Should we be on Facebook? As a small business person, that’s the question you’re asking. More than likely, though, you don’t really even know what it means to be “on Facebook.” You’ve just heard that there are nearly a billion people on Facebook and, of course, a great portion of them must be potential customers. You’ve also heard many stories, some from people you know, about businesses finding customers on Facebook. So, what’s the answer? Should you be on Facebook? Well, yes, I believe you should. But that’s the wrong question. The right question is “Why should you be on Facebook and how does Facebook fit into your overall marketing strategy?” Let’s dig a little deeper…
The most dangerous problem businesses get themselves into is trying to establish their community on Facebook (or any other platform for that matter, but especially Facebook). They try to drive traffic to Facebook, as if Facebook is where you want your customers to ultimately end up. This approach is completely backwards. Facebook should be used as a source for traffic, not a destination. You don’t want customers to find you ON Facebook. You want them to find you FROM Facebook (Tweet this).
What If Facebook Disappears?
The reason, of course, that you don’t want to build your community on Facebook is that you don’t own the platform. Facebook can change anything at anytime, alienating you from your audience. This fact is something you must realize right here and now: you don’t own your Facebook fans; Facebook owns them. And, whatever Facebook decides, you have to deal with the fallout.
Remember MySpace? Yeah, that’s right. There was social networking before Facebook. 5 years ago, MySpace was the king of social networking. Now, almost no one knows what it is. It has re-branded itself as a music website, but it’s no longer king. Certainly, it’s no longer a place for the everyday businesses to bother having a presence. My point? Facebook could very easily suffer the same fate. If you focus all of your efforts on building a community on Facebook, what will you do when that happens?
Facebook’s IPO last May was disappointing to say the least and expectations have not improved. The user experience is in a constant state if disarray. Not a day goes by that I don’t see a complaint about the network showing up in my newsfeed. This blatant disregard of how people feel about the platform can only go on for so long. Pretty soon, it’s all going to fall apart.
3 Reasons Why Facebook is Becoming Less and Less Attractive for Businesses
- EdgeRank significantly diminishes your reach. You may not realize this, but Facebook doesn’t allow all of your fans (or people who “like” your page”) to see your posts (unlike other networks such as Twitter and, to an extent, Google Plus). As a matter of fact, on average, only 16% of a businesses fans see their updates. EdgeRank is an algorithm that Facebook uses to determine which people see which updates. (By the way, this works for individual users of Facebook as well; not just Facebook pages). In other words, if a person decides that she wants to give you permission to share content with her (which is what she’s doing when she “likes” your page), Facebook tells her that she’s only allowed to see it if she engages in certain behavior. So, yes, you can increase the percentage of people who see your updates. but Facebook’s algorithm will never allow all of the people who like your page will never see all of your updates.
- Promoted posts and ads don’t work. What do I mean, ‘They don’t work?’ You exclaim, “Facebook Ads have gotten me hundreds of new likes!” Okay, so they do work. That is, they do what they say they will do. They give you more “fans” on a platform that you don’t own and to which they may or may not share your updates. Congratulations. They worked. When Facebook ads allow me to place an ad for my website instead of my Facebook page, maybe then I’ll be interested. What about “promoted posts?” If I pay a little, I can be almost certain that people see my updates. But you’re missing the point? Promoted posts show up in the newsfeed of people who already “like” your page; so, Facebook is charging businesses (and individual users) to show updates to people who have already agreed to see their updates. Sound sketchy? I think so.
Photo Attribution: Dangerous Minds.
So, If Not Facebook, Then What?
First, let me be clear about something. I believe that most businesses should have a Facebook page. People still use Facebook and you need to have a presence there to meet them. However, your purpose should not be to build a community on Facebook. It should be to draw people away from Facebook to your website. If you can create a community of people on your website, you will have control over the medium, the message, and the reach. What you need is a company blog.
Your company blog is the Facebook of your website. It’s how you share interesting and informative content that people can interact with–on a platform that you own. I’m not suggesting that you create a blog as an alternative to Facebook; I’m suggesting you create a blog as a destination to drive people to from Facebook. Have you started blogging? Have you considered it? What’s your excuse if you haven’t? Chances are, I’ve already refuted it.
I don’t want to get too much into blogging. I simply wanted to point out there are ways for you to interact with customers and potential customers on your own website. That’s where you want them to end up. That’s where they play by your rules. That’s the destination. Not Facebook. Not Twitter. Not YouTube. Bring them to something you can control. If you can’t do that, you don’t really have anything at all.