Remember when one of the first things a business would do after setting up their website was to create a Facebook page? Well, according to marketing consultant Jenny Karn, this may be a thing of the past. This includes businesses currently using Facebook who have noticed their posts generating lower levels of engagement, leaving them wondering if their target audience is even seeing their posts.
Rich: My guest today began her communications career in journalism 15 years ago but was quickly hooked by the fast-paced world of marketing. Those newsroom skills she picked up, storytelling, clear communication, and attention to detail, stayed with her as she led countless digital projects for global brands like Google, the NBA, ESPN, and Forbes.
Last year she co-founded a communications agency, Lumino, after helping launch and grow two niche consulting firms. She now focuses on improving brand communication internally and externally. Today we’re going to try and answer the question of whether you should delete your Facebook page or not with Jenny Karn. Jenny, welcome to the program.
Jenny: Hello, thank you for having me.
Rich: So before we get to the elephant in the room, I’m curious. Was there a specific event that caused you to move from journalism to marketing, or was it just a series of happenings that kind of nudged you in?
Jenny: Well, I graduated from college with a print journalism degree in 2008, which was not a great time for any industry, certainly not print journalism. So I got laid off pretty quickly from my first newspaper job, and then worked at several different community newspapers. I found myself in a web editor position at the ripe age of 23 and was teaching all of these reporters how to use Facebook to get great stories from their readers and realized that if I’m going to focus on Facebook and help businesses learn it, there were probably more profitable businesses than the newspapers to teach it to. And that’s how I found myself in the consulting world.
Rich: Excellent. All right. So let’s talk about this bold statement of yours. This column that you wrote for Entrepreneur magazine called, Corporations – Delete Your Facebook Page. Why do you feel companies should drop Facebook? Isn’t that where our audience hangs out?
Jenny: Well, yes. And I do love Facebook. I’m still a user myself. And I think that there are a lot of businesses that should continue to use Facebook. But if you’re a large B2B corporation and you are spending calories creating Facebook content that no one is looking at, no one is engaging with, no one is clicking on it, I just want to give you a pass and let you know that in 2022, you’re allowed to stop that. You don’t have to keep feeding that Facebook beast just because you feel like you’re supposed to, or because five years ago it was getting you some results. We’ve seen organic reach just continue to plummet, and people on Facebook are not really looking for B2B content. Those people are on LinkedIn and they’re hungry for content there. So let’s give the people what they want, where they want it, rather than trying to stick with Facebook, because it feels like something we’re supposed to be doing.
Rich: By the way did you say spending calories?
Jenny: I did.
Rich: It’s brilliant, and I’m absolutely stealing that from now on. That is my new favorite thing to explain how to do that. It’s also interesting because so many corporations, and especially small to medium-sized businesses, are so quick to jump on to new platforms like a TikTok, or what have you, and yet we seem really hesitant to drop anything to make room for that activity. Can you speak to that at all?
Jenny: Yes, that’s absolutely what we’re seeing. As the analytics reports continue showing LinkedIn is more valuable, is sending higher quality traffic, is sending more traffic, it is reaching more of the people we want to talk to. We keep seeing that, but no one wants to let go of Facebook because it feels like you’re supposed to be there. But I think you’re so right. People are excited to try new things, but they just want to add and never take anything away. And the result is that you have this Facebook page that either you’re spending a lot of calories feeding that beast, or it becomes an abandoned platform where you’re not really doing anything with it and it’s just sitting there. And then it becomes a bit of a liability if no one’s man monitoring it or managing it or looking at it closely. Say you have some big news story break about some sort of controversy within your company. That’s a whole channel now with all of these posts that people could go back and look at, could comment on, could share. And if it’s not something that you’re regularly tending to, that can be a big liability for the brand.
Rich: It’s interesting. Facebook business pages at this point may have become the Yellow Pages of a decade or two ago, where it’s like people are afraid to let go, but maybe it’s just time. But aren’t there any benefits to keeping your Facebook page going? Obviously, it does take time and energy and calories, but are there any benefits you can see for? And so far we’ve talked about corporations. So I’m thinking about the bigger corporations. Can you make any argument that they should keep their pages going?
