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Facebook - "Reports of my death are greatly exaggerated"

facebookSo apparently said Mark Twain on reading his obituary.  So might Facebook say on reading of its demise.

Like the Guardian, Forbes and Daily Mail this site recently carried news of the demise of Facebook.

Facebook is dead and buried to older teens they claimed.  But is it really true? I think not.

The story originated as an EU funded report called the Global Social Media Impact Study and the reporting was valid.  But was the report?   The study  canvassed 16 to 18-year olds in eight countries about their social media usage over a 15 month time period.

And the headline implied Facebook was dead and buried to this age group.  Apparently this age group have responded to the masses old people (those over 20 years old) who have joined Facebook, and the young people have moved on to something cool.  It was claimed that the 16-18 year olds are now using SnapChat, Twitter, WhatsApp and other social media of their choice

Well there is some truth in this .. but it isn't the whole truth and nothing but the truth.   True, social media like SnapChat have really taken off.  True, young people claim not to be using Facebook.

But, if we look at the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, what does the evidence show?  

Well, here is some evidence that shows that the death of Facebook is greatly exaggerated.

I run Facebook advertising campaigns for several clients.  

And the interesting thing is that their target market are school leavers ... those 16-18 year olds that are claimed to be leaving Facebook .. and the results are stunning.     

Take the campaign I'm running for a college in the south of England.  They called me in to help them after five years where student recruitment had fallen year on year and college closure was a strong possibility.  For five years every marketing target had been missed.

A marketing campaign was devised and we put Facebook advertising at its centre.  

In the 2012-13 academic year we exceeded recruitment targets and broke a five year downward spiral.  So far in the 2013-14 recruitment year we have beaten monthly targets each and every month.  And remember Facebook has been at the heart of the marketing plan.       

Clearly either the report is wrong or young people in the south of England haven't read it.

And Facebook advertising hasn't proved expensive.

For example in the three months leading up to Christmas we ran just over 3,000 individual adverts with no fewer than 488 different images being used.

This resulted in over 17,000 people responding on the "dead and buried"  Facebook site.  Most of these were from the young people that had apparently deserted Facebook!

The total cost of the Facebook ads in this three month period was just under £7,200 .. or about 40 pence per response.   Yes, a lot of money in total, but far more responsive and lower cost what had previously failed.

The thing is, this £7,200 spend has resulted in targets being exceeded for the first time in five years, and has given the best return on investment of all the marketing channels used by my client.

It doesn't mean Facebook is right for you, or if it is that you need to spend as much (their turnover is nearly £30million so think of it in this context).  But what it does mean is that Facebook still has its uses and, what young people say they are doing, and what they actually do is somewhat different.

Facebook will undoubtedly die at some stage but the important thing is that we should judge our marketing on the return we get from it and not from the results of an EU report.

Stefan Drew

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