To be clear, I’m a big fan of Facebook, both personally and professionally. As a 20-something I’m addicted to keeping track of friends and secretly stalking new people I meet.
As a search marketer, I’m a strong supporter of (relevant) business participation as an effective tool for brand awareness and customer engagement. With that said, I’m more than a little disappointed in Facebook’s lack of basic functionality and advertiser tools.
While Facebook offers a ton of great features (demographic targeting, RSS integration, custom tabs, etc) their lack of attention to detail has left the stale taste of missed opportunity in my mouth. Why? Let me explain.
Limited Reporting: I would really love to see more comprehensive options with regards to reporting.
- Reports w/custom date ranges – options are quite limited here.
- Data Mining – considering the gold mine they’re sitting on, this can be improved significantly. For example, I can get a breakdown of age ranges or geographic region for my ad. In other words, I can see the overall percent of 18-24 year olds or people in California that clicked on my ad, but I can’t see how many 18-24 year olds in California clicked on my ad.
- Conversion Tracking – come on people this is not 1998 and we’re in an economic downturn. Advertisers need to be able to measure ROI. Or has this feature been excluded on purpose…?
Ads Manager: unimpressive, to say the least. A more user friendly and accessible UI would be especially helpful for management purposes, and a desktop editor would be even better.
- Access – as it currently stands, multiple administrators cannot access the Ad Manager. The one that sets this up is the only one that can view the reports and manage ads. This is especially frustrating if multiple people need access, or if a 3rd party takes on ad management.
- Inability to Edit Existing Ads – what if I just need to make one tiny change? Facebook gives me the option to edit the ad but a new ad is created to reflect the change. So then you have both the old and new running, must pause the old, and remember to aggregate those performance stats. Unnecessary.
Fan Page Updates: this feature is great in theory. The ability to blast all fans with relevant or important information is very useful. However, the only way that fans know about the updates is if they navigate to the updates tab located inside their inbox. Probably not.
Alerts: for those managing multiple Facebook pages, or for those that are just plain busy and don’t have time to log in and review activity every day, it would be super handy to be able to receive email alerts for whenever someone has engaged in your page in some way. This issue may be resolved however, with the release of the new Open Stream API so stay tuned on this front.
As a search marketer, these shortcomings make my job harder. And not for selfish reasons – not being able to effectively illustrate and analyze performance, having to charge clients more for the additional management time required to deal with the clunky interface, and missed opportunities for fan outreach are not in favor of big brands and small business owners alike.
Has Facebook’s success gone to its proverbial head? I’m assuming that the lack of competition is allowing them to take their sweet time in dealing with these glaring issues. I would argue however, that it’s in their best interest to hurry up and create a platform that allows for advertisers to spend more time engaging with their fan base, and less time scratching their heads.
Rachel Andersen works for the Portland based SEM agency Anvil Media, Inc. She has expertise in all aspects of search engine marketing and specializes in SEO for large sites. Andersen has been responsible for the development and execution of dozens of search and social marketing campaigns over her time spent with Anvil.