Leaving Facebook was Copyblogger's Biggest Mistake Yet!.. (facepalm)
Every change to the Facebook algorithm causes new headaches for business owners.
But that doesn’t mean you abandon Facebook!!
It’s how you ADJUST to the changes that separates the good marketers from the bad ones.
That’s why marketers were stunned recently when Copyblogger killed their Facebook page.
Yes, you read that correctly — Copyblogger ACTUALLY deleted their Facebook page!
And it was a HUGE mistake!
In this article, I explain the reasoning Copyblogger gave for leaving Facebook — and why I think leaving Facebook was one of the company’s biggest mistakes yet.
I even issue a challenge at the end of this post — because I want to see Copyblogger bring the page back.
And after reading this article, I think you will too.
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Leaving Facebook was Copyblogger’s Biggest Mistake Yet!.. (facepalm)
Here’s how the announcement played on different social media websites:
Why Copyblogger Is Killing Its Facebook Page: http://t.co/yMVw03B2BJ
— Copyblogger (@copyblogger) October 17, 2014
I’m in the mood to do something drastic, like delete the Copyblogger Facebook page. — Brian Clark (@brianclark) October 17, 2014
Blogger Erika Napoletano explained why the Facebook page was deleted in an article on Copyblogger:
Why Copyblogger Deleted the Facebook Page
Copyblogger officials said the Facebook page was not helping the company — and that’s why the page was deleted.
I referenced important passages from the Copyblogger article throughout this post:
Fan Numbers Mean Jack
First, the page had an overwhelming number of junk fans. These are accounts with little to no personal status update activity that just go around ‘Liking’ Facebook pages. They’re essentially accounts tied to ‘click farms’ — ones paid pennies for every Facebook page they Like.
In other words, these fans are useless to your brand. Why? Because fake fans damage the visibility of your posts in Facebook’s algorithms. I spent over a week cleaning up these junk accounts and also placed geographical limiters on the page to avoid accumulating any more of these fans.
That’s right, Copyblogger blocked entire countries.
They claimed they never bought fake Likes & blamed “useless” fans on so-called Like farms.
Erika wrote about the Copyblogger Facebook strategy before she was hired last July to oversee the page:
Before I came along, Facebook hadn’t been a brand darling for Copyblogger. Since Facebook was never a preferred social media outlet, my job was to:
- Evaluate the fans of the page.
- Assess those fans’ content preferences and build a strategy based on those preferences.
- Explore the possibility of creating a culture of regular, enthusiastic participation (which is what Copyblogger is all about — everywhere)
Erika detailed her strategy for the Copyblogger page:
Here are the types of posts we experimented with next:
- Sharable Graphics: We used quotes from some of our most popular blog posts and turned those into graphics. We then linked to the blog. We found that people liked the photos but didn’t see any increase in clicks to the posts.
- Forced Shares: My personal brand audience on Facebook loves Copyblogger. So I did some forced shares (read: I shared Copyblogger posts I love directly to my brand page). These were eaten alive, devoured, and reshared. While a smashing result, a brand’s Facebook strategy can’t thrive on someone like me sharing every blog post. The posts I didn’t force share just sat there with an average of six to seven “Likes.” Ew.
- Questions: We asked the audience questions. Our most notable? Letting the Facebook audience ask the Copyblogger team anything they wanted. Out of 30,000 people, we received three questions. Pass.
In her article, Erika compared fan engagement on the page to engagement levels on 2 other pages: Erika’s popular business page & a Facebook page called “Your Boulder” — about happenings in Boulder, Colorado.
As soon as we lined up the statistics side by side, it was clear that we were comparing apples and Toyotas. Oranges didn’t even show up on the radar. Here are some comparable statistics: Whugga. So, you may be saying, ‘But Erika, these are different types of pages. Different brands. Different audiences! How can data from one mean anything for any of the others?’ Simple. It shows Copyblogger that, despite good intentions, best practices, and having a slew of fans, Facebook might not be the best place to invest brand time and energy.
