Socialbakers CEO claims there is a ‘witch hunt’ against Facebook

James has a passion for how technologies influence business and has several Mobile World Congress events under his belt. James has interviewed a variety of leading figures in his career, from former Mafia boss Michael Franzese, to Steve Wozniak, and Jean Michel Jarre. James can be found tweeting at @James_T_Bourne.

The CEO of social analysis tool provider Socialbakers, Jan Rezab, has claimed that people are trying to create a “witch hunt” against Facebook amidst a research note from Forrester exec Nate Elliott claiming that Facebook was continuing to fail marketers.

In a blog post on his personal site, Rezab derided Facebook bashing as “cool and trendy” and “click bait”, adding the general consensus of Facebook’s marketing – lack of organic reach, lots of fake fans – was wide of the mark.

“Do you think someone put a line of code: If this is a branded page, then don’t show?” Rezab asked.

“It’s primarily the user’s behaviour and the brand’s behaviour that has changed,” he added. “Users follow more pages, brands send more posts [and] content. Do you really expect organic reach to grow under these circumstances, even be flat?”

Given Facebook admitted back in 2012 pages reach on average 16% of their fans organically, this is a reasonable point.

Regarding the fake fans – a criticism which Elliott specifically referenced in his research note – Rezab noted: “Yes, there are users that you acquire as fans, who are later inactive with your page. Yes, this is a problem of several relatively big countries where ad bots can hide out.

“If you target your advertising, you will be fine.”

Rezab puts his evidence in a seven point manifesto, which raises some interesting questions.

One argument simply compares Facebook favourably against traditional advertising. “Many TV ads are being skipped, being ignored, used as bathroom breaks, and we don’t really know a lot about the % loss,” he added.

Similarly, Rezak believes Facebook advertising is still relatively cheap. Add in the continually evolving nature of the industry, as well as Rezak’s belief that “all ads are better if they’re social”, and a theme is developing.

Above all, Rezab believes that smaller businesses provide the future for Facebook advertising. “If you are a small business, I believe you don’t repeat advertise unless you actually have ROI,” he added.

Questions will inevitably be raised concerning the veracity of Rezab’s criticism, especially given his company makes money through social advertising. The Socialbakers CEO addresses this however, observing that his business model requires companies to make ROI on other social networks.

Elliott’s research note caused plenty of discussion when it was published last week. Yet below the line the Forrester analyst wrote in response to a commenter: “Some marketers manage to beat the odds. The better marketer you are, and the more help you have from PMDs (preferred marketing developer programs)…the better your chances of success.”

He added: “Our data says that on average, marketers find significantly less success with Facebook than they do with search marketing, email marketing, and even plain old online banner ads.

“But if you can beat the averages and make Facebook work for you – then by all means, keep up the good work.”

This debate is going to run and run – and will be discussed by industry experts at Social Media World Forum, in London on March 31 to April 1. Book your ticket by visiting this page.

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