Facebook Is an Awesome Tool for Business, but Only When Wielded Awesomely
With 9 billion users, Facebook is far and away the most popular social network in the world. If Facebook were a country, it would contain the third largest population, behind China and India. And like China and India, Facebook has its own distinctive customs and norms, and you should understand them to be able to fully leverage the site’s potential as a marketing tool. When I see businesses get it wrong on Facebook, it’s often because they don’t bother to learn the local customs.
You’re a guest in Facebookistan. Behave yourself!
What makes Facebook so unique among all social networks? It’s the reality that people that use the site have strong connections with each other. Everyone is connected with their best friends, their immediate family as well as their close relatives. They share intimate aspects of their lives. Stuff like:
- Birthday celebrations
- High school graduation footage
- Baby photos
- Wedding announcements
What does this mean for small businesses (like yours) using Facebook as a marketing platform? It’s means you’ll need to be low-key and conscientious in your technique. You can’t use the old kinds of top-down, bullhorn-style marketing on Facebook, because people aren’t there to hear your hard sales pitch. They’re there to connect with friends and family. Respect that, and you’ll be respected and welcomed.
If you attempt to port the old model of marketing into Facebook, you will be disappointed. “With Facebook, business owners of any size can do effective, word-of-mouth marketing at scale for the very first time,” says Annie Ta, a Facebook spokesperson. “But Facebook is all about authenticity, if your company is not being authentic or engaging with users in a fashion that feels genuine, the community will see through it.”
Don’t be fooled: It’s meant to be hard
Don’t be fooled by social media “gurus” who make crazy promises about effortless Facebook success. Social media is all about creating relationships and influence—and this needs time to work. Many organizations are under the impression that if they set up a page on Facebook, that’s all they need to do. Marketing on Facebook is an incredibly effective way to reach local customers (we wouldn’t be talking about it if it weren’t). But here’s the rub: it’s also challenging (and rewarding) if you’re doing it correctly. The payback is definitely worth the investment in time and attention. Based upon a study from Social Media Examiner, nearly two-thirds of small businesses involved in social media point out that Facebook has improved their overall marketing effectiveness, and 80 percent report forming new partnerships after just two years of participation.