Based on these results, Copyblogger deleted the Facebook page & shifted that marketing effort to social platforms where the company had stronger interaction.
The Copyblogger Google+ community’s statistics blow Facebook away by miles. Twitter is an amazing platform at both the brand level and for many of the individuals in the company (plus, you retweet posts like nobody’s business). And we’re grateful.
Which is why Copyblogger is going to continue putting its energy into those outlets and the Copyblogger membership communities (free and paid). Leaving Facebook gives us more time and resources to focus on the places where you already love interacting with Copyblogger.
You’ve told us loud and clear that Facebook isn’t your favorite place to find us. We got the message. So, here’s the part where I — as a trusted part of the Copyblogger family who is on call for various projects (and delightfully so) — get to say thank you.
Thank you for letting Copyblogger know where you live … and where you don’t. Thank you for stopping by the page … and for sharing a Like every now and then.
Experts Respond to Copyblogger Deleting the Page
People quickly weighed in with their opinions after Copyblogger deleted the Facebook page.
My initial reaction was… WTF?!
And here’s what other social media pros said about the move:
The debate also burned up Twitter:
Robert Scoble commented on Social Media Examiner’s post:
And Mari Smith had this to say:
Facebook marketers everywhere were shocked that a respected brand with a large following would abandon an entire community. But not everyone condemned the move.
Jay Baer commented on an article by Jon Loomer:
Great post Jon. I know Brian and some of the Copyblogger team, and I know Erika. They are smart. Not sure I would have drawn the same conclusion they did re: killing the page, but what everyone is overlooking is that EVERYTHING in social media (or business) is about opportunity cost, not actual cost. It is literally irrelevant whether they did or could have achieved better results on Facebook. The only thing that matters is whether they are or can achieve better results for their business using finite resources, by doing something other than Facebook.
People that say “they should have done ads” miss the point entirely, because that’s not finite resources, it’s additional resources (both dollars and time). If the decision is to pay for Facebook ads, or to further ramp up their email program, which returns insane ROI (and I’m not suggesting that was the calculus, but it’s probably not far off), then maybe you shouldn’t do Facebook?
I’ll use an offline analogy here. I was having dinner last week with a friend who is a very successful entrepreneur. Many successful, high dollar exits. He now runs an organic farm and raises grass-fed beef. We were talking about angel investing opportunities, and I told him one I’d been looking at was likely to double in value within a year or so. “Double?” he cried. “I can buy cows and feed them, and guarantee a double with no effort or risk.” For him, it’s not about the quality of the individual investment, it’s about whether you can make more money easier, elsewhere.
Copyblogger has a tons of irons in the fire. They are a very successful business. If they believe they can better use their resources in a different fashion, that doesn’t mean they suck at Facebook or lack imagination or vision. It simply means that they are looking at their business holistically, and deploying assets in the places where they can win. Why run uphill when there are plenty of downhill slopes?
Let’s remember that the goal is not to be good at social media. The goal is to be good at business because of social media. Copyblogger may be worthy of praise for keeping that axiom front and center.
Juicy Copyblogger Facebook Stats
Let’s look at some Copyblogger stats.
First off, the Facebook page had more than 38k Likes!
Chicago was the most engaged city & most people who interacted with the page were between 25 & 34 years old:
More than 500 people Liked the page in the week before it was deleted!
Jon Loomer used Quantcast to find some intriguing web traffic data about Copyblogger. India (a country Copyblogger deemed “useless”) accounted for nearly 6% of the company’s total web traffic.
Fans from countries banned by Copyblogger generated more than 8% of Copyblogger’s web traffic!
That’s about 37,000 people a month who Copyblogger labeled as useless — ouch!
According to Alexa, India accounts for 13.7% of all visitors to the Copyblogger website — just behind the United States.
Loomer also used Facebook Audience Insights to dig into Copyblogger’s fan base.
