There’s a major problem with Facebook
There’s a major problem with Facebook
Let me start by saying that problems with Facebook aren’t new. In an article I wrote in January of 2018, I referenced the ongoing problems with Facebook misrepresenting data.
Even so, it was a viable advertising network, specifically for Montessori schools who generally have very limited advertising dollars. Facebook was a cost effective way to get the word out about your school and attract mission appropriate parents.
That’s simply not true any longer.
As you may or may not be aware, Facebook’s Founder & Chairman was called to testify in front of Congress last year. Since then, their data deals are currently under criminal investigation and the FTC has secured authority to open an antitrust probe into Facebook.
I feel safe speculating that, by all appearances, Facebook’s successful campaigns were built on top of nefarious data practices and they were just called to the table.
This cascade of events seems to have caused Facebook to massively over-correct and rip the rug out from underneath advertisers; especially smaller advertisers who rely on micro-segmentation.
Please understand, this isn’t just a “gut feeling” that I’m operating off of.
The truth is in the data
We’re well on the way to approaching 1,000 members to our marketing community. That’s 1,000 individual Montessori schools! One of the major benefits to having that large of a membership base is we’re given the opportunity to see a lot of data. And I mean a lot of data.
I have been inside more Facebook campaigns than I can recall and the one thing I can say with confidence is that it’s no longer the lead generator that it used to be.
If you attend our coaching calls, you may already be aware of this. If this is news to you, please allow me to reiterate what we’ve already been telling our higher plane members for over a month:
We strongly recommend Montessori schools avoid Facebook for lead generation.
The data is very clear. Yes, Facebook can produce a flurry of activity that make it look like you’re getting traction. You may even be seeing leads coming through by using Facebook Lead Ads (something we used to recommend).
But how many of those leads are you even able to get a hold of? If you’re like one of the schools we’ve been working with, chances are you’re seeing a mass influx in phantom leads if you’re receiving any leads at all.
And what about all of the likes, comments, and sharing that’s going on?
The danger of vanity metrics
I won’t say that social activity is worthless, it’s not. However, as the old marketing adage goes, you can’t eat a like. That’s just to say, likes, comments, or shares don’t directly impact the admissions numbers at your school.
There are still a small minority of schools (typically in much smaller geographic regions) that Facebook appears to be functioning for. But, by and large, it’s currently a non starter.
While I don’t anticipate this being true forever (a multi-billion dollar company doesn’t just roll over and die), Montessori schools don’t have the budgets or the time to sit around and wait for Facebook to get their act together.
If you’re currently working with someone who is running your Facebook advertising, my strong recommendation would be to make sure they’re not feeding you vanity metrics.
Let them know: You don’t care about likes, comments, shares, reach, audience size, etc. You care about admissions.
Digital marketing allows advertisers to track the success of their campaigns all the way through the sales funnel.
If you have a CRM in place, you should be able to see what leads are being produced and where they’re coming from.
Please don’t allow anyone to try and convince you something is working when the results you’re seeing in your school aren’t aligned with whatever spreadsheet you’re being fed via email.
We are as disappointed as you are
I feel compelled to point out that it doesn’t benefit me at all to share this information. In fact, Facebook was a foundational part of Nido Marketing’s service offerings. Our entire Third Plane rested on Facebook Ads as a cornerstone of the package.
With the death of Facebook as a lead generation service, we’re left scrambling trying to use Google Ads (a more expensive and advanced network) to fill that gaping hole.
However, we didn’t start Nido Marketing to sell things to Montessori schools. It was founded with the aim of helping Montessori schools grow. Facebook used to do that, it doesn’t any longer.
What is Facebook still good for?
While I no longer recommend that Montessori schools use Facebook as a lead generation source, I still believe that Facebook (and it’s sub-property Instagram) are great tools for remarketing and brand awareness.
The segmentation that we used to effectively generate leads is no longer operating properly. However, we’re still able to build strong remarketing lists as well as present content to prospects within a specific geo-fence.
This means that larger schools with a budget for branding can use Facebook and Instagram (major emphasis on the latter) to make sure their content and messaging stay visible in their community.
In addition, schools who are driving traffic to their site through other means (Google, traditional advertising, etc.) can use Facebook to effectively remarket traffic that is already proven to be valuable.
While those strategies are helpful, they’re not the go-to source for mission appropriate leads that the majority of schools (especially small schools) need to justify advertising spend.
So, what’s next?
We have recommended our member schools switch from Facebook to Google Ads for lead generation. While Google is more expensive per click, that cost is irrelevant when comparing the two networks in terms of their ability to drive new admissions.
In other words, Facebook may be cheap but an inexpensive campaign that yields zero tangible results is actually more expensive than a campaign that costs a little more and actually drives new admissions.
By using extremely focused, exact-match keyphrases, small schools can run targeted Google Ads campaigns for as little as $500 a month. This is the same amount we used to recommend starting with on Facebook.
As I said earlier, I don’t anticipate Facebook being dead forever. It’s something we’ll be paying very close attention to and working to improve upon.
However, I also don’t think Montessori schools are in a position to wait out the storm. Instead, the correct course of action is to migrate over to what we know works in order to help you maximize your advertising dollars.
We’re here to help
This is a big issue and one that impacts a lot of schools. Regardless of whether or not you’re a paying member, we’re here to help you navigate these decisions.
If you have any questions, or if you disagree with anything that I have said, please don’t hesitate to reach out or even post a comment here on this article. We embrace open dialog and hope to foster a conversation that can serve all Montessori schools as a community.
Thank you for your trust in Nido Marketing and for allowing us the opportunity to serve you.