The flood of traffic Facebook enrolls as the number 2 most trafficked site in the world makes them appealing for business for this reason alone. However, the lack of control over your content, non-business reasons people use Facebook, and their obtuse user interface are all cause for concern. Learn how to use and how not to use Facebook Pages so can create a "Pages" strategy that gives you the best market to medium match.
Everywhere you look companies have Facebook Fanpages: No wait; Facebook Pages. Companies are asking you to become Facebook Fans: No, I mean Facebook Likers (we need a new English word for this one!) For those of you who are blissfully unaware of the Facebook Pages Like button. And therein lies the problem: Facebook owners and controls the platform and severely restricts your ability to manage or remove your content. They give no guarantee whatsoever over how you will be able to use their platform and your content in the future. To put this in perspective, I recently retweeted an article from the Wall Street Journal that discussed the results of a survey: Facebook ranked just above the IRS in customer satisfaction. Ouch!
5 Things the Facebook Evangelists Forgot to Tell You
- While Facebook is number 2 in global traffic, only 1/6 of the Facebook users have any interest in using it to follow companies or brands. I discuss this in-depth in my Twitter for Business Article. Their change from the Fan to Like button is intended to broaden that appeal. We will have to wait and see how the change effects use but I believe it will broaden the Page appeal.
- Maintaining a Company Page is a significant time commitment for a small business. Not every business model will needlessly get a positive ROI unless they can use Facebook in a very specific way. I do suggest you at least create a Facebook Page account and reserve your business name to keep your options open .
- Do you have a strategy for how to use a Facebook page that is unique from your website or a blog strategy? If you are just reiterating tweets, blog posts, or videos that are available elsewhere, your Fanpage will add little value to others or your business. You really need a unique strategy to make a fanpage work. Paul Colligan uses his Facebook page to host his podcast. Since this is the only place you can subscribe to it outside of iTunes, this is great strategy and his Fanpage has regular updates and adds unique value. My company created a Fanpage for one of our clients that will feature their "stars of the month." Since they are a Performing Arts Company, this is an extremely compelling and engaging use of their Fanpage. And only people who have "Liked" their page can be considered for this monthly feature so this also creates a unique value proposition for joining their Page.
- Facebook controls all aspects of the content you post on their site. Sometimes you have heard how Blogger, Squidoo, and other blogging platforms can and do delete entire sites (without warning) for violating their terms of service wherever it is done intentionally or not. If your business relationships large or sole on these blogging platforms or Facebook Pages you are taking a risk. However, just hosting a podcast provides little risk since your RSS feed can be self-hosted on an Amazon S3, uploaded to iTunes, and if anything happened to your Facebook Page, subscribers to the Podcast would still receive their content and the podcast subscription page Could easily be moved to a different website.
- Do not feel you have to use Facebook Pages if it does not fit your business model. I do however highly recommend Twitter since it is both easy to learn, use, understand, and 51% of users follow companies and brands versus 16% for all other social networking sites. Twitter also complements a blog perfectly. It can easily be set up to automatically tweet (micro-blog) a 140 character headline and summary of your new post to your Twitter followers.
The Fad-Myth and Reality
When octogenarian Betty White says, "I am on the Facebook," in her latest commercial, it gives you perspective into the depth of the Facebook craze. Everyone, including businesses, are jumping into Facebook and committing significant resources to Pages. But few have any idea how it will benefit their business. Facebook Pages can work amazingly well for some companies. Pepsi demonstrated the power of Facebook Pages with their wildly successful "Refresh Project". However they were successful because they were very focused on a niche project that allowed their Fans (now Likers) to vote on exactly what Pepsi would do with their Refresh Project; A compiling social campaign that gives back to communities.
What Facebook Fanpages Are Not
I am a believer in social media as a marketing and social networking but I have recently read several articles stating that Facebook Pages will replace blogs as the center of the new media business universe. This statement demonstrates a lack of business acumen and demonstrates how fads can overwhelm reason. While Facebook personal pages are clearly the place of choice to connect with your personal friends, I can tell you with absolute certy that Facebook business pages will never be the center of the new media universe. As long as Facebook has absolute control over how businesses use their own content, Facebook will never be the center of their online strategy. Not to pile on but their obtuse user interface and indentive attitude toward their users make them less than appealing for a central business strategy.
How to Use Facebook Business Pages Successfully
If you really want to leverage Facebook for what it is best at, you will need to use it to focus on one important social aspect of your business and build a strategy around it. It must be fun and emotionally engaging. Whether it is a podcast or a customer spotlight, it needs to be social and allow your customers and "Likers" to socially engage and participate. Remember how people use the Facebook platform: They go to Facebook to socialize with their friends. If you develop a Facebook strategy that meets this need, you will succeed on Facebook and build a strong fan base of loyal "Likers".
What is your experience with Facebook Pages? Do you like their user experience, are they intuitive to build and use, and what do you like or not like about Pages?