He found that almost 3,000 of the nearly 39k Likes on Copyblogger’s page came from banned countries Erika mentioned in her article.
And Loomer made these other interesting discoveries:
- 51% of Likes on the page were women
- Likes on the page were considered “Highly Educated”
- Those who Liked the page Liked other tech & social media pages
- 48% of the Likes were in the US
- Users who Liked Copyblogger earned higher than average incomes
According to Alexa, Facebook drove more than 3% of Copyblogger’s overall website traffic:
That’s just under 14,000 people visiting the site each month from Facebook!
(Note: all that traffic didn’t come from Copyblogger’s page)
Copyblogger’s Posting Strategy
Before Copyblogger’s page went dark, I gathered screenshots of the posts & made videos to document content on the page.
Though poorly executed, many of these posts were interesting to dissect.
For the most part, posts in 2014 went something like this:
This was often the kind of stuff Copyblogger posted on the page:
Only 23 photos were posted on the page between April 17 and September 5.
No photos were posted between September 5 and when the page was deleted October 17.
Copyblogger’s Facebook photos are shown in this slide show:
Sadly, almost every photo had a link in the text description. (I’ll tell you why this is bad in a minute)
Erika admitted the Copyblogger page was awful when she took over in July. She posted this comment on Jon Loomer’s article:
Absolutely terrifying, isn’t it? This is what the page looked like when I was asked to come onto the project. Here’s what happened at the commencement of our 3-month project:
* Autoposting stopped. I insisted on everything posting 100% manually because um…BRAND and NO BRAINER.
* We established baseline analytics from Insights and GA.
* We set out to identify different types of posts we’d like to try, ranging from simple blog posts to images to images with links, to questions.
* We also set out to understand where each type of post would drive traffic (on Facebook or off Facebook) so we could understand page fan behaviors and preferences. Every type of post has its nuance, so we dug into those stat to see how to best move forward.
So, you’re 100% correct about the (ugh/wow) factor on Copyblogger’s previous practice of autoposting. Thanks for sharing the screenshots because they do help understand where we were starting from.
This video shows Copyblogger’s Facebook posts just before the page was removed. (please view it before you read why I think deleting the page was a huge mistake)
Why Deleting the Facebook Page Was a Huge Mistake
So far I’ve shown you lots of evidence from the Copyblogger Facebook page:
- Like Count
- Where Fans Live
- Website Traffic
Now let’s look more closely at why Copyblogger staffers said they deleted the page:
- Junk Likes
- Low engagement
Sorry, but labeling all fans from countries like Bangladesh, India & Pakistan as “junk” Likes is ludicrous.
What about all the web traffic Copyblogger gets from those countries?
These comments were posted on Loomer’s Copyblogger article:
I was stunned to find India labeled as [a] Spam country. — Priyanka Dalal
Excellent piece Jon. But all insights and recommendations got faded away quickly as I am still stuck at reading my country’s name under the “undesirable list of countries”. I am from Pakistan and digital marketing is flourishing here. We have loads of individuals who are doing some excellent work in this field. Yet it makes me feel sad that almost all of [the] top guys from digital marketing and social media put my country’s name under that list. I know they do this because the number of spammers, fake accounts is huge but still. I hope people like me who want to learn from you guys will surpass the number of fake accounts soon. *Feeling optimistic*. — Aseem Jibran
I second that @Aseem. I wish soon we work off those fake accounts. — Sabih Ahmed
I am from Egypt… works in digital marketing and I do have real interest in content marketing. ..so I cant be considered as fake fan. I believe they made a huge mistake. .. — Karim Abd El Kader
These are real people with real Facebook profiles. Copyblogger might have turned some of them into paying customers.
Are there Like farms with fake profiles? Of course, and every large page has some fake Likes.
But that doesn’t mean you exclude entire countries from interacting with your page!
On the Post Planner Facebook page, India was recently in the top 5 when it came to reach.
