Who is turning to Facebook as a key online promotion tool? Large promoters such as Carling have learnt that Facebook is where young people are, so where better to court them than on their home turf. Not only Carling itself but The Carling Cup now has a its own Facebook page. Why? Is it a friend of yours? No, it’s pretending to be your mate to sell beer. Similarly, 12.000 plus people now “like” the Mahon shopping centre. Really? Presumably a few shopaholics but mostly those looking for news of sales and special offers, and now cheerfully receiving promotional info from their new imaginary friend.
A great marketing opportunity
If the big boys are doing it, it must be working for them. No surprise then that small businesses, community organisations and campaigners are following suit. If you promote your wares or cause to Facebook users, you could potentially reach the now over 835,525,280 signed up with Facebook. And not just the young. Facebook users are represented across all age groups from teenage right up to 55 plus.
A great marketing tool? Yes. So why the note of caution? Because many organisations and groups are using Facebook not as an addition to a website presence on the web, but instead of a website. Why they do that is threefold.
Three good reasons to use Facebook
1. It’s free. Facebook costs nothing and so any group or business can use it. Facebook for business tells you how. Websites can be expensive – for a domain name, to build and to host. Facebook does and as they say, always will, cost nothing.
2. It’s easy. Even if you find creating an online presence daunting, even the average teenager can now help you to set up your business or community Facebook page. Websites are harder to set up and not many people know how to help you.
3. You get instant feedback. The “likes” you get are a buzz, especially for charity and community groups who can feel the love of supporters and friends who will cheerfully like pretty well everything they do. And most of your pals will be willing to “like” you – it costs them nothing – not even the time to actually read your page.
Five reasons not to limit yourself to Facebook
So what limitations does Facebook have?
1. It only works for people who are signed up Facebook users. Yes, that’s potentially 835,525,280 people worldwide, which is a lot, but there are 7,017,846,922 internet users, so your audience is only 12% of all internet users. If you only use Facebook, you are missing 88% of your potential supporters or customers. Admittedly that percentage is much higher in social media savvy Europe and the USA where on average two thirds of people are on line, but only half of those are also signed up to (but not necessarily using) Facebook.
2. Facebook pages are harder to find. Have you tried searching for a Facebook page on Google when you don’t know the exact name? Exactly – you can’t seem to find it. That’s because all that search engine optimisation stuff you need to do for a website is necessary for Facebook too, it doesn’t happen automatically. Neither will your page or a specific post turn up in relevant searches the way a well signposted website will. So although your Facebook page may do well when you send it to your supporters or pals, you may still be invisible to virtually everyone else. Facebook reaches the people who already know you and some of the people who know them, but not those who don’t.
3. The Facebook format is inflexible. Facebook only features your latest posts and very few people will trouble to scroll down further than the top of your page. You have no way of signposting other information to them easily because the Facebook format won’t let you. That means that essential information about you either needs to be repeated, in which case you will bore your regular readers, or missed out, in which case you appear only to be about the latest thing you posted. And that may be out of date, making you appear asleep at the wheel.
4. Your page features other people’s comments and posts. Regular Facebook accounts feature not just your comments but other peoples’ too. Great, but for new readers it can take the debate away from your latest message and highlight what any passing “friend” happens to be talking about that day. Chances are it’s not what you want people to read about.
5. It takes a lot of work to keep it going. If you want people to like your page, and to bother to come back for more, you need to follow the Facebook advice to business users. They say:
Be timely by posting about current events, holidays or news
Make sure your posts are relevant to your audience and business
Be succinct, friendly and conversational
Share photos and videos because they tend to be more engaging
Ask questions or seek input
Give access to exclusive information and specials
So why not get your website to do it better?