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
I totally agree with everything that you’ve said. My current Facebook business page fans are 112, after 4 years on the site, and I had to pay for most of them.
But my current Google+ followers are 201 with no payment at all. I just engage with them and really love the Communities.
I’m closing my Facebook business page at the end of the year. I thought about holding out to see what the Buy Now button would do, but I’m just ready to get off of the site.
It’s a shame, because there ARE brands/companies who have huge success on Facebook – but for most small business, it’s a lot of time and effort (and money) for very little in return. As long as you ensure that you do have an online social presence on other sites, I don’t blame you for ditching Facebook.
And who knows? If you build a great community on Google+ – and the ‘Buy Now’ button ends up being amazing – then you might even be able to start again on Facebook with your loyal followers :)
Louise, I agree with most of your article and I too would say that large competitive companies should find other means to grow their followers. I found personally though that I’ve been contacted by many Facebook followers via my email and I must add that depending what kind of small business, it does have it’s advantages.
Most large companies or small businesses that wants to grow fast would probably have to investigate other options however, even with a communication medium only it also assists being around on Facebook.
Your article is informative and interesting to read as I am always interested keeping up with the general feeling towards any social medium.
I’m glad that you’ve had some engagement with your Facebook business page – may I ask what area of business you’re in? Like I said in the post, every business is different and, of course, there are those who will have Facebook success.
Thanks for taking the time to read my article, I’m glad you found it informative :)
Louise Dickens recently posted..Let’s Play Office Bingo!
I am agree with you. Not only facebook, almost all social platform follow same strategies. No one talks about promoting business or generating leads without paid ads.
Thanks for reading, I would disagree with your statement that all social follow the same strategies. I mean, yes, they do all push for business to use their paid ad services – but that’s a given. However, Twitter has no restrictions on who sees your organic posts (unlike Facebook) – and Google+ gives you the option to share your content with specific ‘circles’.
For small business, I think these features enable small businesses to reach and grow their audiences much more effectively.
Louise Dickens recently posted..The Ergonomics of a Chair Explained
Totally agree. One of the biggest issues with Facebook nowadays is that it’s a pay to play method of advertising. It’s nearly impossible to see real traction with gaining a following organically; the only real way to grow your audience on that platform is to spend money through Facebook Ads. Instagram has become the same way.
A lot of new accounts are often tempted to use follower apps to build up their following too, which is also a big mistake, because it gives an unauthorized application your username and password in the guise of more likes and follows.
The best things you can do is engage regularly with your audience; use the right hashtags to increase visibility; post frequently and at peak hours; and create engaging content, whether it’s photo or video format.
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