Facebook is a Moving Target for Developers and Consultants

Depending on Facebook for a living can be frustrating.

One of the most frustrating parts of being a social media consultant is keeping up with changes on Facebook and other social platforms I depend on. For example, you plan and build out a Facebook contest for weeks and hours. Buy-in finally reached. Ready to launch. In this case, the contest success depends on a landing page/app that collects hundreds of entries and contact information for each.

Without an app you could spend hours pouring over your Wall to find and track entries manually. You depend on using an app because it’s against Facebook’s rules to require your fans to post to your Wall to enter a contest. It’s also very cumbersome to choose a winner that way.

The developer of the app depends on the Facebook platform. When I heard Mark Zuckerberg speak I loved how he takes pride in the fact that Facebook helps entrepreneurs like himself start new businesses. Here’s the problem though – those businesses are subject to any changes Facebook makes and often without notice. And Facebook changes often making your advice, webinars, eBooks, blog posts, and conference talks obsolete. Or their changes require expensive staff time to program new solutions or fixes for your products.

Constant change is part of the cost of doing business in new media and part of what makes it exciting, but sometimes it’s a lot for a new business to keep up with. However, not innovating (changing) means being obsolete (ask MySpace).

Imagine having several large clients depending on your app and having something change that makes the app unworkable. Or Facebook shuts down your app without notice because of an issue with your server (or something else). No warning and suddenly you need to revamp your code. This is not good for business. Clients may not be too understanding when all their plans are suddenly on hold while you scramble to revamp your product.

Technology can be frustrating when you depend on it to work a certain way and it either changes or does not work as planned.

Last night at a blogger’s conference I had a discussion with a professor about if it’s possible to even be a “social media expert” when social media is so big and always in flux.

Who should take the blame when things don’t go as planned – even if it’s something you didn’t anticipate or cannot control?

Can social media experts afford to be arrogant or rest a minute on past success (past meaning, last week or month)?

Sometimes I’m swept up in it all. I love this entire revolution. But many times I find myself being defensive or seemingly arrogant because as social media consultants our opinions can constantly be challenged. There is a lot of education that goes with the job and as I pointed out, it’s not always a quick or inexpensive solution (in time or money).

Add on to that high expectations of quick success or an illusion of ease (that it doesn’t take a lot of mental energy, developing and testing to find the right mix of products and solutions for a client). Or that it’s simple to get a huge influencer (or many small influencers) to take interest in and post about your brand.

No, social media is not a miracle drug or magic wand for marketers. It’s a moving target we’re all trying to hit. It’s exhilarating when you do hit (much like the jackpot my husband hit last month) right. But it can really hurt when you don’t.

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