October 19th 2021
Facebook: Yesterday's Social Media

Here at Leisure Leagues, in 30 years of operating our small sided leagues, we’ve been involved in some notable firsts.

All those years ago we saw that nobody was running small sided football leagues nationally, so we stepped in. We noticed that nobody seem to be doing any type of small sided leagues internationally, and now we operate on every continent on the planet.

But you can’t achieve any of these firsts without knowing a thing or two about how to promote and market what you are doing.

So we’ve been following the trends from 30 years ago, physically promoting our leagues, literally on the streets, with banners, leaflets and posters, to embracing the social media world which started to boom about a decade ago, primarily through the medium of Facebook.

But we can see things starting to change. Ask any 18-year-old if they are on Facebook nowadays and they will tell you that they are, but they don’t use it much. Why? Because Facebook is increasingly seen as the medium that their mums and dads are on, and that’s not a place any self-respecting 18-year-old wants to be.

Increasingly, the world fragments as more and more individuals and companies start creating their own media platforms, and rely less on the medium of Facebook. It’s a trend that has only just started, but we think is going to accelerate..

And Facebook are hardly helping themselves, either.

We’ve heard stories how Facebook have randomly closed down accounts, for no valid reason, simply because they can. And if they do, there’s very little you can do about it. You can’t take Facebook to court, because they don’t operate in the UK, and ask anyone who’s tried to take legal action against a company outside the UK. It’s pretty much impossible unless you want to spend £10,000 to hire an international lawyer, with no prospect of success.

So if they close your account you are simply left with their appeals process. Not much good that is. Judge and Jury lies with Facebook.

Three years ago Facebook close down one of our accounts, and over 70,000 followers with it. Not much justification, and they didn’t respond to any of our solicitors letters. Pretty high-handed considering that across all our platforms we were spending over £25,000 in advertising per month, which we immediately stopped. But we don’t suppose £25,000 a month is going to bother Mark Zuckerberg very much.

The odd thing is that when we told Facebook we were spending over £300,000 a year with them they responded simply was that it was another department, and we don’t deal with them. Talk about left-hand, right-hand.

We found that saving that money didn’t actually make a lot of difference to us. We still moved forward, progressed, started new leagues. There were other, cheaper, better ways of getting our message across, rather than simply throwing money at a social media platform.

It made us be creative.

So when recently Facebook closed down another one of our national accounts, citing the fact that we were advertising a prize draw with our live TV show, they simply said that we were engaged in ‘gambling’.

Of course, we told them that it was nothing of the sort. Teams actually had to play matches and win a league in order to enter the prize draw, so it wasn’t gambling at all. Facebook’s response? They couldn’t deal with it because they were ‘understaffed’. Not that they’d have the capacity to spend any time researching the fact that we were actually offering a prize draw based on teams having competed to win a prize, and it wasn’t gambling at all.

Why spend money on staff to research problems and queries and appeals, when you can make more and more billions from the unsuspecting public?

But the one thing we have found is that it hasn’t affected our business. We seem to think we need to rely on Facebook for everything marketing wise. And yes, a lot of the time it works. But increasingly there are now new ways, and new platforms to engage in. And Facebook is becoming old hat, particularly when our key market, 18 to 35-year-olds, are telling us all the time that Facebook isn’t their chosen preferred outlet for social media any more.

Once Facebook was new and fresh and exciting. Now it’s where your mums and dads, and even grannies and grandads might go.

Which might be all very well for Facebook if they actually realised the impact of randomly closing accounts, how much it was costing them, and what it was driving people to do in their place. Because by saying to people you can’t come into our shop, you end up with a situation where people will go into other shops, or even open other shops so people can go into them, instead.

It’s a risky strategy, but Facebook haven’t seem to have worked it out, or are even making so much money right now, that they cannot see the future.

So our prediction is keep your eye on what happens to Facebook over the next five years. Five years ago, we might have said that Skype was going to be around forever, as the age of remote meetings took off, even without the coronavirus pandemic. But where is Skype now? Dispatched into oblivion by a host of other remote platforms for meetings that made Skype virtually redundant overnight.

And treat your best customers with disdain, and like any business, you might just end up exactly in the place you don’t want to be.

The era of Facebook is coming to an end.

Billions in profit. Yet they can’t afford to run a customer service team? Ask any business what recipe that creates.

We say, watch out for the next thing just around the corner. In five years time we might be looking back at things such as Facebook and Skype as an era set in its own time, who saw their star burned brightly, but eventually fell from the sky.

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