Is Facebook dying? 4 reasons why it's outlook is bleak

Being such visual platforms, Facebook and Instagram are considered essential for many Hair and Beauty salons.

Instagram and hairdressing in particular make a strong couple; hairdressers use the platform to showcase their work and talent, to great effect.

In fact, in consulting with salon owners I would say there is almost an unhealthy obsession with social media. And I use the term unhealthy because truthfully, so much time and money is wasted in the hair and beauty industries on social media.

I’ve spoken with many a salon owner who thinks that if they are not advertising on social, they are not doing their job properly. Follow the masses…. FOMO is strong.

It's a completely flawed mindset as most business owners are seeing little return on their advertising. The odd new client results... but not many.

Sadly, we are observing an increase in this trend.

Now before I elaborate I want to be clear that this article is NOT to just s*** all over Meta (Facebook and Instagram’s parent company).

For the good part of 10 years they advertising platform has been superb; a game changer that made a lot of businesses a lot of money. Our most successful advertising medium to promote our free eBooks and paid services had been Facebook by a country mile.

I loved using them (yes, I’m using the past tense for a reason, more on that soon).

Facebook advertising has yielded some phenomenal results for our salon clients. Lots of new bookings, lots of new revenue.

But in the past 6 months we’ve noticed an increasingly downward trend with Meta. And that’s not just for results from their advertising platform. Their customer service appears to be getting worse also.

If you are advertising on Facebook and you’re pleased with the results, do not let me create doubt or concern. I certainly don’t pretend to know if all and in fact if there’s one thing I do know, it’s that results from any ad platform can vary massively depending on a number of factors.

This is a generalization, a trend we’ve noticed.  

The ad campaigns, target audiences, offers, copy and ad image formats that we used, that were giving our clients BIG ROI’s seem to be falling flat more and more.

We’re also hearing the same thing directly from business owners running their own ads: they just don’t seem to create the new business that they had reliable created for the past few years.

So what has changed? Here are 4 things, all of which probably are having some effect.

1. Apple’s new privacy policy

Marketers like me tried to deny it. Tried to look for ways to minimise the damage.

But truthfully Apple’s decision to give its customers the option to opt out of pixels "stalking them" then online and taking their data was a huge blow to Facebook.

If you’re not aware of what I’m talking about: if you’re an iPhone or iPad owner, at some point a few months ago with the latest iOS update, you would have been asked by Apple if you wanted your online behaviour (sites visited etc) completely private, or continue giving companies the ability to view and track your behaviour, so they could tailor they advertising to your interests. All done using a “pixel” piece of code.

That has long been Facebook’s secret sauce. It’s retargeting and pixel-related advertising was what made advertisers win big, as they could place ads for their goods or services back in front of people who visited their website, plus allowed Facebook to place highly relevant ads in front of people most like to take interest.

When they consumers choice to opt out of this took effect, an estimated (and predicted) 85% of people chose NOT to have companies continue to follow them around online. Meta almost over-night lost a huge piece of its advertising magic.

It has managed to limit the damage with aggregated (more generalised) conversions, but there’s no denying it’s hurt their platform.

2. It’s becoming saturated

Another big factor we believe is Facebook is starting to become a saturated marketplace. More and more salon owners are spending money with Meta, be it through the ads manager or boosting posts. (With often little to show for it sadly, as I mentioned earlier).

So your ideal new customer is no longer seeing just you, their starting to see you and more and more of your competitors.

Three years ago Kate saw your ad for “50% off for new clients” offer on Facebook and got excited. Now she’s seeing similar offers all the time, and has started turning a blind eye.

If your target audience are seeing hair and beauty offers over and over again, it’s only a matter of time before interest and uptake starts to decrease.

3. Facebook users are now decreasing

Another factor that certainly can’t help is enthusiasm for Facebook and Instagram are decreasing.

Tiktok, for example, is starting to take a bigger piece of the social media pie.

Meta’s share price plummeted no so long ago, for the sole reason that for the first time since it’s inception, the amount of people using Facebook decreased.

Its growth appears to have reached its apex. Frankly, some people are just over being on Facebook or even social media full stop.

There is no doubt Meta has p****d off plenty of people with its past lack of privacy rules. When they got caught sharing people’s private data to companies like Cambridge Analytica, they lost a lot of trust and street cred.

And less people on Facebook means less eyes on your ads.

Concerning share price, of course their fortunes could change. Just one new innovation that takes the world by storm could see them back on the up. Remember these guys started with just Facebook, then bought Instagram AND WhatsApp with huge success.

(Although has to be said, Zuckerberg has now infamously poured a huge amount of money in to the “Metaverse” with little to show for it…. it doesn’t even look close to being something that will usable by consumers any time soon).

All that being said, successful new innovations and products won’t change Meta’s advertising problems.

4. Meta’s customer service sucks

No point sugar-coating it. Meta’s “support” is really, really bad nowadays. We have found that when something goes wrong and we need help, getting that help can be impossible.

Here's a shining example of their shoddiness:

We have our Facebook business ID hacked back in August ’22. The hacker then placed fraudulent ads for a locomotive toy in America on not just our ad account, but a bunch of our client’s ad accounts as well.

It didn’t take long to be discovered and Facebook promptly deactivated all ad accounts, but not before the hacker had managed to spend THOUSANDS of my own and my clients ££££ across our ad accounts.

Cue upset clients and a whole ensuing nightmare getting both their money back and their ad accounts reactivated. It took them almost 6 months to “resolve” the matter by giving me a partial refund. To this day many of the other ad accounts have not been refunded. And now, Facebook have closed the case!

I wouldn’t wish the stress this has caused on my worst enemy.  It has been a shocking display of ineptitude and utter lack of customer care from Meta. And yet, it certainly wasn’t an isolated case.

I have a client whose Facebook page, that has thousands of followers, is “owned” by another Facebook Business ID which belongs to an agency she worked with more than 10 years ago.

She desperate wants to link her page to Shopify to sell products. But as she has lost contact with this agency, she has no way to take control of her own page. After trying for months, Facebook just continues to tell us it’s not possible.

This despite asking for, and receiving, clear proof that she is the rightful owner of the business the page belongs to.

I could continue with more stories like this where Facebook simply refuse to help, take months to resolve an issue, or just hide behind a web of online forums and articles that do not resolve the problem.

Talking to someone at Meta these days can be like pulling teeth.

So when you look at these 4 factors, it’s hard not to predict that unless they make some big changes and improvements, more businesses will start to look elsewhere to advertise.

We have found currently that in the majority of campaigns where we run Google PPC is outperforming social. Google search ads are giving salons a lot more new bookings for their spend.

I have mixed feelings about this possible demise. I’d love for Meta to return to the glory days where we could run ads the customers would pour through our clients doors.

Although at the time of writing this, those days do look more and more like a thing of the past sadly.

….Like months to a flame….

Scott Dance
February 2023

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