Jenny: So I definitely think if you have a lot of positive reviews, it would be really hard to delete that. Anytime you have a platform with a lot of good social proof, you don’t want to erase that from the internet. So I can understand that. If you have a robust analytics report that is showing you that Facebook is moving the needle still for you, please ignore this advice. You are savvy enough to know what you’re doing, and you have proof that it’s working. But for those corporate marketers who aren’t sure or don’t know the answer to whether Facebook is working, that’s who I think really needs to hear this message.
I definitely think local businesses should still have their Facebook. You know, bars, restaurants, things like that, people are looking for reviews there. People expect you to show up there. But yeah, large corporations are less likely. The exception I would say is talent acquisition. I have worked with several large brands, and they are successful using Facebook to find potential employees. So that could be a really good channel. But maybe marketing doesn’t need to own it. Maybe you hand the keys over to HR and talent acquisition.
Rich: That’s interesting. And I agree with you. I’ve had these conversations with some of our bigger clients, especially in the B2B realm, and they want us to work on their Facebook page, but none of their customers would necessarily want to go there to learn anything at that point. But I think your point of talent acquisition and recruitment, showing people what it’s like to work in your business might be a good way of doing it. If you’re in a big corporation, you may have an HR department. If you’re small like us, you probably don’t have a department for anything, but just everybody shares the work.
I’m also wondering about things like, and again this might go to your point about small local businesses, but another thing that can be beneficial I think for Facebook, is showing how you’re part of the community. So is there an opportunity there to maybe show some of your good work, but it may not be your marketing message per se?
Jenny: Yeah, I think that your corporate social responsibility content could live on Facebook. But I still think that could be part of talent acquisition. You know, that is very important to employees current and prospective, I would think. I think that content can also live on LinkedIn though, that you want to tell that community building story there as well.
Rich: All right. So that kind of gets me to the point. So let’s say that we’re willing to… actually, before we even get to that, so let’s say where we’re spending all this energy, we’re not getting any results. Maybe we don’t need to worry about talent acquisition, although in this day and age, who doesn’t. Why don’t we just put a pause on our Facebook because maybe Facebook becomes important again down the road. Like, why wouldn’t we just kind of make it quiet? Why do you recommend instead of deleting it entirely?
Jenny: That goes back to the liability point that I raised earlier. If you have a platform out there where anyone can post comments on your content that you’re not actively monitoring, you are leaving yourself open to some embarrassing potentials where people can go find an old post and suddenly light it up. That’s something that my team does quite a bit of. We monitor all across the internet for mentions for different brands. A lot of brands are more interested in what others are saying about them online than even what they say about themselves. So that’s an area that we’ve really tried to focus on. And we do see that a news story will light a fire under people about some particular topic. And you have an old tweet or an old Facebook post about it that people can suddenly start screenshotting and sharing and referring back to. So it’s just, it’s a liability.
Rich: Okay. So you obviously work with a lot of corporate clients. What are you telling them to do if they decide it is time to cut their ties to Facebook?
Jenny: So I want desperately to just go all in on LinkedIn and say, let’s make LinkedIn our primary channel, but I need LinkedIn to help us out.
Rich: 100% plus 1, yes. Okay. Tell me what you want LinkedIn to do, and tell me what you’re telling your clients.
Jenny: So what I need LinkedIn to do is give us analytics about our competitors. Every brand I work with is so interested in benchmarking. How am I doing among my peers, among my competitors, among the industry. And because LinkedIn only shows your page analytics when you are the admin, I can’t really tell you how their reach is or what their engagement rates are. So it makes it really difficult. And so then we try and use other social platforms as a proxy, how we compare on Twitter, how we compare on Facebook, and it just doesn’t matter. But that’s not where we’re really trying to convince and convert audiences that matter to us. So it just feels like the analytics report is a lot of smoke and mirrors, and it’s because LinkedIn won’t give us that really important info. So that would be the number one thing.
Rich: You’re getting that kind of information from Twitter, though. And I guess this is where I used to love Twitter, and I’ve been less active in the last few years on it. So is Twitter giving you that kind of industry comparison in your analytics?
