Facebook is Killing off small Websites

The Black Presence in Britain - Black British History Website

Facebook is Killing Smaller Websites

Facebook is Killing Smaller Websites

It’s Black History Month again and once again, I’m rushing around cyberspace trying to rally the troops. Every year it seems that BHM comes around so fast.  During August, I’m busy writing articles about famous Black Britons.  Then in September, I’m contacting anyone who knows about black history, inviting them to write blog posts and submit articles and dates for black history month.

Then before you know it, it’s upon us and it’s a whirlwind of activity trying to promote the material I have gathered and that the guest bloggers have so kindly donated.These days, promoting content on the web is a different ball game to a few years ago.  There was a time when you could say something a little controversial on a forum, sit back and watch the visitors flood in, everyone likes a good debate/scrap.

Nowadays though, the message is more diluted. The best forums are all but dead, killed off by the rise and rise of Facebook and an army of russian spammers and their robots.  Social media is the space to concentrate your efforts. Facebook , Twitter, Pinterest etc. My head is spinning.

Facebook is good, but it’s killing small websites

Facebook is a great place to meet new people, it’s certainly a great way to find out what’s going on and to network with like-minded people.  I try to post daily to the Black Presence Facebook page and the Black Presence Facebook Group. However, that requires that I spend a lot of time on Facebook, between two pages, not to mention interacting with other users and groups.  All this Facebooking means that ultimately I’m neglecting my own website.  You see Facebook is good, but it’s killing small websites.

I believe that individual Websites are still the life blood of the world wide web, and it isn’t healthy for the web to be losing so much traffic to just one site.
A few years ago, during Black History Month, Black Presence would easily get thousands of visitors every day.  This year we are getting a few hundred.The diaspora has moved on.  Just like the African Caribbean Social Clubs up and down the land, that are suffering dwindling membership, Black British websites are suffering a brain drain, as people see websites like facebook as a one stop shop.  Think of the web as your local high Street, Facebook is the giant supermarket. It has everything, and all for one time registration.

Whilst I’m concerned about this, I know that the way that independent websites will survive the onslaught is by providing quality content.  Writing an article with your point of view, researching an article with love and attention and then offering up up for public consumption is far more rewarding than posting pictures of some “big ol gal” with her batty hanging out.  Furthermore, without being too snobby, I believe that while facebook can expose us to things we would have missed naturally, it is also contributing to a “dumbing down” effect.  People only read short articles or posts, they click “like” instead of actually engaging the author on their webpage. It’s al very well having a conversation inside facebook but all that content belongs to facebook.  It’s theirs to do what they want with it.

You might be surprised to know that Black Presence isn’t run by a team of web developers, or public organisers, it’s just little old me.  Time is a massive issue hindering the growth of the site.  I’m a husband and a father, I also work full time, and manage several other websites.   If the site is to go on, to move forward.  It needs several things to keep it afloat.

1) 3 x Me.  Seriously though…it would be great if there were couple of people out there who wanted to selflessly use their time to research, and post articles on blackpresence, thus reducing my workload.  That way, I coulld concentrate on the marketing side and maybe bring in a little more investment.

2) User feedback.  This site needs your feedback.  I need you to comment on the articles.  If you don’t comment, then all those people who spend time writing and submitting articles are getting nothing back. Reading an article and not leaving a comment is just plain rude, it doesn’t take time to congratulate the author, or even upbraid them if you disagree.  We all comment on Facebook, so why not on Black Presence?

3) A strong network. Facebook stats, tell me I have 3000 friends.  The page has 1000’s of collective “likes”.  The one thing missing from this is sharing. Press the SHARE button on Facebook, the more people who are aware of the site, the more we begin to build a community that is aware of a powerful medium dedicated to the cause of Black History.  This site has been online since 1998, it’s not going away.

So, That’s it , my little rant is over.  I hope you all have a great Black History Month and that you all get to attend at least one event that reminds you of the struggle people of African descent have faced here in Britain.

Now PLEASE, leave me a comment below, and of course, click the “like Button” to the left of the article.
For updates Follow on Twitter @blackpresence

An Article by Phil Gregory: Editor, Black Presence in Britain Website

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10 Responses to “Facebook is Killing off small Websites”

  1. This post is obviously crying out for a comment- as you point out, it’d be rude not to! I think you have to also take into account the action on the ground- there are so many BHM events taking place across the country, and that’s a really positive thing. Of course, we should make the most of them, and draw people’s attention to the continuing debate online.

    I have just joined your Facebook group and will share your post with my friends.

    Don’t give up- the work you do is invaluable!

    Miranda x

  2. michael1952 says:

    Phil some sound points but numbers are good but so is quality – quality not just in the writing but the engagement. Facebook contact via a LIKE is cursory, a passing thing often with little or no involvement aka reading the piece clicking the LIKE button does not mean someone’s read or understood the piece. I would argue Facebook contact is like a snack while a visit to the web site is something much more substantial and engaging so, we should focus on quality not quantity.

