Let’s start this post off with a little quiz. How many daily users does Facebook have? Well, the most recent estimates from Facebook claim 400 million users, about 50% of which check their Facebook page each and every single day, so 200 million daily users sounds like a pretty reasonable estimate.
I can almost see the cogs turning in your head at this moment:
“Oh WOW! I’ve heard SO MUCH about Facebook. I need to make a Facebook fan page for my small business!”
No. Bad. Stop it! I can tell you that you don’t need a Facebook page right now. You don’t need a fan page or a profile page for promotions, (with a few certain exceptions) getting people to ‘like’ you on Facebook is nearly pointless, and those 239487 friends are basically worthless. Here’s why:
1. Last time I checked, Facebook users weren’t heading to the department store. They aren’t there to purchase things. Facebook is a social website. Facebook’s patrons use the site to chat with friends, tag photos, change their status, and buy chickens for their farm in Farmville. They aren’t shopping. Does anyone remember the huge fervor over Digg traffic and Stumbleupon traffic? Tell me, when you get traffic from those sites, what do the users do? Do they purchase anything..?
2. You’re dealing with a very young age set. Even though adults (especially parents) have been gradually migrating to the dark side, the greatest quantity of Facebook patrons are under 35 or so, with the biggest chunk of them college students or recent college graduates. You’ll also find a very healthy high school age population.
Well, I’ve got bad news for you. College students won’t have cash to buy your stuff! How wonderful your product is doesn’t really enter into it. It will vary by exact product and case, but I’m put money on the honest fact that 60% or more of internet marketers are hawking products that just don’t really compare to necessities like textbooks, car leases, rent payments, and Friday night alcohol. Oh and that gullible high school population? They don’t even have credit cards.
3. People will only become a fan (or ‘liker’, since it’s now ‘like’) of things they honestly CARE about. Every single day I am assaulted with literally hundreds of notifications on my news feed about my acquaintances liking things I really couldn’t care less about. Each and every carefully, I carefully ignore these people. If they spam me too much with their garbage, I remove them from my news feed. You need to consider why you’re making a fan page.
Are you hoping to raise public awareness of your plumbing business or direct mail agency? Facebook users will only ‘like’ things they already know and CARE about. If you’re hoping to raise awareness by persuading them to ‘like’ something they don’t even know or care about, you’re just kidding yourself.
4. After you have the Facebook page, you’ve gotta maintain it. Invitations and friend requests have to made. New materials and promotions have to be updated. Junk you don’t care about has to be deleted. In the end, the time you spend messing around with your Facebook page will never see a justifiable ROI.
You’ll get so trapped in a routine of refreshing your promotions and news, updating your status, sending pitiful invitations to become a fan, and generally making a nuisance of yourself that you’ll forget what your original business plan was: selling things that people want to improve their standard of living and make them happy. How could you have forgotten? By spending all of your day chasing after people who don’t care about you OR your product, and are never going to be happy.
But Wait…What About?!?! (Exceptions)
I can hear you already. It worked for you this one time… You have this friend…You read in the news…
Yes, of course there are exceptions.
I know my ‘rules’ aren’t all-encompassing maxims and it can work for certain circumstances. The most significant of those is Facebook’s power to utilize a localized experience. Facebook lets you to find and target users in a certain city region or school network. This can be particularly useful when you have a small business located near a university, since you can laser target users that go to school at that university.
This can be efficient use of resources if you own a restaurant, bar or club. If you operate one of these businesses, you absolutely need to be promoting on Facebook. The key to an effective Facebook campaign is to keep new content going out constantly. Facebook users have developed or acquired a 5 second attention span. You need to give them reasons to immediately CARE about what your business has to offer via the Facebook page. Women’s happy hour on Mondays? Buy one order of wings, get one 50% off? Complimentary VIP admission until 11 PM? Facebook is perfect for these sort of things, because it disseminates information rapidly to the people that most CARE about the products you have to offer to them.
That’s all I’ve got for today. I know not everyone will agree, and I anticipate a lively response with lots of debate, so make sure to tell me how wrong I am in the comments section. Have you tried Facebook for your business? How did it work out?
About the guest author: David Fishman is a blogger, search engine marketer and food enthusiast living and working in Atlanta, GA. He is an employee at Response Mine Interactive, a digital marketing agency specializing in new customer acquisition. In his spare time, he is likely to be cooking and updating his blog about how to make sushi.