Having a business development strategy that incorporates Facebook, and other social networks, in your small business marketing plan makes sense in our online world.
However, having recognized the opportunity afforded by social media, be careful you don’t fall into the trap of thinking that marketing today is all about Facebook, or social media.
The Facebook Opportunity
Facebook when done well, and tailored to the audience you are hoping to reach can, for starters, help you:
- Build a growing base of fans/followers/connections for your business (think target audience, customers, potential customers).
- Increase positive brand name recognition and awareness for your business in your service area.
To do these things, Facebook will require an investment of both time and cash to promote content, to reach your intended audience. Even those who have already ‘liked’ your Page are almost impossible to reach today without an investment of cash.
But more to the point, while Facebook is the king of social media today, who knows what other social networks(s) could rise to eclipse it one day?
And, if you invest all of your time and energy in Facebook or any other social network or strategy that loses consumer appeal, you may have to rebuild on an entirely new platform down the road. Start over from scratch.
Owned Space, Rented Space Or Both?
Many small business owners have learned the hard way that they don’t OWN or ultimately control their Facebook Business Page. Facebook does! And, Facebook can change the rules any time they like, and they have done so to the detriment of small businesses on a number of occasions over the past several years.
This isn’t to paint Facebook as bad. Facebook is a business. One that is built on a user base made up of more than 1.4 billion people. Their success is dependent on the goodwill of those who use their service for free: consumers.
Businesses want to use Facebook because of the size of their audience and the potential it represents for them to reach consumers. Of course, we had become used to also having free access to the service, until a few years back when Facebook began to make it more difficult for us to reach those we were already connected with, unless we paid. The free service honeymoon has been over for business and Facebook for some time. It is only in the last year or so that this has begun to really sink in for most small businesses.
Now, Facebook is the big kahuna social network leading the charge of social networks who will, more and more, find ways to make business pay to reach those who have already liked or connected with them. But, paying for Facebook reach has also opened up new opportunities for small business to reach a much broader audience, those have never heard of us, but who may be in our service area.
When it comes to paying to reach your target audience on social media, we’re at the beginning of a relatively new era. Other networks will follow suit, once it is feasible for them to do so. Paying for exposure is the future of social media for business.
Don’t Neglect The Space You Own Online
While social networks are ‘rented space’, most small businesses, and non-profit organizations, would be foolish not to take advantage of Facebook and other appropriate social networks.
Just as foolish would be neglecting the online space that is owned by your business or non-profit: your website!
Your website, working together with social media, can do far more for your business or charitable organization than either of them can do on their own.
Making Your Owned Space Work For You!
When it comes to your online presence, think of your website as the hub of your business. It’s the online space where most consumers go first to find out more about your business, your products and your services.
To work for your business, your website needs to look good on desktops, tablets and mobile phones. It needs to be user-friendly and easy to navigate. As of April 21, 2015 this became even more important due to a Google algorithm update that factors in the mobile-friendliness of your website for mobile searchers.
Having current and helpful information, that is regularly updated, also makes your website a resource that visitors are more likely to return to and refer others to. This ‘fresh’ content also has an impact on your search engine rankings.
A Trusted Advertising Source: Your Website
In a 2013 Nielsen report on trust in advertising, 69% of consumers surveyed (globally) identified branded websites as the #2 (out of 19 choices) most trusted advertising source. The #1 most trusted advertising source, not surprisingly, was “recommendations from people I know.”
Roughly 88% of those living in Canada use the Internet, close to 60% are on Facebook. Many of those on Facebook or other social networks are periodic users who check in only weekly or monthly, and some even less frequently. This makes your website an important resource for all Internet users, and especially for those who may not find you on social networks.
Increase Your Marketing Effectiveness
When it comes to marketing your business in this digital age, both your website and social media have a role to play. But both should be part of an overall strategy that incorporates various means suited to your business and your target audience.
In the end, focusing all of your resources on one strategy rarely makes sense. Especially when you don’t own the platform your strategy is focused on!
(Updated/rewritten from 2012)