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Your Business Doesn’t Need A Facebook Page

I’ll start this post with the disclaimer that the title may be a little misleading. This article won’t argue that businesses can’t benefit from Facebook pages but it won’t kneel at the altar of Zuckerberg either.  The goal here is to shed some light on misconceptions generated by “social media gurus” about the importance of Facebook pages for business, and why your business probably doesn’t need one.  

no_facebook

Social media marketers will extoll the merits of Facebook fan pages because, well, they’re drinking their own Kool Aid. They will share usage statistics such as the average amount of time a typical Facebook user spends on the site every day is 55 minutes, which is a good amount of time to engage potential customers. When combined with Facebook Pages features and benefits that may include a possible boost in your site’s SEO, community building opportunities, and direct customer targeting and tracking, a good case can be made for an investment in the social media platform.

This week Sheryl Sandberg and Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s COO and CEO respectively, penned a thank you letter to business owners who have advertised on the popular social media site. This is not surprising since there are now a reported two million businesses actively advertising on Facebook.

If we are to heed James Surowiecki, the author of the popular book The Wisdom of Crowds, we’d all be jumping on the social bandwagon and creating Facebook pages for our businesses because “the many are smarter than the few.” With so many people active on Facebook and so many businesses advertising to those people, you’d be crazy not to have your business represented there.

Or would you?

Why Your Business Doesn’t Need A Facebook Page       

In a recent conversation Howie Goldfarb, who blogs at Blue Star Marketing, shared the following insights:

Coca Cola has pretty much abandoned their Facebook page…in the last 2.5 years they sometimes go 2-3 months between posts and don’t comment on fan posts, many of which are attacks on the brand for the increasing obesity of the American population. 

Starbucks was never big on Facebook, despite being touted as an early success story in terms of number of fans. In fact, for a very long period of time, it shared nothing at all.

If two very successful brands are rarely engaging their audiences through Facebook pages, why should your business? Forrester analyst Nate Elliott reports that top brands’ Facebook and Twitter posts only reach around 2% of their fans and followers, and less than 0.1% of fans and followers actually interact with each post on average.  Facebook got many people hooked with a free business marketing platform but then, like any good drug dealer, began charging for that to which we became addicted.

The reality is that the customer relationships that Facebook and social media marketers promised to deliver aren’t always available in these large social networks. Online brand communities that were created on sites like Facebook are now relegated to serving up ads and/or “boosted posts” to get the audience’s attention. Brand communications in these channels have been forced back into advertising, the very thing that social media was not supposed to be. Is it any surprise that businesses like Coca Cola and Starbucks have limited their time engaging customers on Facebook?

Invest In Your Own Website

Social networking sites like Facebook will continue to rake in millions in ad dollar revenue but as Elliot shares in his Forrester analysis, “they’re just not the most important sites for social marketers anymore.”  Instead of building communities on disparate social networking platforms, why not re-invest that budget into improving inbound leads and building true engagement on your own website or smaller, niche community sites?

Branded communities are not dying; they’re shifting away from many of these third party social networking sites. Savvy marketers are adjusting budgets to create more social interactivity on their own websites including independently managed brand communities powered by software such as TicTalking Communities.

Corporate websites are – finally – becoming the center of the business’s engagement ecosystem. A recent Forrester survey shows that US online adults who want to stay in touch with your brand are almost three times as likely to visit your site as to engage you on Facebook. In fact, the same study reports that online adults are almost twice as likely to sign up for your business emails as interact with your business on Facebook. Now consider that the majority of your emails are delivered to subscribers but non-paid Facebook post are only delivered to an estimated 2% of your fans. Which would you choose to invest in? Continue to invest in schemes that increase “Likes” and fans on Facebook or create more interest in direct email marketing and on-website engagement?

Why Sensei Does Not Have a Facebook Page

Facebook Business Page Kittens

Aww…it’s a kitteh!

Unlike many of my colleagues in this industry, Sensei Marketing does not have a Facebook page and I’d say that a week does not go by that I’m not questioned on this. The answer is simple: Our customers don’t want to hear from us on Facebook.

Sure, as individuals they probably have Facebook profiles and may even be part of the demographic that spends up to an hour a day engaging there. However, experience tell us that most are there to stay in touch with their family and friends, laugh at pictures of cats flushing the toilet or playing Words with Friends. It’s a diversion or “down time” vs. “business time” and that’s not a conducive environment to building a professional relationship between my business and its clients.

