We get asked quite frequently about Facebook and whether a business should invest time and effort into having a Facebook page for business.
At the moment our stock answer is: “it depends on your business”.
The reason we say that is because it really depends on your business type and, more importantly, your target clients.
There’s no doubt that Facebook is important, we’re told that they have over 700 million members. But before you rush off and spend time and effort (and possibly money) to get a Facebook page for your business, consider the following points.
- Your business does not necessarily NEED a Facebook page.
Despite what all the social media experts will tell you, it’s not vital for you to have a Facebook page for your business. If your business marketing is doing its job and/or you have a working online marketing strategy then you’ll have to weigh up whether the additional time spent on Facebook will be worth it. But you’ll certainly not get left behind if you don’t have a facebook page for your business.
- Only a very small number of people use Facebook to shop.
Facebook is a very good way of connecting with friends and family but only a very small percentage of users buy through it. Advertising revenue on Facebook is certainly increasing (estimated $3.8 billion in 2011), but having such a large audience doesn’t necessarily equate to it being a channel worth trying to sell into. And, not too surprisingly, Facebook aren’t telling anyone about how many users actually respond to Facebook pages and buy.
For most Facebook users, the notion that Facebook can be a place to shop is still some way off.
- If you sell to businesses then your target market will shop elsewhere.
This is the biggest consideration of all. If you sell to businesses then Facebook is arguably the wrong marketing channel.
Here’s why: Facebook still isn’t seen as a place where people buy business services and products. Most businesses will have established supply lines and will use a search engine to do further research.
Facebook is a social media and not an established business to business avenue as yet.
- If you sell to consumers then you really do need to consider a Facebook page for business.
This is where Facebook can actually help a business. If you sell to consumers then you need to be where they gather and put out the appropriate messages. Because Facebook is a social media then it’s a natural fit if you sell directly to consumers. Advertising spend (aimed at consumers) on Facebook is expected to double over the coming 18 months.
- Facebook is a marketing channel and should provide a return on investment.
Many business fall down on marketing plans. With social media, just like any other marketing activity, you need to monitor results versus the time and money spent on it.
It’s far too easy to spend loads of time on Facebook, trying to convince yourself that it’s the way to go. However, if that time doesn’t turn into profit then it will have been a waste. So limit the time you spend on Facebook, keep tabs on what it brings back.
If you run a small business then this time spent on Facebook could be quite a costly investment, especially since the channel hasn’t been around long enough to show a proven track record of providing good returns for smaller enterprises. Remember: a small business needs results (usually quite quickly) and not just brand awareness.
As an addition to this we conducted our own research in August 2011 and managed to find only one company in our entire project that produced a profitable return on investment from her business Facebook page.
In the next article we’ll share this information with you and also some pointers on how you can get the most out of a Facebook page for business.
Feel free to share your own experiences in the comments.