The Night I Stopped Marketing on Facebook (It’s Not What You Think)

facebook marketing status update A beautiful thing happened tonight (now last night).

I stopped marketing.

Is Reach down? Has the EdgeRank algorithm changed? Is Facebook forcing us to pay for Promoted Posts? Are shared photos no longer effective? Do long posts or short posts work better? Should I ask my Fans (who supposedly don’t see my content) to add me to an interest list (so they do)? What time of day is best to reach the most people? Hey, look at this cat! Should you reach all of your Fans? Fill in the blank. I LOVE BACON!

Market! Market! Market!

Sell! Sell! Sell!

Stats! Stats! Stats!

Even I get caught up in this stuff. But it’s time to slow down…

Facebook marketing has gotten out of hand. Everyone’s chasing the next shiny object. Trying to solve EdgeRank. Focusing on a freaking algorithm. And throwing a temper tantrum when that algorithm changes.


In the eyes of your Facebook Fans, you have one purpose: Provide Value.

If EdgeRank drives your content strategy, you aren’t providing value.

If you are focused on “fill in the blank,” “caption this” and cat photos because they drive interaction, you aren’t providing value.

If your first concern after an hour of writing a post is how many people it reached, you aren’t providing value.

If you are freaking out about whether you should be sharing links, status updates or photos, you aren’t providing value.

If you are copying and pasting a status update that begs your Fans to add you to an interest list because they aren’t seeing all of your posts (even though they couldn’t care less), you aren’t providing value.

Focus on value first. Sometimes that value is simply having a conversation.

Tonight (last night — yawn –), that’s what I did.

I just asked a question. I took the marketing out of it.

I was tired. I don’t sleep nearly enough these days. All I wanted was a quick blog post. So I wrote the status update to the right at 11:20 PM my time (1:20 AM EST).

This was probably the most informal Facebook post I’ve ever written. Now the most informal blog post I’ve ever written. Pulled back the curtain and let everyone in. Language was loose and no one cared.

It was fun.

The result: 63 comments in 40 minutes.

Did it provide value? If you say that nothing was accomplished in that status update — that it’s no better than a cat photo — you’re missing the point.

This status update proved something important. People don’t respond best to pictures. They don’t respond best to calls to action. They don’t respond best to specific words or phrases.

People respond to people. Not brands.

The lesson learned: Slow down on the marketing. Be authentic. Show your true self. Relax, pop open a cold one and have a good time with your audience.

Oh, and another thing… Don’t wait until 11:20 pm to start thinking about the night’s blog topic. Next thing you know, you’re writing about cats.

  • Mallie Hart

    Love it. It’s so great to see off the cuff, non-marketing messages really take off. It proves beyond doubt that people want to interact and discuss, even silly topics like cats, rather than be bombarded with marketing messages. Great post!

    • Jon Loomer

      NO CATS! This was definitely off the cuff, and my thoughts aren’t complete. I don’t want it to seem like you should never sell, never market, never look at stats, etc. You just shouldn’t have those things constantly be the sole driver of your content. An amazing thing happens when you put that stuff aside and just look to have a chat, right?

      Thanks, Mallie!

  • Laci Lewis

    Sometimes this is forgotten by companies. Great reminder!- “Slow down on the marketing. Be authentic. Show your true self.”

    • Jon Loomer

      YEAH! Glad it resonates with you, Laci.

  • Nimrod Ganzarski

    So actually, you haven’t used ANY ideas people wrote you… :-)

    • Jon Loomer

      So, so true! I’m a fraud. Truth is that there were a ton of great ideas in there, but none that would allow me to crank out a blog post in 30 minutes like this one!

  • Ruth Sheahan

    I agree and disagree Jon. I agree that this is the goal, I just don’t think most business people can just jump in at this point. It’s an evolution.

    You got a great response because of what you’ve built. If you tried this a year ago, would you have had the same response?

    The really small business owners I speak to can’t envision posting anything other than “Our specials today are …” and “Come in now for 10% off” Teaching them some tactics to earn engagement is vital at the beginning. Then we hope to wean them off the aids.

    Modern Family could be the first thing we look for in our newsfeed if they would just BE Modern Family! Why aren’t their writers writing FB content? It could be a HUGE extension of the brand for them, but no, they prefer “Now available on Windows 8″

    • Jon Loomer

      Hey, Ruth! Thanks so much for an additional perspective.

      On the Modern Family stuff… I was so disappointed. It looks like they must have realized this was a bad idea, too, because it seems that post was taken down.

      Now regarding this blog post, it’s probably a bit over the top. The main thing was not to say you should never market, sell, look at stats or try different things. But I just see more and more that people are shifting focus away from what they are posting and instead thinking that to be successful they need to post a certain TYPE of content or at a certain time. Or if it doesn’t work, they say it’s Facebook’s fault. All along they ignore that maybe — just maybe — the content they posted lacked quality or didn’t resonate with their audience.

