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Business Buzz: Oversaturation of Facebook groups

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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PHUKET: One of the great benefits of Facebook is that due to the sheer number of people using it, it has become a marketer’s dream to easily and cheaply connect with potential customers and to market products and services with great results.

But has it now reached the point of over-saturation?

A classic case in point is the use of online groups and fan pages as platforms for real estate and classified ads here in Phuket. I spent an hour or two just searching for different items and options, and was amazed at what I found.

There are now about 34 groups and six pages just for Phuket Classifieds. These groups range from having as little as 476 members, to the most popular site having almost 19,500 members. For those that can remember, there used to be just one expat buy and sell group in Phuket, and because of that it was very efficient because all of the buyers and sellers ended up in the same place.

Now that many people have started their own group, it has diluted the overall usefulness, as people now have to waste time posting or searching in numerous groups to find anything.

Even more saturated is the Phuket real estate scene. I stopped counting after a while, as page after page, and group after group, was returned in my search request. There are literally hundreds, if not thousands, of these sites, and people have even created normal profiles under real estate names, which adds even more to the oversupply.

For the early birds and trend setters, this was a very successful form of marketing, but what has happened now is the lazy, unoriginal marketers and latecomers have decided that they should set up their own groups, in effect diluting the whole sector’s communications. I am guessing that the theory was that by being in control of a group, marketers thought they would get more exposure, but the reality is that this had an overall negative impact for all involved, both buyers and sellers.

So what does this actually mean in real terms?

Quite simply, as a seller you are now just part of a huge amount of noise. For the average person, this has become annoying, so Facebook searches have certainly lost appeal. People looking for classifieds or real estate now have to work much harder to get the quality answers that they are seeking.

So, in reality, a lot of customers have changed to different search methodologies, or resigned themselves to the fact that they must search through more groups than ever before. If you are careful with how you phrase your search enquiry, you can also do some qualified searches to get rid of a lot of the rubbish.

From a business perspective, this has meant that to stand out you now really need to be different and know what you are doing. The days of the easy post and quick returns are over, so more technique and marketing finesse is required.

I guess the interesting question will be what Facebook will do about it. Given that it now means businesses may be forced to spend money on Facebook ads to stand out, the likely answer is nothing. However, given that they want to be the premier search platform, they may have something up their sleeve to keep users happy and engaged.

Simon Wetherell is a social media expert and lawyer. He trains businesses and individuals on how to profit from the social media industry. For more information: PhuketOnlineMarketingSchool.com or call 095-085 3355.

— Simon Wetherell

 

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