For bloggers, Facebook has provided an unprecedented way for us to connect with out readers. Not only does it give us a chance to be where our readers are naturally, but it is much more personal than email newsletters, RSS subscriptions, etc. Best of all, it gives our readers an excellent chance to share and spread our content, something that’s much more difficult over other means.
However, integrating a blog with Facebook, especially when you put your profile out there as well, is far from without risk. In fact, for many bloggers Facebook may be more trouble than it’s worth.
This isn’t to say that Facebook is bad, but before you start putting up Facebook buttons all over your site, creating your fan page and/or linking to your profile, you need to understand that it does have some negative impacts too.
With that in mind, here are a few of those impacts to be aware of and how you can mitigate against them.
1. The Second Inbox
Most likely, you already have an email address, accept comments on your site and you may use Twitter or instant messaging as well. If you add on Facebook, however, expect to have yet another inbox and yet another distraction.
For many, Facebook is the primary means of contacting other people. Facebook messages, despite their limitations when compared to email, are their go-to way to reach out to new individuals. Though you can integrate Facebook messages into your regular email workflow by having Facebook send you emails when you get a new message, you still have to answer them on the Facebook site and make sure that you coordinate what’s going on in your two inboxes.
Depending on the volume of mail you get, this can be a lot of work and it often leads to messages getting lost or forgotten.
2. Balkanization of Audience
Facebook is more than just a place to share links and status updates, it’s a place to leave comments and interact. In short, readers who get your content on Facebook are likely to interact with it almost solely on Facebook and never join the community that’s actually on your site.
Even if they do stop by your site to read the content, they will likely return to Facebook for any interaction as it is the environment they are most comfortable with. This means you have to follow the conversation in multiple places, making it more difficult to stay on top of what’s being said and also more difficult to grow and nurture yur community.
3. Facebook is Controlled by Facebook
Anything you do with Facebook you neither own nor control. Facebook does. With their notoriously shifting policies and tendency to change their site and their structure with little warning, building a presence on Facebook can feel like building a house on quicksand.
Based on its history, Facebook is far from being a solid, reliable partner and you need to realize what is available to you today may not be there tomorrow.
4. Swallowed up
Those who follow you on Facebook won’t just be seeing your posts and messages, instead, they’ll be in a stream with their dozens, if not hundreds or thousands, of other friends, pages and subscriptions. In short, your update might not even be seen by the majority of pople who “Like” you.
While the noise isn’t as bad as with Twitter, it’s definitely more than email (at least in most cases) and RSS subscription. In short, Facebook can be a very bad place to get your content seen.
Finally, time spent working on your Facebook page, tweaking your profile, posting messages, etc. is time NOT spent writing new content, and maintaining your site. Facebook can, and for many sites does, become a distraction in a major way.
If you can’t do a good job on Facebook without maintaining the quality of work you do on your main site, it probably isn’t worth using.
None of this is to say that you shouldn’t use Facebook or integrate it deeply into your site. Facebook can be a very powerful tool when used correctly and, despite it’s imitations, there are many good reasons to get involved.
However, it’s best to do such things with a robust understanding of the impact it can have, positive and negative. As such, it’s important to discuss the risks as well as the benefits and that’s what this article is about.
When and how you use Facebook is entirely up to you, but no matter what you decide, it’s critical to make the right decision for you and your site, something you can’t do without seeing both sides of the coin.