What if we blocked everyone from India from seeing our page?!
Copyblogger was correct about one thing: hardly anyone engaged with their Facebook posts!
Most posts got just a handful of comments & Likes — and sorry again, but Copyblogger only has its terrible posting strategy to blame.
Awful Posting Strategy
Before Erika took over, almost every Copyblogger post consisted of boring text with a link:
The same thing over & over (with an occasional image):
Remember, this was Erika’s stated focus after she took over the page:
- Sharable Graphics
- Forced Shares
Let’s analyze her strategy.
The graphics weren’t bad, but the way content was posted was all wrong.
Take this post for example:
The image was great — it’s the post description that needed work.
Copyblogger needed to lose those raw, UGLY links!
Including a URL in a post description:
- makes the post look ugly & unnatural
- is not likely to get someone to click
- could cause Facebook to penalize your content in the news feed
In fact, a recent Facebook algorithm change penalized photo posts with links in the descriptions. Here’s what Facebook said:
We’ve found that people often prefer to click on links that are displayed in the link format (which appears when you paste a link while drafting a post), rather than links that are buried in photo captions. The link format shows some additional information associated with the link, such as the beginning of the article, which makes it easier for someone to decide if they want to click through. This format also makes it easier for someone to click through on mobile devices, which have a smaller screen.
With this update, we will prioritize showing links in the link-format, and show fewer links shared in captions or status updates.
The best way to share a link after these updates will be to use the link format. In our studies, these posts have received twice as many clicks compared to links embedded in photo captions. In general, we recommend that you use the story type that best fits the message that you want to tell – whether that’s a status, photo, link or video.
The most savvy Facebook marketers pay close attention to algorithm changes & adjust their posting strategies accordingly.
I don’t have a reliable way to evaluate Copyblogger’s “forced shares”.
My guess is that Erika shared Copyblogger posts on her popular Facebook page.
But she admitted that strategy wouldn’t last:
While a smashing result, a brand’s Facebook strategy can’t thrive on someone like me sharing every blog post.
I only found one question on the page:
Copyblogger Page was Mismanaged
Copyblogger staffers claimed their audience doesn’t live on Facebook.
We all might love Facebook for a wide variety of reasons, but that means jack if our audiences don’t interact with us on Facebook.
It’s not our job to tell our audience where we live. It’s to grow communities where they live.
You’ve told us loud and clear that Facebook isn’t your favorite place to find us. We got the message.
But I don’t buy it!
Copyblogger neglected the page… plain & simple!
The numbers (web traffic, Like count, etc) show that Copyblogger’s audience IS on Facebook.
And many of my most influential Facebook friends Liked the Copyblogger page:
What I’d Do Differently
Here’s what I’d do differently if I were in charge of Copyblogger’s page:
- I wouldn’t give up on Facebook & my followers
- I would run at least one Facebook ad per day
- I would post at least 6 times per day
- I would post 50% photos
- I would post one or 2-3 properly formatted link posts per day (including Copyblogger’s MASSIVE backlog of evergreen content!)
- I would promote the page on Google+ and Twitter
- I would include a link to the page in my email marketing
- I would share posts from influencers in my industry & tag them on the page
- I would ask influential people to share posts
- I wouldn’t blame Facebook
Would these 10 things have made a difference?
It’s worth a try!
My Challenge to Copyblogger
Ok, I’ll just say it…
Had the team at Post Planner taken over the Copyblogger page, the page’s Facebook engagement would have skyrocketed!
>> Click to Tweet <<
We normally don’t manage Facebook pages for others — but I have a challenge for Brian Clark & Copyblogger:
Let Post Planner run your page for 90 days!
We’ll measure results based on Likes, comments, shares & web traffic. If numbers in these categories don’t double under our watch, I’ll fly to Boulder & buy Brian a beer at his favorite bar!
If we hit the goal, Brian buys me lunch in Gatesville, Texas.
Are you up to the challenge, Brian?