      It’s also all relative. A small business may not get this much engagement on one post at midnight. And you should never try to copy that anyway. It’s just a matter of working in your “humanness” into your marketing. It absolutely helps. Get to know your audience. Find out what they like and don’t like. Get their opinions.

      I just felt it was time for a little reminder!

      Thanks so much, Ruth! Love the feedback.

  • Hilani Ellis

    So true Jon, great post and great content! Glad you had inspiration for a great blog post here!

    • Jon Loomer

      Thanks, Hilani!

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  • Michael Mulcahy

    I never really did understand Facebook. Great post BTW.

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  • Catherine LloydEvans

    Love this – it’s really difficult but I always think trying to find your ‘authentic voice’ is important. And also, people love being asked for their opinion, advice, recommendations. It’s a lot gentler than some other ‘involvement’ type posts.

  • Don Stanley

    Outstanding sir! Couldn’t have said it any better.

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  • Larry Krakow

    You hit it on the head Jon. I tell people the same thing all the time. Most people I deal with are network marketers. Outside the scope of the edge ranking system, there is no value in 99% of the things that I see. I am happy to drum up conversations with people and learn what makes them tick, what their problems are and get in touch with them and have a more personal communication. Even if I never sell them anything, I am happy that I left them with value, because I have found that they are right there helping me without even intending to do it. I am able to find a problem they have with their business, provide a simple solution and now, the result is becoming more likes and shares. Great post Jon and I will be back here to see what you have to say as I build my own following. Thank you.

  • Donna Moritz

    Love it Jon – more blog posts like this please – but I do also love your analytical how-to posts, but it is refreshing to write a post like this, hey! and great that you now have a whole swag of post ideas to refer to later. I agree with the whole “adding value” thing – I just wrote a post about 3 facebook posts that have gone viral or semi-viral (from my clients and subscribers) and have all been to purely adding value for the reader – either by inspiring, challenging them, giving a how-to or tapping into their emotions. As Scott Stratten says – we don’t decide if a post does well or goes “viral” – our reader does. But ultimately, as you say, if you forget all the other stuff, and just talk with them, people respond. Thanks for sharing this – it’s great!

    • Jon Loomer

      Thanks, Donna! This is my favorite type of post to write. Anything that is “editorial” and simply involves opinion and emotion as opposed to step-by-step structure. Don’t get me wrong, I think they both have their place, but I enjoy writing these!

  • Jemima

    I write about cats. And I take photos of cats too. In fact, if I could base my entire job around cats, that is what I would do. So it does take a certain level of restraint to not write about cats in my non-cat related job as a social media coordinator. My sole intent for the company is to provide value to our clients and prospect clients. It’s a daily challenge and so if I’m having a moment of clarity, I take the time to pre-populate a content calendar for both Facebook and the company blog. If I think of something better then I just override it on the day, but generally I try to stick to it. It really helps to be consistent and keep the content fresh and varied.

  • Prasant Naidu

    People respond to people. Not brands. You said it all in this one line. And i am sure Jon you will have a bunch of posts in your pipeline :)

    • Jon Loomer

      Thanks, Prasant!

  • Ivo Madaleno

    Completely agree with you, John! THE Most important thing is not stats, or facebook reach, it´s building a relationship with our audience/customers/fans (whatever the name) and providing value for them. Congrats, another great post and point of view!

    • Jon Loomer

      Thanks, Ivo!

  • Frances O.

    Great post indeed! Stats and #’s can drive anyone crazy! They’re important, but ultimately #’s don’t buy from you! :)

    • Jon Loomer

      Indeed, indeed, Frances! Thanks for reading!

  • KirstenNelson

    Loved it. So easy to lose that focus on value and get caught up in the little niggly bits. :)

  • Philip M. Anderson

    Great post! Ultimately, one has to ask themselves, “What is better? Thousands of people who see a post but DO nothing? Or ten people who see a post and are engaged and, at some point, WILL do something and that something will probably be pretty cool?” People who get caught up in the social media trend forget all too often that this is a different kind of marketing. This marketing is difficult to measure the ROI, if the “I” stands for investment but much easier to measure the ROI if the “I” stands for interest. It really IS about supplying value because with that, the reader is more apt to (say it with me) know, like and trust and then purchase from you. But you can’t make it about the money or it won’t come.Counter intuitive? Yes. Accurate? Also yes. Business owners have to have faith that this stuff works. But, like planting a tomato seed, don’t expect fruit the next day. It takes time. Thank you, Jon, for reminding people that it’s about the value first and foremost. The rest will fall in line…

  • Elly Hurley

    Thanks for writing this Jon. You have hit the nail on the head, we all get so wrapped up in how we are performing that we sometimes lose sight of what really matters – our fans. Reading this has brought a huge smile to my face and lifted a huge edgerank weight from my shoulders. Thanks again xx

  • Tracy Wisneski

    Relationships and authenticity. Exactly.

  • Gita Ricca

    Love it! Great article John, although I have only just come across this now, you hit the nail on the head here :) thanks