What better way to remain completely uninvolved, sparing oneself even the effort to click on anything, let alone type a word or two. If we type we do it to share meaningless expletives or or maybe a senseless “Wow” or “Super”. Carefully filtered for political correctness, we watch our connections and who we share what status with. We might LOL or ROFL and sometimes we OMG! or FML!!!, but sincerity and courtesy have somehow left. Nowadays we meet and our first thought is not to have a cup of coffee and catch up, instead we need a Selfie which then gets posted on Facebook. Depending on the popularity and social ranking of the people taking that picture it can collect a couple thousand likes within hours. Oh Wow! Nice. Facebook has changed the face of the earth. Despite being young, I have trouble following and staying interested.
Page Owners & Online Marketing
So, in previous years Facebook was a surefire way to attract an audience to a website. I grew my Seaplaneforum.com out of nothing – countless of my 650 Members found the site through Facebook and Google. Seaplane pilots are a funny, very political group of people with old ties, old boys club games and “Seaplane Gods” who direct the movie. Its not easy to get “Fans” on Facebook and its even harder to transfer those followers into contributing members of a website.
Seaplaneforum.com has collected 216 “Fans” of which less than 15% can be reached when a new post is shared. This is Facebook’s way of trying to force Page Owners to pay for promotions and boosting of posts. “Liking” the shared page does wonders, unfortunately people like posts before pages and very rarely share anything. It costs $5.00 to boost a post and reach an audience that wasn’t intended to be reached. The boost will bring likes, but rarely new members to a discussion board. The forum is doing well but could use more actively posting members.
Aerobaticsforum.com has attracted some 256 “Fans” of which 2 have joined the forum. The site was heavily promoted during launch in 2013 and collected 350+ members who posted some 1000+ topics within weeks. Despite its beginning success people used it for heavy business promotion, there was a huge debacle with the International Aerobatics Club and finally I threw in the towel after a year. The site was relaunched in July of 2015 – and has since gained 9 Members. Silence has taken over – most of the 35 remaining members don’t know how to get it going.
Gliderforum.com in turn had ~ 150 Fans for the longest time with extremely limited participation rates on the site and completely lacking any supporting members. Recruiting new members has been a struggle. The site was closed together with Aerobaticsforum.com and relaunched in July of 2015. To my surprise it is doing better than both other sites in terms of traffic and readers – something owed to a handful of dedicated members. Recent outreach to various Soaring Associations looks promising so the work will continue to bring the site back to its former glory.
Again – Facebook has changed the world and I have my doubts that it has done anything to foster true communication amongst people. Discussion boards are information resources and depend on more than “Like” to become a melting pot for people who are passionate about what they do. My members tell me that activity depends on activity. I tell my members to take the first step. Be it by posting about a trip, an airshow or a long distance glider flight, everyone (independent of their English skills) has something to share that will help to inform someone else later. Its really not that we have nothing to talk about or are so terribly reserved in real life. Each one of us has something to contribute and everyone of us needs the feeling of being part of a community that goes beyond Mr. Zuckerberg’s financial mega coup. He became a Multi Billionaire by making personal interaction and communication an act of mindless posting, sharing, liking and forgetting about it a minute later. He milks users through advertising, advertisers through users and if that’s not enough, they manage to display only 15% of the information on display to get people to pay for communication.
Page owners who wish to see a lot of “Fans” on Facebook MUST pay for it, or like me have friends who help to spread the word by sharing my pages. Its the only “affordable” way to get traffic to a site and potentially an advertiser or new member. If this does not happen, promoting a website with Facebook seems as illogical as putting a billboard into the woods. Anything beyond the quick like and Oh Wow! or “LOL” with some emoticon which laughs tears – not too many things are funny or helpful. Please think about this stuff. Its inconvenient and not painted in bright pink. Its reality for many of us who don’t measure their success in life or business by the amount of Facebook Fans we may be able to capture. Being connected beyond Facebook is what will matter when Zuckerberg decides to sell to the Chinese or someone else comes up with a new Rocket Science Social Media Experiment. Lets not put all our eggs into one basket…
Jason J. Baker, Publisher