Do you have it backwards when it comes to Facebook?
Here’s what no one in the social media space seems to want to say: Facebook is a difficult place to reach new eyeballs organically if you do not already have good brand awareness.
There I said it. If you are trying to use Facebook to reach a new audience, organically (i.e. without paying for Ads), from scratch – you are facing an uphill battle.
Yes, the stats on how many Facebook users exist are mind-boggling. In reality most of those people will never actually encounter your brand on Facebook, unless you pay good money for them to. How many small business pages do you know that actually have millions of “˜fans’?
The fact is that Facebook is in the business of earning revenue – mostly through the ads they get page owners to buy. So for that reason they deliberately make it challenging to grow a page organically. So unless you have a strong personal Facebook network of friends that you are willing to leverage on behalf of your business page, you are looking at an uphill battle in actually reaching brand new eyeballs.
So Where Does Facebook Fit Into Your Strategy?
Surveys show that people generally fan pages they are already customers of, and usually for discounts. The same research shows that few people are interested in joining a page to become part of a community.
1. I suggest that you use Facebook to connect with your existing customers AFTER they’ve already bought from you – rather than trying to use Facebook to mine for leads. This is the path of least resistance. Since they already know you, they are more likely to interact with your page – crucial for organic growth on Facebook.
2. Use other methods (SEO, PPC, blogging, offline methods etc) to bring in prospects, generate leads and make sales.
3. The time you might spend slugging away on Facebook could be better spent growing your following and brand visibility elsewhere – preferably on platforms you own, such as your blog, and developing other marketing channels (even tweeting gives you better access to a new audience). Your Facebook page can be a resource to direct people to for promotions and additional interaction after they discover you elsewhere.
4. Examine your online sales process and work with your offline sales staff to integrate a way to ask the prospect or customer what social networks they are on. Build fields for this data into your online contact forms and if you have an offline sales staff you will have to work with them to collect that info when talking with prospect and clients.
5. Make someone on your staff responsible for finding these people on Facebook, connecting with them and inviting them to your Page. This will actually require the use of a personal profile since you cannot message anyone directly through a Page.
6. Find a place in the sales/follow-up process to let your customer know that your company has a Facebook page and give them reasons why they should become a fan. As per the research above -the incentive should probably emphasize exclusive discounts and promotions.
7. Consider Facebook as a tool in your “˜referral engine’ – if your Fans are happy customers, Facebook makes it easy for them to recommend you to friends and to provide your business with “˜social proof’ i.e. people saying nice things about you. This is where you have the opportunity to organically grow your audience, powered by happy customers.
8. Make sure you feed your Page with the right content for your audience. You probably know the needs of your customers pretty well, but check in with your Facebook Insights to make sure you are catering to the correct demographic audience, and to the type of content that elicits interaction, especially as your audience grows beyond your familiar customer base.
How has your small business successfully used Facebook for marketing?
About The Guest Author: Lucy Beer, of Web Training Wheels, works with small businesses and entrepreneurs to help them develop effective online marketing strategies and also provides WordPress training.
Great Post! Thanks a million!!!
I created a Fan Page a few months ago, for my new book Communication Skills Magic, and I already have 14 Fans – Yippee! I mean… 🙁
So, yes, needless to say, I am a bit frustrated about it…
Thanks for the great article! This really helped.
Yes it’s definitely a challenging task! I noticed you have a lot of Twitter followers and a good number of personal friends on Facebook – have you cross-promoted your Facebook page to them?
Thanks for your comment
Interesting post. I recently created a fan (“like”) page for my EGO blog and podcast. It will be used for bonus stuff for my readers and listeners, updates for upcoming podcast show, feedback and discussions, etc.
You are right on the money. I have often contended that FB et al deliver mushy metrics and are a time sink for SMBs. I approach them with caution because just a handful of my clients have achieved success via Social Media. Beyond that there are critical questions Facebook MUST answer in order to be considered a legitimate advertising medium. More here
Excellent post, very enlightening. I think you hit the nail on the head with this one. Just a tweak in the perception/expectations makes having a facebook page/business twitter account worth the time & effort invested.
You just saved me from taking the leap into the abyss of making a large time/energy commitment for a little gain. I’ll now concentrate elsewhere and use FB on the tail end.
What do you think about advertising on Facebook to find new customers for our online business?
I agree. Great perspective! I would apply the same principles to other popular social networking sites including LinkedIn, MySpace, Twitter, and even YouTube.
Jumping on the bandwagon just because everyone is doing it, is rarely justified…
So glad to read your take on Facebook for business. I created a wall, set up a pay per click account, and have waited for anything to happen. Have yet to have to pay for a single click for Route 66. Have not had a single adoption as a fan, a fave, a friend with this.
Yet, I saw an article in USA Today on Thursday about 2 businesses that attribute their success to being on facebook and twitter. So I went back to Google, and found you. Think I’ll chalk the 2 businesses up to the ‘oddity’ rather than the ‘norm’.
Yes. I completely agree with your thoughts. I have been able to build a strong twitter following, but have been really challenged with the facebook page. Thanks for making it clear to me. I am going to modify our strategy and see what happens.
I absolutely agree with you that most people are on FB to personally connect. However, if they are already friends of yours and have interacted with your business you probably will stand a better chance in getting their attention on FB for “special” promotions. I am currently developing a fan page for my brother, an investment advisor. Who will use the fanpage as a marketing tool to generate venture capital for a new community based project.
It seems like these Community pages will become irrelevant, especially since they are a messy hodge podge of information. This is virtually putting the activity of brand community management for all brands into the hands of FB, a task they are not capable of properly managing or maintaining.
Thank you for taking the time to post this information. I really need to work on my Facebook business page and this page will help me.
People log into Facebook for entertainment and as a time killer. Most people do not want to be hammered with marketing messages over and over in between status updates from their friends. If someone has taken the time to click the “like” button your your business page, it is important to stay engaging and interesting by posting updates that do not read like straight advertising copy. For my business, we like to post a lot of poll questions and fun links to keep things light hearted, while occasionally putting product updates and price specials that customers may find useful.