Popular Brand Leaves Facebook, Will Others Follow?

Popular Brand Leaves Facebook, Will Others Follow?

By Chris Crum
Wednesday, April 02, 2014         
Could we be seeing the beginning of a brand revolt against Facebook? Facebook is so huge, that it’s unlikely that it will amount to a mass exodus, but the tensions between brands and Facebook seem to be approaching a boiling point. At least one has had enough, and has left Facebook.

We’re talking about a brand that had over 70,000 likes, so it’s not exactly a nobody. Eat24 wrote a “break-up letter” to the social network expressing the same frustrations we’re hearing every day now. Facebook is killing organic reach, and is forcing brands to pay for exposure after years of serving as an invaluable way for anyone to build a following and get messages to fans for free.

Here are a few samples from the letter:

…your algorithm is saying most of our friends don't care about sushi porn, that they aren't interested in hearing our deepest thoughts about pizza toppings. Are you listening to yourself? Do you know how ridiculous that sounds? You know that all those people clicked 'Like' on our page because it's full of provocatively posed burritos and cheese puns, right?

Truth be told, your actions make us feel like you don't respect us….All we do is give, and all you do is take. We give you text posts, delicious food photos, coupons, restaurant recommendations… and what do you do in return? You take them and you hide them from all our friends. Maybe you steal our random musings about pork buns and claim them as your own. Guess we'll never know.

Even if we could figure out your mysterious, all-knowing algorithm, it's constantly changing, so what works today might not work tomorrow. Posting something that most of our friends see is like biting into a burrito and actually getting all seven layers…never gonna happen. The point is, you're wasting our time and cock-blocking food porn from our friends. Not cool, Facebook, not cool.

But the bigger picture issue is that we can't trust you. You lied to us and said you were a social network but you're totally not a social network. At least not anymore. When we log in to Facebook, we want to see what Aunt Judy is doing next weekend (hopefully baking us cupcakes) and read hilarious headlines from The Onion and see pictures of a cat who got his head stuck in the couch cushions.

You get the idea. Hell, you’re probably going through something similar (unless you’re Buzzfeed or a few other white-listed sites that Facebook has deemed to be of “quality”).

Eat24 said it would delete its Facebook presence at 11:59 P.M. on Monday night. Sure enough, it’s gone. If you search for it on Facebook, it shows up in the results preview, but when you click on it, you’re simply redirected to the homepage.

Facebook’s Brandon McCormick responded to the letter by saying: “Hey Eat24, this is Brandon over at Facebook. I was bummed to read your letter. The world is so much more complicated than when we first met – it has changed. And we used to love your jokes about tacquitos and 420 but now they don't seem so funny. There is some serious stuff happening in the world and one of my best friends just had a baby and another one just took the best photo of his homemade cupcakes and what we have come to realize is people care about those things more than sushi porn (but if we are in the mood for it, we know where to find it Eat24!). So we are sorry that we have to part this way because we think we could still be friends – really we do. But we totally respect you if you need some space.”

So, Facebook’s response to brands is basically, “Oh, you don’t like it? That sucks. See you later.” You have to wonder if that would be the case if a substantial number of brands did the same thing Eater24 is doing. I don’t expect that to actually happen, but what would Facebook do?

Facebook wants to be a newspaper, apparently. At least that’s what everyone keeps saying, and some of their recent moves have reflected that. But being a source of news for consumers is a by-product of what Facebook started out as – a social network. A way to connect people (which just happened to include brands). Now it seems to be more about trying to dictate what content it thinks people should be consuming (regardless of whether or not it comes from Pages that users have actually “liked”). To be fair, Facebook has said in the past that it’s “not a social network”.

As mentioned, Eat24 had over 70,000 Facebook likes, and over 2,000 of them liked the post about dropping Facebook. It was interesting to read the comments on that.

Christy Cannariato, for example, said, “As the administrator of a page for a nonprofit — hello, no budget for promoting posts, FB! — I applaud you and understand exactly what you’re talking about. I am a regular customer of Eat24 but never once had one of your posts come into my newsfeed….until this one. Got all your tweets, though!”

Yes, the more Facebook shuts brands out of the News Feed, the more Twitter stands to gain. Hopefully Twitter won’t follow a similar path.

Tim Skellenger wrote, "I hope more companies join this and Facebook gets the message! Small business owners, musicians and many other entities rely on building our fan base so that we can ACTUALLY communicate with our fans. If we wanted to buy advertising we would. We already paid, we paid with all our time put into gaining followers for years and years.”

Jon Krop wrote, “I’ll keep using your service regardless of you being on Facebook or not. In fact I usually just use your App or go directly to your site when I’m hungry …probably because I rarely see your posts on my Facebook feed.”

There’s an important point there. You can’t rely on third-parties to keep your business alive. People relied on Google for years, and found out the hard way, so now some of them are trying to build Google-proof businesses. Some, however, turned to services like Facebook and Twitter to fill the void. The problem with that is (which we’re now seeing) that these services can suddenly change the game too, and you may find yourself out of luck.

If you can make it on your own, do it.



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