Facebook for business
You will find most, if not all people who comment on social media, specifically FaceBook, are exceedingly gung ho on it.
"You’ve got to do it now! It’s where the young generation are and they’re your customers now – or will be.”
I cannot help wondering what will happen when this young generation matures and gains the responsibilities that many of us oldies have now: The partner and kids, mortgage and demanding job. Chores maintaining the home.
Will they spend so much time involved schmoozing through Facebook?
As a marketer, business owner and technology speaker I delved deeply into social media, starting in 2010. I needed to learn, use and educate.
Based on my experience and vast amount of research, I take a very down to earth, practical view on the usefulness of Facebook for the vast majority of small- and medium-sized businesses.
For the past two years it has been one of the most popular topics I’ve been asked to present on.
With each presentation, deep research was conducted looking through Facebook, Linkedin, YouTube and Twitter sites of their industry.
So I’m now ready to get hit on the head with a 101 comments when I say that I take a negative view on Facebook for business. I liken it to the famous Clint Eastwood movie, The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.
Social media mavens look at the customer communication aspect.
But what no one talks about is the brilliant technology of Facebook and how businesses can use it privately and in secret from the public.
Facebook has a group facility that can be set as private and secret, meaning it never shows in any search results. So it can be used in-house privately for videos, meetings and conversations, and all at no cost.
Many will argue that social media helps businesses create initial awareness. It gets people talking about the business. True, but…
Conversation does not equal sales
Let me tell you a story.
Last year I was running a social media workshop and I telephoned the owner of an utterly successful online Auckland-based web store to see if she could be a guest speaker.
They cater to the perfect Facebook target market – young mothers. With every fan my Facebook page would get, they would generate dozens.
They work like mad posting, commenting, engaging with their fans. They Tweet and video.
The owner couldn’t make it. However, she said, "you know Debbie, everyone who purchases from us – as they leave the shopping cart – we ask, ‘where did you hear about us’?
"Our average spend per customer is $90 per transaction. Want to know what the average spend is for those who found us via Facebook? $10."
That is significant. However, the problem isn’t only no sales or lower sales. For most businesses, there are no conversations going on. They’re simply yelling (posting) into an empty room.
If your market is mature business decision makers with money, they are not spending their time on social media sites – at least not for business. They don’t have the time.
They are there periodically to stay in touch, view photos and connect with their children and friends. Further studies show that people who like business pages rarely come back.
Akin to Google, what a business posts has to be popular to be shown in people's streams. Let’s not even mention that smartphones filter content, and people list and chose what they want to come through.
As I said, all that work yelling into an empty room.
Just when you think you’ve mastered it, Mr Zuckerberg decides to make changes and you have to start over.
Social media is like modern-day youth: no respect, and it talks back.
With smartphones giving instant internet access and video and photo-taking ability, no business is immune from the risks of having its weaknesses broadcast: tetchy waitress, line too long, product that didn't live up to expectations...
Conversations are being held on the web with or without your consent. Snotty waitress. Line too long. Product that didn’t live up to standards. Movie not as good as promos promised.
Negative comments can travel fast and can wreak havoc. If you’re not keeping on top and searching for your company name all the time, how do you manage this risk?
Call me silly, but I think it makes sense to put my time and effort where I see a real return on my investment. That is why I will put my main effort into maintaining a good database.
Based on my business and customers, I will continue to use Facebook, though I’ll view it simply as a 2012 administrative requirement.
Debbie Mayo-Smith is an international speaker, trainer and best-selling author who works with businesses that want more effective management and staff.