Do Brands Need to be on Facebook?

Making dinner this evening (Rice-a-Roni, if you must know) my wife and I struck up a conversation over my love of Chicken flavored Rice-a-Roni.

As I was waxing poetic about the fine line between browning or burning the vermicelli, I decided to check out the San Francisco treat’s Facebook page.

Just nine days ago, Rice-a-Roni decided to quit Facebook.

rice

I was genuinely surprised and explained to my wife the news having “just wanted to see what Rice-a-Roni was up to on Facebook…” She completed the sentence with her sarcastic voice “yeah, said nobody ever.

Most everyone, especially Catholics (Lent!), have had friends quit Facebook for a while (99 days of freedom). Other friends sort of phase it out of their lives, using it sparingly. But rare is the person who tells everyone they’re quitting for good. Even more rare is the person who doesn’t come crawling back and have to wear a scarlet letter.

I only know of one person who declared it, did it, and didn’t come back (so far).

When it comes to loving, er, “liking,” Rice-a-Roni, I am not alone. 212,000 people opted to “like” the page on Facebook… Which is not a small audience. Admittedly, it’s not large, either — White Castle only has locations in a handful of states and has about 5 times as many “likes.”

Alas, I was intrigued that a brand like Rice-a-Roni decided to call it quits on Facebook. Assuming they didn’t buy “likes” or advertise to coerce fans to “like” the page, they probably spent a fair amount of money on it.

Many brands — especially those in the service industries — spend a small fortune on in-house or outsourced social media teams. And Rice-a-Roni is part of Quaker Oats, a division of PepsiCo, so it’s not some mom and pop food company with a following.

So, why quit Facebook?

Is it that Rice-a-Roni is a simple product, a staple even, and it just is what it is? No cult following? Not a lot of complaints or social media mentions? Even their goodbye earned a whopping six likes over the course of nine days. To be fair, their last social media post was in February and the frequency with which posts appear in the feeds of those who “Like” something depend on a lot of factors, one of which is engagement. (TL, DR: Don’t post much, you won’t get much engagement.)

Perhaps, but how does Knorr, a competitor of sorts, have 10 million Facebook likes?

A lot of money? Do people prefer Knorr’s products to Rice-a-Roni’s? Or is it that they just offer more of them that can be used in a more diverse manner? (Answer: a combination of both.)

But, I think the fundamental question here is whether there is a measurable level of ROI for static brands like Rice-a-Roni to justify spending big on social.

Perhaps Quaker Oats did that cost/benefit analysis and concluded the ROI was too low.

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