  3. Mike Blythe says:

    The first thing I want to say is well done for doing what you have done and continue to do. I am full of admiration and appreciation for the material and content you make available to readers. I write as someone who has resisted but belatedly joined the ranks of facebook and twitter users , more in order to see what is going on and where it i going.
    I fully appreciate the thrust of your piece and will look to offer support in an effective way. On that I will come back to you.
    There is great value in having an extended conversation where many layers and levels of understanding can be discussed and formats such as FB does not allow for that. However the success of FB in drawing so much attention and usage to the web does create the opportunity for communication and sharing between like minded individuals more likely.
    There is a important need for an outlet such as Blackpresence, along with others, and its ability to collate the numerous actions and experience of black people in this country and further afield.
    I am currently working on a project as lead videographer and stills photographer as part of a documentary o accompany an exhibition to be held at the Museum of London Docklands Sugar and Slavery Gallery based on the material of a collector that depicts the black presence in the UK through the 1700-1800s. As we make progress on the editing and delivery of the project I will be pleased to keep you informed.
    Mike Blythe 07968729234

  4. Kwamla Hesse says:

    An interesting perspective on FB that I, to be honest, hadn’t given much consideration to. But it really does ring true. Its become the Tesco or Walmart of websites on the internet devouring all other social interactive web sites in its path…

    As a recent contributor to the Blackpresence I must confess surprise of only recently discovering it if its been going since 1998! I too have had a web presence since then. Even before, to be exact, 1996! But this in the early days when things like interactive social media, the ubiquitous Facebook and Twitter, were not even conceivable.

    I joined Facebook

  5. Kwamla Hesse says:

    Cont/…

    I joined Facebook in 2008 after reluctantly being introduced to it by a friend who has since abandoned it because of privacy issues. Prior to that it never occurred to me it might have as much success as it is having today. Like the growing rise of giant dominating supermarkets like Tesco or Walmart. They can be useful and convenient for one time shopping appearing to cater for all your immediate needs. But they do suffer from a controlling aspect wanting to exclusively pander to your every needs forcing you, indirectly, to abandon other more traditionally shopping outlets. Which then in turn suffer from a lower demand of their, sometimes, more quality services and products.

    Its easy to see the analogy here with Facebook. Which is why it occurred to me some years ago to open my own social media blog consolidating my own Facebook and Twitter posts. Much of which can get lost over the years in Facebook. Of course thats now changed since Facebook introduced its “Timeline” which allows you to go back to access several years posts. But the idea still remains to develop a blog which automatically writes up these interactions as a backup so that those conversations can continue and spawn new ones on your own personal blog. I am sure this is something a third programming party is at some point going to offer before Facebook gets wind of it and starts restricting access to your own data posts!

    Nevertheless, I believe there will always be a need for smaller quality services and products the big players like Tesco or Walmart can’t provide. The same goes for websites like Blackpresence and my own as long as they can find the time and resources to continue they may well even out last them!

  6. Amma says:

    Facebook has it’s uses and is good for reaching people worldwide! I will like your page/group

  7. Ama Biney says:

    I tend to agree with the emphasis of your argument. I rarely use Facebook myself as there are a wealth of other sources I prefer to use to inform myself. From time to time I will check it out but by no means am I addicted to it. Serious reading is also being damaged by Facebook. How many people can be honest with themselves and answer: how often do they pick up a serious book or Kindle to read these days and how often?

  8. dale says:

    im very grateful for what you have done over the years, long may it continue, we need this site, its so important to know where we came from and how to continue to forge ahead!

  9. Anon says:

    These things probably come in ebbs and flows. Do you know where your traffic was coming from previously? Perhaps at significant times in the news/political calendar? Any other demographics? Do you know which types of stories are most popular? Does the site have a mobile version? This might give some answers.

    I know it can be frustrating if you put a lot of effort into something and you are not getting the hits you expect, but as someone else mentioned, numbers are not important as long as some people are getting something out of it, unless you need more hits for revenue purposes?

    If revenue is an issue, perhaps you could look into transferring the content to another larger site as an archive or section of that site eg. the Race Relations Centre, National Archives etc.

    • Phil says:

      Hi, I know what you are saying. And ‘YES’ is the answer to all of the points you raised. a large proportion of Traffic was coming for Forums, which no longer exist. Forums have largely been killed or damaged by Spammers. That is why I replaced the Forums with a blog system. It isn’t as organic or as free flowing but hopefully the quality of content is better.

      With regards to integrating with another site, Of course I could but this site has been around too long to dillute it’s identity, I’m looking to strengthen not downsize. I do have a long term plan on the drawing board. In fact part of it is in Beta right now. So watch this space. Black Presence will still be here long after Facebook has faded away.

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