So I’m going to go all out and say it: If you’re a new business, don’t bother setting up a Facebook page. Just please, don’t.
I know; with their 556 million daily users, you’d think Facebook would be one of the first ports of call in your social media marketing plan.
But if you stop and think about it, you’ll begin to see that Facebook is actually a waste of time for most small businesses, and here’s why:
You can’t build an organic following on Facebook
During your competitor research, you decide to look up Competitor A and B on Facebook, to see how they’re doing.
Woah! In a mad rush, you proclaim to your boss that Competitor A has thousands of followers, and then immediately regret. Your boss goes on to say that if they can do it, so can we – and it’s now your job to make that happen.
Where to start? You might look closely at the sort of content Competitor A produces, and attempt to replicate it. You might even better Competitor A’s content, and post far more quality photos and articles.
A few months later, has this worked out for you? Probably not. Sure you might have picked up a few followers her and there, but you’re still nowhere near to hitting your competitor’s numbers.
I know, it’s very annoying (and you might even think, “what am I doing wrong?!”).
The problem is, the popular brands on Facebook (Coca-Cola, Nike, Red Bull etc.) – they already had a large and loyal following before joining Facebook. So of course, when they joined Facebook and set up a page, their thousands – heck, millions – of pre-existing followers (who were already using Facebook anyway) were hanging on every single piece of content.
But if you don’t already have that loyal following, or some form of pre-existing community – don’t expect Facebook to grow one for you. It doesn’t work that way.
You can’t sell on Facebook
What we seem to forget, is that Facebook started as a form of communication and social interaction between people. And that’s the key word there; individual people.
And what do people use Facebook for? One study asked 623 Facebook users this exact question, and here’s what they found out:
Nowhere does is state that the everyday user uses Facebook to learn more about brands and/or businesses, or to shop online.
I mean think about it, you’re re-designing your kitchen and you fancy treating yourself to a brand new fridge. Is Facebook your first port of call? Probably not. You’re either going to go straight to a recognizable online shop such as Argos, or use Google to shop around for some good deals.
“It’s free advertising!”
Okay, so I was guilty of thinking this was true when I first started in marketing.
But, unfortunately with most social media sites, and especially Facebook, this is nothing more than a cruel myth that puts misplaced hope into the hearts of young marketers everywhere
“That any business would believe that they’re entitled to essentially ‘advertise their business for free,’ on any medium, is naïve at best.” – Peter Shankman
Oh Shankman, how naïve I was.
At the end of the day, Facebook is a business too. It needs to generate revenue somehow, and in agreement of Peter Shankman – why would a business let you promote your business on their site for free? They wouldn’t.
Facebook want you to pay for ads – and they’ve slashed the organic reach of business posts down to just 1-2% to make it virtually impossible for any business to get far on Facebook without ads.
And Facebook ads are more affordable than other types of marketing, but for your small business, they’re still going to cut a huge chunk out of your marketing budget (and some of you won’t even have a specific marketing budget!).
Don’t believe the hype
You might look at all the “success stories” out there and think perhaps it’s something that you are doing wrong.
Trust me, it’s not that. It just doesn’t work. Tim Grahl debunked some common social media myths in his latest blog post, and this is what he said:
“I’ve gotten the chance to pull the curtain back several times, and the truth is always much more mundane than you think. Here’s the common things I’ve seen in “successful” social media campaigns:
- It wasn’t actually successful. This is the most common. We see something bouncing around the social mediaverse and assume it must be selling like hotcakes. Once you get a look behind the scenes though, it’s not usually the case.
- There was something else going on. For the successful campaigns, there was usually something else going on that wasn’t as public.
- The scale was enormous. Again, the successes I’ve seen selling things via social media is because the scale was enormous. Your 5k, 10k or 50k followers/fans aren’t going to generate many sales for you – bottom line, you’re going to have to pay for that marketing.”
So, a lot of the time, the hype is just that; hype.
It’s not just small businesses
And it’s not just small businesses, Eat24 had 70,000 Facebook followers when it wrote this break-up letter to Facebook (if you haven’t seen this, where have you been?!), leaving the social network for good.
But don’t give up on social media completely!
Now don’t get me wrong – there are going to be small businesses who have great success with Facebook. But for the majority of you, I’d rather not get your hopes up.
And please, don’t think I’m bashing social media marketing in general – because I’m not at all. My personal new favorite for gaining new audiences is Google+, which is where we currently have our highest number engaging fans (yay!).
And I’m all for being proved wrong, so if you’ve had great success with Facebook then comment below and let me know!
Louise Dickens has a background in journalism and currently works in content working for ChairOffice