Many small businesses struggle with the question: “Is Facebook really worth it?”
They struggle before they create their Facebook Page and shortly after they create one, once the reality of the challenges of reaching potential customers on Facebook sinks in!
Before they take the plunge they struggle with …
- whether they even want to be on or ‘do’ Facebook
- whether they have the time, budget and know-how to run a Facebook Page
- whether their customers are even on Facebook
After they take the plunge they struggle with:
- getting their Page fully set up
- building their base of fans (people who will like their Page)
- finding the time to be active on Facebook
- finding and knowing what to share and how often to share it
- how to get what they share into the Facebook news feed, so it has a chance of being seen by their target audience
- how to boost content and advertise on Facebook
For many small businesses getting started and continuing on with Facebook is an overwhelming, frustrating and stressful process!
With assorted media sources, social media gurus, marketing advisors, and such telling business owners “you need to be on Facebook” the decision to create a Page seems obvious. Add to this the worldwide Facebook statistics that tell us 1.7+ billion people are active on Facebook monthly and 1.13 billion are active daily, and the lure of Facebook becomes compelling. But is Facebook worth it for your small business?
The Early Days of Facebook
In the early days of Facebook, before about 2011, businesses would create their Facebook Page and start spending money to build their base of fans. At that time, it was largely about building the number of people who liked your Page (fans). Where the fans came from seemed irrelevant, as long as Page numbers were growing.
Getting the content Page’s shared into the Facebook news feed of those who liked their Page wasn’t an issue then.
Today’s Facebook Reality
Since 2012, or thereabouts, the ability for Pages to get their content seen in the Facebook news feed, without paying, has been rapidly declining. Today, the average Page is LUCKY if 6% of the people who have liked their Page (their fans) actually see what they share in their news feed. For some Pages, and likely many, this number is as low as 1%, says social media guru Mari Smith.
Today if a business is serious about getting their content into the Facebook news feed of their fans and others, they need to be prepared to invest cold hard cash! Facebook’s paid advertising options, in particular, the option to boost content you share on your Page, makes this possible. If you plan to have an active business presence on Facebook today, plan to pay to ensure your audience (fans) and others get to see what you share on your Page.
In today’s Facebook reality, the only way to ensure what you share on your Page reaches your fans and others, is to pay. (See Facebook advertising policies here.)
Facebook For Small Business: Is It Worth It?
So, if you have to pay to reach your audience on Facebook, is it worth it for your small business?
It can be …
- If you understand social media generally and Facebook specifically
- If your target audience (customers, gatekeepers, influencers for your specific business) is on Facebook
- If you have a professional looking, branded and complete business profile set up on Facebook
- If you share content that your target audience finds interesting, helpful, valuable on your Page
- If you pay to ensure that at least some of what you share makes it into the news feed of your fans and others on Facebook
When people on Facebook become familiar with your business name, especially when consumers find what you share interesting, helpful, valuable and/or inspirational, it can result in potential customers thinking positively about your business. Thus, it can help build positive brand name recognition that helps fuel potential sales opportunities down the road.
Don’t underestimate the help Facebook can give you in building a business name that is known and respected in your local area. While not a quick fix, it can make a difference for your business and its long-term success.
Facebook Is Only One Arrow In The Marketing Quiver
It’s important to remember that social media in general and Facebook, in particular, are one arrow in the marketing quiver.
When you understand how Facebook works and get over the hurdle of having to pay to reach your fans and others on Facebook, you’ll discover its greatest value lies in being part of an overall integrated marketing strategy.
The power of Facebook, just like any other marketing tool, lies in the other elements that work along side it:
- A branded website
- Your overall online presence (including other social networks)
- Traditional media
- Excellent customer service
- Products and services that deliver on your promises
All of these working together form a powerful marketing strategy that can help build brand name recognition, customer loyalty, leads, and sales.
Should Facebook Be A Marketing Tool For Your Business?
Of course, Facebook isn’t for every small business. Not every business will find the audience they are hoping to reach on Facebook. But most small businesses will find at least some of their target audience on Facebook. It’s then a matter of deciding if it is a platform your business should take advantage of.
For those businesses whose target market is obviously on Facebook, sharing content your target audience will find interesting, helpful, valuable and inspirational can positively influence how they feel about your business. It can help them feel like they ‘know’ you and strengthen how they feel about your business.
Facebook is a platform that can help build brand name recognition, loyalty, and reach for your business, when integrated with other marketing efforts. But it isn’t free and with without an investment of cash to reach your target audience, the value of Facebook is questionable.
[This article has been substantially rewritten from the original published in 2013]