UPDATE: Facebook has now introduced an update for all mobile apps that includes a share button for posts from others in your news feed. Late to the game, but the problem described below is no longer a problem
Imagine that your team is in the Big Game. It’s all on the line. The Championship is up for grabs.
You have the hometown advantage for this game, which in your sport is huge.
And then you find out that over half of your fans in the stands that day will not be allowed to cheer for you.
Whether you realize it or not, that’s what happens every day to your Facebook brand page.
Recent studies show that as much as 57% of all Facebook users use FB primarily through a mobile device. While many of those who are “fans” of your page can (potentially) see your updates in their news feeds, they can’t spread them any further. They have no way to stand up and cheer for your great content. Why?
Because Facebook mobile makes it very hard to share.
That fact is simply stunning to me. How many years now has Facebook had mobile apps out there? And still no share button on posts. And I can’t believe that more marketers aren’t raising holy hell about it.
Yes, the latest iOS version does have the ability to share a link, but do you know where to do that? Neither did I, until I happened to stumble upon it:
…and only after opening the link from the original post. You can’t reshare the post itself, just the linked material. And then you have to be someone who recognizes that icon as meaning “share this.” Clicking the icon gives this:
And if the post has no link to an outside site? No can do? Want to share that great viral meme photo? You’re out of luck. You can’t share it. You can’t even copy and paste it into a new post (at least not on the iOS version).
A “social network” where up to 57% of your users can’t share? Isn’t sharing great stuff at the heart of what a social network does? I can’t think of any app for any other social network that doesn’t allow sharing among users, can you?
Say you’re on your iPhone (or Android – I don’t want to start any wars!) and you browse through your Facebook app looking to kill a few minutes while you’re waiting for an appointment. You come across a great contest from one of your favorite brand pages, something you just know you and your friends could totally dominate and take away that lifetime supply of whatever-that-brand-makes. But you’re stuck in this doctor’s waiting room, and the Facebook post has no share link, or it’s so hidden you don’t know where it is.
By the time you get home, something else new and shiny has come up on Facebook, and the contest post is forever forgotten.
And that business will never know the opportunity they just lost.
Why No Share Button on Facebook Mobile Is So Bad
Let’s just put aside for the moment the frustration this causes the average Facebook user. I couldn’t possibly number the times that I have been disappointed that I couldn’t share something cool or meaningful with my friends because I was trapped on my mobile.
The real sin of no-sharing mobile is for marketers who rely on fans to spread the good word about their great stuff. The reason that social media can be such a powerhouse for marketing (when done well) is the remarkable ability to turn average people into your “fans” (Facebook even calls them that!), and then enlist them to become your brand evangelists.
You put out great content; your fans make it go viral and spread your message and your name far and wide.
Except on Facebook, as much as 57% of your fan base is silenced. Your message hits their eyes and goes no further.
Sure someone could click through to the linked site (if there is one) and share from there. Well, maybe. In all too many cases, if there is a Facebook button on the site, it doesn’t play well with mobile. Either it’s just a “recommend” or “like” button (which gives you no opportunity to tell your friends why you’re sharing this with them), or even if it’s a “share” button, the share box doesn’t render correctly. Just this morning I tried to share on mobile from a site, and after I’d typed in a lengthy comment, discovered that now “post” button was visible anywhere on my mobile screen.
Why Is There Still No Share Button on Facebook Mobile?
I can think of only two possible reasons (and the third one from a Google+ friend):
- Technical Difficulty Theory. Maybe for some reason, we don’t know sharing is really, really hard to implement on Facebook’s mobile platform. Really difficult…after three+ years of development by one of the wealthiest companies on earth? I don’t buy it.
- Whacko Conspiracy Theory! Facebook doesn’t want people sharing, because they desperately need to monetize their mobile presence, and they want to force brands to have to buy mobile ads in order to extend their reach to the mobile audience.
- Programmed Consumption Theory. +John Taylor on Google+ added that it might be that Facebook really does see mobile as a consumption-only outlet, and they are the network TV programming execs. They know best what you should see and not see. When your friend Likes something, if the boys up in the executive suite (AKA Facebook’s EdgeRank algorithm) decide it would be good for you to see that, you will. Or not.