Jenny: Yes, Twitter’s fire hose is open and so you can see those metrics for any account, not just the ones that you have a login for. Same with Facebook, same with Instagram, but LinkedIn does not. And so it doesn’t matter what analytics tool you’re using, it will only show you your LinkedIn stats. It won’t show you competitor stats.
Rich: And the other complaint I would have about LinkedIn is just that for a B2B social channel, their company pages suck. There’s just not a lot you can do with it. There’s not a lot of engagement. It still tends to be a very person to person platform, which is great. But at the same time, if they are pretending to be a B2B platform, then companies, brands should have a little bit more visibility and more tools to promote themselves outside of just spending ad dollars, I would think.
Jenny: Yes. I agree with that. I also think the documentation for this is harder to come by. But it’s pretty common knowledge that LinkedIn does not like link previews as posts. They would much prefer you keep people on their platform. So you see all the influencers do it, they point to the link in the first comment, but they don’t actually share it in the post. And for brands that’s really tough. It’s really hard to show clicks to the website from LinkedIn when we know that we’re actually limiting our reach anytime we put up a link preview. So you’re really torn. Do you want more people to see it, or do you want more people to click on it? And you really have to make that decision as you’re creating your content. So that’s another change that I would love LinkedIn to make, is to not penalize link preview so much so that we can get those results and make our analytics reports absolutely demonstrate what we all believe to be the case. Which is LinkedIn is the best place to reach our audiences in the B2B world.
Rich: All right. How about some other platforms out there? Obviously Instagram is popular, although we don’t think of it commonly as a B2B platform. You mentioned Twitter used to be amazing and maybe will shine again. Where are you pointing your clients besides LinkedIn if you are convincing them that Facebook should be closed or at least moved into another department?
Jenny: Instagram is great for visuals, but it does not work well for stock photography. So it’s been very difficult, especially in this remote COVID world, where getting events or photos of people at work is really difficult. But I think it’s a great platform for talent acquisition and employee relations. You can really see what it’s like to work at the company when you’re sharing authentic imagery on an Instagram account. So I do think that is a great platform for that kind of content, and that’s what we’re recommending.
Twitter is good for getting news out and interacting with media. That’s really still a great place that journalists are going for story ideas, to break news, to find news, to distribute news. So it’s really important for your media relations to be plugged into your Twitter.
Rich: All right. Any other platforms that you are sending people to? Those are some good ones, but I’m just wondering if there’s any creative or out there platforms like SlideShare? Remember when we used to talk about SlideShare?
Jenny: That is an account that I should maybe go and check on, speaking from liability. I might have some old content recommending Facebook there. But yeah, TikTok you’ve mentioned here, I think that with the right strategy, that could be a good talent acquisition play as well if you’re trying to hire a younger generation, for instance. But you have to follow the rules of the platform, that’s always the social media advice, right? You have to show up to the party like you belong there, not like you’re a brand crashing someone else’s party. So proceed with TikTok only if you’re ready to be a little bit goofy, a little bit silly, definitely authentic and candid, and not so buttoned up and polished as you would be on your LinkedIn.
And then Pinterest has been a really great platform in the past in terms of generating clicks and having a really long shelf life. But it really depends on what type of brand you are. If you’re selling vacations, or bridal, or food, that’s a great platform, but it’s not going to be for every business.
Rich: So what would Facebook have to do to get you to reverse your opinion of it?
Jenny: Oh, that’s a great question. I think on Facebook it’s less about the platform and what it’s doing, and it’s more about what users want on Facebook. But people just aren’t there for business content typically. So I’m not sure that Facebook could make a change. I suppose if we could target with some really specific, career-related information, perhaps we’d give it another try and really just focus on the paid side. But the targeting there just does not compare to what LinkedIn will give us. You know, how long people have worked in a certain role in whether they’re business decision makers, that kind of stuff.
Rich: And when we’ve been talking about organic Facebook, as in a Facebook page, but obviously Facebook advertising is a very popular platform for B2B and B2C. Are you recommending that your clients specifically stop advertising on Facebook, too? Or is that one area where you could see, even if you are shuttering your page, it might still make sense to be running some ads.