Sensei receives more customer inquiries from the engagement we generate on our website, which is predominantly a blog that shares the insights of its principals, than we would ever generate on a social networking site where the latest celebrity gossip is going viral. (What WAS the color of that damn dress?!)

Now let’s get back to my original statement: We’re not suggesting that all businesses abandon Facebook and other social networks. Local businesses, where owners and staff can also have personal relationships with prospects, customers, and advocates, could do very well at generating leads and improving customer service. In fact, while Sensei does not have a Facebook profile, we’ve created and manage successful business pages for some of our clients. The key is to centralize the customer relationship at the place of business or on the corporate website and use social channels as feeders.

The point is don’t follow the advice of every “social media rock star” and social marketing software salesperson who claims they can improve your business through Facebook engagement. Think independently.

Social media marketing success won’t come from just advertising on Facebook (which is really what Facebook for business is). It’s about developing an ongoing relationship with your audience that will start with prospects who turn into customers and customers who turn into advocates. If that relationship is centralized on a social network where you’re paying to engage a small segment of your potential audience while competing with the latest BuzzFeed video, how successful can you be? The customer relationship promised by social media marketing must be owned and centralized on your own digital properties.

Sensei Debates

How important is a Facebook page to the social media marketing success of businesses?

Sam Fiorella
Feed Your Community, Not Your Ego

23357

Join the Conversation

16 comments
KarloGesner
KarloGesner 5pts

I'm seriously considering getting rid of my business page, but i'm nervous/hesitant.  I feel like I get more connection through my personal profile and would rather focus my online marketing energy into my Blog & YouTube.  I'm a Wedding & Commercial Photographer, my name is part of the brand and I find it kind of redundant to create another profile I have to manage when I could do the same & probably get more reach through my personal page.  

scribewolf712
scribewolf712 5pts

I really appreciated this article and your thoughtful insights. I sensed the shallow pool of facebook advertising and reach, but I think your words here really helped to formulate my thoughts in a more cohesive way onto why that actually is. Thanks for that.

OlivierVEROT
OlivierVEROT 5pts

So true. Most of BtB Business do not really need a Facebook Page. 

Not big advantages... 

waste of Time 

and People on Facebook only foward low level information. 

Twetaz
Twetaz 5pts

Interesting article for sure and plenty of valid points. I disagree with the Coca-Cola not being active point. In Denmark they average a post every 2-3 days and during some times of the year it is every day they post. 


I have worked a lot with Coca-Cola and most projects have all had a social element with Facebook being a priority. However, some markets may just be more active than others as Coca-Cola has a global page setup.


Having a strong website that is user friendly is important, especially if you have a webshop or are trying to convert newsletter signups or the like. 


I believe that brands need to learn to better utilize their fans and followers across social media. Sticking with  Facebook as the example, it has indeed become a 'pay for play' platform. However it is still one of the cheaper options for reaching your specific target audience. Facebook ad types have been drastically improved and with conversion pixels you can further segment users by their actions on your website. 


With the pay for play mentality and the lower organic engagement rates, targeted advertising on Facebook becomes increasingly important. Being tactical about your audiences and segments is essential to reach your audience and creating the correct message for each one.


Granularly segmenting audiences allows you to build a nurture flow to guide consumers to take a desired action. This action could simply be getting them to read more on your website, sign up for a whitepaper, email address or getting them to make a purchase. I have seen great success with the use of Facebook ads for clients. 


Taking it even a step further, is linking CRM data to social media fans and follower data. This requires manual work and isnt necessarily possible to completely for all brands, but connecting these gives even more ability to guide them back through the sales funnel and gain insight into the purchase value of your communities. 



jmctigue
jmctigue 5pts

It's interesting that you didn't mention LinkedIn, which can be a great content promotion and relationship building social network if used right. While we do build corporate LinkedIn company pages, those are really just reference points for engaging with other company members. The action is in getting thought leaders active in sharing content (not just their own), participating in groups and connecting with other thought leaders in the industry. I would put Quora in this category also. Granted, this is mostly B2B, but even the promoted posts still seem to be driving qualified leads to the website. In other words, it hasn't suffered the same exhaustion as Facebook or even Twitter, at least not yet.

samfiorella
samfiorella moderator 5pts

@jmctigue Correct, I didn't include LinkedIn because that's an entirely different animal to Facebook for businesses. Unlike Facebook, people logging in to LinkedIn are more inclined to participate in business conversations - for educational purposes or for transacting actual business. 


