There’s a lot of discussion by marketers about Facebook right now, and the value of Facebook pages for business. One of the knocks against the social media giant is that you don’t own your Facebook page. Your page and all your fans belong to Facebook. That is 100% true. But does that mean you shouldn’t participate? Well, that’s a tricky question.
No, You Shouldn’t
You don’t own it: As stated earlier, your Facebook business page is not really yours, it’s Facebook’s. That also means you don’t control it. And if something goes wrong with your page, as it did with Joan Stewart’s, there’s often nothing you can do about it. Facebook has more than 500 million users and an estimated 4 million fan pages. Facebook has around 1700 employees. Customer service? You do the math.
Your status updates are here and gone: Facebook is a sort of stream-of-consciousness medium. Your status update posts are in chronological order and they continue to stack on top of each other. Theoretically all of your past updates are available for viewing But it would take a lot of work by a very dedicated fan. So you can’t really index any of your past status updates.
In addition, your status updates have minimal search engine effect. Both Google and Bing real time search results seem to favor Twitter. By contrast, you can index all of your content on a website and blog (which you own) and make a much greater impact on search engines. For example this two-year old blog post still attracts nearly 10% of my blog’s traffic: What is a Brand?
Simple participation is not enough: Facebook business pages requires engagement, not participation. That means they need your constant care and feeding. In addition, fans don’t follow your business page to just receive marketing messages. That means your content needs to be engaging and interesting.
Yes, You Should
Sheer Size: Approximately 57% of American adults have a Facebook account. 57%! That figure is pretty staggering in itself, but it also looks good for business. The average user “friends” 130 people and “likes” 80 pages. That means people want to keep up with businesses and brands.
Access to to highly targeted potential customers: There are 8580 college graduates between the ages of 21-50 within 25 miles of my hometown of Waco, Texas with Facebook accounts. 5360 of them are female. How do I know that? Because of Facebook’s excellent database of member information. I can target those people with Facebook ads if I want.
Facebook Places: You can use Facebook Places, Facebook’s location-based check-in service, without having a business page, but they go better together. You can use your page to encourage people to check in, and encourage people who check in to like your Facebook page. About 40% of Facebook members are also mobile users. If they like your page, they receive your status updates while they’re out shopping. Send out a status update that encourages them to check in for a deal (see below). Facebook Places and Facebook Pages go together.
Facebook Deals: You cannot offer Facebook Deals without first claiming your Facebook Places page. When you do, you can reward fans for checking in at your business. Pages, Places, and Deals are a powerful 1-2-3 Facebook punch.
What should you do?
So my personal advice is yes, you should have a Facebook business page. It provides free access to large numbers of potential customers who want to engage with brands. But also: no, you shouldn’t just do only Facebook. You don’t own it and you cannot establish a permanent marketing presence.
I think you should participate, but not only Facebook. You also need your own website to stake a permanent presence on the web. You really should have a blog to attract search engine traffic and establish your voice of authority. Then, mix in some advertising, both online and traditional.
Have you made your choice yet? Should you, or shouldn’t you, have a Facebook business page?