With social media all the buzz, and Facebook at the heart of the social networking storm, many companies that have not yet created a presence on Facebook are feeling escalating pressure to do so.
I’ve talked to some clients who are haunted by the fear that, since their companies are not on Facebook, they must be missing out on something. But they have no idea what that “something” is. Here’s some advice. Don’t rush to put up a page because everyone else is doing it.
True, Facebook charges nothing, it doesn’t take much time to create a starter business page and adding the Facebook widget to your company’s website is simple. But the setup is the easy part. What you really need to decide is if having a page on Facebook is going to help you grow your business and is worth the investment of time and resources.
Facebook is a platform that enables 500+ million people to connect with trusted friends. It also is a forum for people to talk about themselves and share their likes and dislikes. Here’s the thing. Not every product or service is something that people want to publicly talk about. There are lots of things that people would never consider associating themselves with on Facebook.
I recommend using this evaluation criteria to help you decide whether your company should be on Facebook:
- First off, you need a strategy for how you are going to incorporate Facebook into all your other marketing activities and drive traffic to your page. “Build it and they will come” is not a strategy.
- Have concrete objectives. Is a Facebook presence intended to attract, acquire or retain customers for your business?
- Are your target customers on Facebook? Are they more likely to be using another social media platform instead, like Twitter? Or, maybe you sell to a segment, like elderly seniors, that has not taken to social media?
- Take a good look in the mirror. Is what your company sells something that people will gladly talk about on their personal pages and suggest to their friends? If you sell products to businesses, are your customers really going to want to overlap their work lives and their personal lives on their Facebook pages?
- Make sure that you can commit the time and resources to build and evolve the business page. Posts and comments should be responded to promptly. Do you have the staff to do this ongoing work?
- Come up with a plan for how to build community and get people to like your company’s page. A business page without any likes or fans is a lonely place and can be a turn-off to the customers you are hoping to attract.
- Get comfortable with the reality that you don’t control your business page. Your company will invest time and money creating and maintaining it and, without any warning, Facebook can change the business page template, as they just did last week. Surprise!
- Know that any contests, competitions or other marketing activities you run have to comply with Facebook’s promotional guidelines. This isn’t a bad thing. You just need to realize that you are not free to do anything you’d like. Facebook sets the rules.
We are in a consumer-driven world where engaging and participating with customers offline and online is essential to achieve customer satisfaction and spark word of mouth referrals. Facebook is helping a lot of companies do that and more. But, while Facebook is well-suited for many businesses, it is not necessarily a worthwhile marketing endeavor for all types of companies. Just think about it.