Jenny: If your analytics are showing you that you’re getting traction, keep doing it. And hopefully if you’re spending budget, you have robust enough analytics that you can see whether it’s moving the needle or not. But yeah, I would say paid is always going to be a different story, but I’m primarily talking about the organic content.
Rich: All right. Now Lumino is a communication consulting firm. You do a lot with online brand reputation management. Some people might argue that Facebook is a great place to tell your story, even if you’re not getting a lot of engagement. But obviously, you still have concerns. What are your concerns about that? And what would you say to somebody that says, “But yes, but if I do need to tell my side of the story, Facebook is a great place to do it”?
Jenny: Well, I would just ask how they know that. Because I think that there are other places to tell a great story. And you don’t need Facebook to do it. I certainly think you can tell that story on LinkedIn. I think Instagram can be a really great channel. Obviously, you have your website, but Facebook doesn’t have to be part of the strategy.
Rich: All right. When we’re recording this, we’re coming up on the end of the year 2021. And looking into your crystal ball for B2B companies who are looking to do a better job marketing and reaching their audience, what are some of the things you think we’re going to see more of in 2022 and beyond when it comes to digital marketing?
Jenny: Oh, that’s a great question. I think that this goes back to something we were talking about before we started recording. I think people are hungry for that in-person again. We’re really tired of webinars, and digital everything, Zoom. I can see it just in the calls I have with my client partners. At the beginning of the year, 100% on video. Now it’s very rare to join a call and everyone isn’t on video, and people are just exhausted by it. So I do think that there is a strong desire to return to more of that in-person. But now we have the new variant, and there are a lot of question marks. So I’m not sure that 2022 will be the year we get to return. But maybe that’ll just mean even bigger 2023 for it.
Rich: Absolutely. Jenny, this has been fantastic. If people want to learn more about, you learn more about Lumino, where can we send them online?
Jenny: Yeah, we have a website just redesigned in the past week actually, luminodigital.com. We help brands with not just social media, but also Wikipedia, which is a very specific area that if you need help it can be hard to find. So I’ve got some colleagues who really specialize in that and can help answer any questions. And then we also just generally help with your Google presence, kind of figuring out what’s powering different parts of your search results, your knowledge panel, and ‘people also ask’ graphs, things like that. And it helps you backtrack to figure out what you need to change in order to improve that experience.
Rich: Awesome. And okay, but now I have one extra question because I wasn’t expecting you to say Wikipedia. So give me an example of how you work with a brand to help them through Wikipedia. What kind of work exactly might you do?
Jenny: Yes. So we can help create new articles or improve existing articles. Everyone’s heard of Wikipedia as the encyclopedia anyone can edit. Which is true. You can edit your Wiki article yourself, but it rarely sticks. There’s a robust volunteer community of editors who are constantly going through Wikipedia and improving different articles. They will set watch lists, so they get notifications when certain pages are changed. And they can tell when a corporate marketer or comms person has come in and added company verbiage to an article, and they’ll revert the changes.
So we have, for the past 10 years, my colleagues have cracked the code to Wikipedia. And we work within all of Wikipedia guidelines, conflict of interest guidelines and others. And we never take edits live ourselves. We work with the volunteer editor community to take drafts live. And we also do a lot of training with our clients so that they can actually work with the editor community as well directly. And the result takes a bit more time, but the changes stick. So that’s something that we’re really passionate about, trying to educate people and make sure that they do Wikipedia the right way.
Rich: Fascinating tidbit. I did not know that about you. Well, Jenny, this has been great, and I really appreciate you coming by today and sharing all this information with us.
Jenny: Thanks so much for having me. This was a blast.
Jenny Karn and the team at Lumino help clients get a better handle on their overall digital presence. Check out the website for the full array of services they offer, and connect with Jenny on LinkedIn.
Rich Brooks is the President of flyte new media, a web design & digital marketing agency in Portland, Maine, and founder of the Agents of Change. He’s passionate about helping small businesses grow online and has put his 20+ years of experience into the book, The Lead Machine: The Small Business Guide to Digital Marketing.