Some people hail Facebook as the small-budget marketer’s dream, while others claim it is a big waste of time that burns up resources without delivering business results. Which view is true?
For example, last week I joined a discussion on a LinkedIn group where several small business owners were reporting that time spent marketing on Facebook had generated little or no ROI. Someone cited the fact that General Motors recently pulled the plug on it’s $10 million annual Facebook Ads budget, declaring that the ads were ineffective.
I am of the opinion that Facebook Pages are a wonderful tool for talking to your customers and being found. In fact it has been proven that Facebook fans are far more likely to become paying customers. (And this was why GM only pulled their Facebook Ads, but it is intensively still maintaining it’s Facebook page.)
Nevertheless, I think that honest discussions around this topic are really valuable. There is a real question that small business owners need to ask themselves:
Is Facebook Marketing a Waste of Time for my particular business? Does it work for me?
I’ve put together a few pointed questions you should ask yourself about your Facebook page, based on work I’ve done with clients. They reflect common mistakes that people make in their Facebook marketing that might lead them to incorrectly conclude that it’s “not working”:
- How are you posting to Facebook? If you are posting to Facebook using a third-party client (e.g. Hootsuite), or via your email marketing software, or any other way other than heading over for some blue-screen time at Facebook.com – your Facebook marketing WILL be less effective. It has been proven in numerous times that posts made directly on Facebook generate far more response and engagement. Are you getting this simple but crucial point wrong?
- Is your industry Facebook-ish? At an SMX conference I attended earlier this year, one guy got up and complained that Facebook marketing was totally NOT working for his business. The Facebook expert on the stage asked him what product he was promoting and he said… wait for it… airline hangar construction! The expert rather tactfully pointed out the obvious: No one on Facebook is interested in discussing or sharing content even vaguely related to airline hangars. That was one rather extreme example of a product that is not suited to Facebook marketing, but for many of us it’s a gray area. If your business is B2C, I think that Facebook marketing can usually be effective. If you are in B2B, it can been more tricky. If your product/service is too “boring” to fit in with the pajama party atmosphere that prevails on Facebook, you will have to invest some real resources to come up with fabulous, creative ways to get people’s attention. This might not be possible for you right now. So put yourself out of your misery and head over to LinkedIn already.
- Are you Widening the Net? One of the most common mistakes people make in Facebook marketing is that they talk too much and too earnestly about their own business and industry. Unless your business happens to be photographing celebrities or fluffy kittens, you will find it hard to sustain interest among a broad audience. Therefore, lighten up and liven up your posts with personal comments, humor, graphics, and, of course, photos of celebrities and fluffy kittens :). It’s great if you can somehow tie these in with the topic of your page, but if not, that’s also OK occasionally.
- Are you too focused on Numbers? Many Facebook marketers are somewhat obsessed with the number of likes on their page. While it’s wonderful to have 20,000 likes, it is possible to market effectively on Facebook with only 100 genuine likes too. When people comment on your page, it’s a great way to begin a conversation with them, and you only need a few likes to get the ball rolling. It has been proven that anyone who you engages with you on Facebook, is likely to remember you and even become your customer at some point. So be helpful and responsive and make friends. A few good Facebook buddies will do much more for you than 1,000 anonymous likers.
- Who’s really wasting your time? It’s so easy to get sucked into the Facebook scene, spending hours every day watching cute videos, following blog links, and schmoozing with virtual buddies. Then we look back in frustration and say: “All that time on Facebook did not send me much business. Facebook marketing is such a waste of time!” So let’s be honest about the productivity of our time spent on Facebook. If we limited ourselves to 30 efficiently-spent minutes a day, or 1 hour, or just 15 minutes, we could nurture our relationships without the time suck. That’s what I’m working on!
The final comment I want to offer is from British web marketer Adam Rogers, of Extreme Creations, who offered this insight as part of that LinkedIn group discussion,:
“…using Facebook to drive sales is really misusing Facebook! Facebook is a wonderful platform for businesses but it must be used correctly to have a significant impact. It is an opportunity to communicate and interact with potential customers by way of giving them something for free such as advice. Facebook is also an exceptional tool for building brand awareness and brand perception and as a result it does impact on sales – just not directly. The main issue is that companies do not set out realistic goals for activity on Facebook and therefore use the “sales” figures as the only measure of success.”
Who’s wasting our time: Facebook or ourselves?