I'm not satisfied with the gamification occurring on LinkedIn (by both the social network and the users trying to be "influencers" on Pulse) but it is certainly more conducive to community building for B2B organizations than Facebook. 

ChandaGunter
ChandaGunter 5pts

While I agree that your business doesn't have to have a Facebook page, your primary point is false; Coca-Cola and Starbucks are very active in posting to their Facebook page, so I'm a bit confused. Replying to the posts left by their community, as Howie mentioned, would be almost impossible to keep up with for a mega brand.

samfiorella
samfiorella moderator 5pts

@ChandaGunter Thanks for joining the debate. 


As Danny said, 6 posts by Starbucks this year, with no discernible strategy, is not a social brand on FB. Before that they only posted twice in December, the busiest retailing month of the year. 


Also, my "primary point" is not how Coca Cola or Starbucks use Facebook Pages - they're just an example of the primary point: Facebook does not necessarily deliver the brand-customer engagement that many expected. And that's OK.

If you take a look at the volume of activity on MyStarbucksIdea - an owned brand community - and compare that to their activity on Facebook, you'll see my point. For many businesses, Facebook has become an ad platform when the real social brand-consumer engagement is happening, succesfully, elsewhere. 

Danny Brown
Danny Brown 5pts

When you're a monopoly like Coke or McDonalds, you don't need to be gung-ho on social media - it simply becomes a side project.

Consultants that push social as the "new business must have where you need to evolve or die" are either living in a dream world, or are trying to shill clients for extra marketing budgets. They need to wake up and step away from the roses.

samfiorella
samfiorella moderator 5pts

@Danny Brown I do believe that "social is the new marketing" but not in the way most marketers define it or try to sell it. Social isn't necessarily about engaging fans on social networks. It's a change from broadcast advertising to a more interactive and inclusive style of communicating, which isn't defined or contained by social networks. 

Social media has trained consumers to demand and expect more engagement; the Internet has placed a lot more power in the hands of consumers. This new style of brand-consumer engagement is often more effective in brand-owned channels where consumers can be better segmented, pinned to a specific stage in the life cycle, qualified,  and then managed by the appropriate people within the organization (or, where appropriate, by automation).


 It's a more scalable solution - and one that allows for better business intelligence gathering. But what do I know.  

Howie Goldfarb
Howie Goldfarb 5pts

Love all your points here Sam! I also have done some 'scale' math for large companies. Meaning how many 'social media' workers a brand would need to communicate on social with people. I would say 'What if all 35 mil Starbucks Fans all asked 1 question today on Facebook...or 1 million?' and the number is cost prohibitive. Even if someone could do 1 response a minute. That is 500 people they can response to. That is 2000 people to handle 1 million people. It is why the big brands stopped thanking people for mentioning them.....some will favorite your tweet or Like your comment but many can't handle that and just focus on the % needing real attention. So in reality and I posted this in 2010 Social Media is not scalable without having computers responding and that really isn't social without humans. 

Cheers!

samfiorella
samfiorella moderator 5pts

@Howie Goldfarb Excellent point - for larger businesses "being human" is a physical impossibility  - unless, as we've done with some larger clients, they create localized communities and embrace customer advocates to speak on behalf of the brand. 


Funny, we've spent the last  7 - 10 years trying to build the largest online followings possible only to realize that the larger they grow the more important one-to-one conversations are. 

Trackbacks

  1. […] part have abandoned their social media presence on Facebook and Twitter. As my friend Sam Fiorella wrote about yesterday they can’t have a personal connection with customers like a small business can. I ran social […]

  2. […] Your Business Doesn’t Need A Facebook Page. The customer relationships promised aren’t always available in these large social networks.  […]

  3. […] can create a Facebook page to keep your personal account and business apart. Sam Fiorella wrote: Your business don’t need a Facebook page. He favours the idea of building community on your own business website instead. With decreasing […]

  4. […] If we are to heed James Surowiecki, the author of the popular book The Wisdom of Crowds, we’d all be jumping on the social bandwagon and creating Facebook pages for our businesses because “the many are smarter than the few.” With so many people active on Facebook and so many businesses advertising to those people, you’d be crazy not to have your business represented there.Read Full Story  […]

  5. […] and certainly why they should be wasting their time on Facebook. There are some analysts, including these guys, who say “Big companies like Coke have ignored their Facebook page, maybe there’s no […]


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