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Facebook and The Malling of America

Posted by Jeff Davis on Mon, Mar 02, 2015 @ 03:40 PM

With the ongoing changes to Facebook, (Facebook Throttles Back Organic Reach...) I had a flashback to "The Malling of America".  In 1985 Charles Kuralt was quoted as saying "Twenty-five years ago, they weren’t here. Today they’re everywhere. What used to be farms or woods or country crossroads have become malls."

I had a front row seat to the "malling of America".  At the time I was working for Hickory Farms. Malls were falling over themselves to get Hickory Farms to open a retail store in their mall.  At the apex, we had 600 full time stores.  But as the developers filled their shopping centers, the power shifted. They still wanted national retail chains, only now they wanted them on their terms.  Rents escalated. Store design criteria changed - "We think your store should look like..." "Perhaps we can find room for you on the other side of the mall.  In the corridor leading to the petting zoo..."

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And they could get away with it because they owned the real estate.  We were merely renters.

It occurred to me recently that this is the same struggle we have today with Facebook. "Come build you business with us! Everyone is welcome" said Facebook. 

But over the last 12 months, Facebook has changed its strategy.  In an effort to boost revenue, they started throttling back the number of followers who could see your postings. It used to be that your posts were shown to everyone who choose to follow you. Now if you post a message, only about 16% of your followers have a chance to see it.  Your options are to post the same message later and hope different viewers see it or you can boost your post by paying for additional feeds to your followers.

Now they are saying that News Feeds can longer look like or contain any elements of an advertisement.  "This is why we offer paid ads."

So we are back in the mall. Anytime you don't own the real estate, you are at the mercy of the landlord.  

While Facebook can still be a part of your marketing strategy (and there are a myriad of reasons to include it - reach, relatively low CPC and CPM, incredible targeting) I caution against allowing it to become your sole marketing program.

I still meet with business owners who are investing heavily in their Facebook presence while ignoring their own web site.  

Buyer (or lessee) beware.  

Interesting story came out after I posted this...

Forrester is advising marketers not to use Facebook if they want to build social relationships with their customers. 

Topics: digital advertising, Facebook, digital marketing, marketing


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