have advised beginners to stay away from services such as Blogger and HubPages because you do not own the content. These services can, and will, change the rules and possibly delete your account if you appear to break any of their rules.
I have spoken many times about the risks of building success on third-party platforms in which you do not have full control. The reason I am speaking about this subject again is because Michael Kwan published a blog post two days ago on John Chow's blog entitled “Don’t Build Your Internet Business on Rented Land“.
In the article Michael spoke about the risks of relying on third-party services for your own success, be it Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, YouTube, or whoever.
My days of advertising on Facebook have been over for a long time, however Michael's article reminded me of the risks of relying on social media services to generate traffic and income.
This is a concern for me as I am hoping to be successful on YouTube. I want my YouTube channel to grow to thousands of subscribers and generate income for me every month.
I have no immediate plans for YouTube to be my main source of income online. But what if my channel grows to a position in which it is better for me to devote my time to my channel than other online endeavours?
I will be tasked with the decision of spreading my risk and maintaining all of my projects, or putting more energy into something that has potential to make me much more money than my other projects combined.
I know myself that if I reached the point where I was making good money with YouTube, I would probably lean towards devoting more time to it so that it becomes even more successful.
However, I need to be aware of the risks of doing so.
I would be putting most of my eggs into one basket. I would be placing my trust in Google; a company that has been known to deactivate Google Adsense accounts with no explanation. A company that has deactivated YouTube channels because of copyright infringement.
To their credit, Google seem to be pretty fair with YouTube users about deactivation. It only seems to be users who infringe copyright laws frequently that get banned. Still, that risk of having your success taken away from you is always going to be there.
I think the key with building success with third-party services is cross-promotion.
Use Twitter to push visitors to your newsletter sign-up page. Use Facebook to encourage people to join your discussion forum. Use YouTube to promote your website and/or services.
The goal for all of us should be to be driving traffic to our websites, services, and products, from a number of different sources. Search engines, social media service, video services, newsletters, and more. If we do it successfully, then the machine can still keep on running if one cog is removed.
What's your thoughts on this issue? I would love to hear your opinion so please leave a comment below if you have time :)
Thanks for reading.