As the online world continues to develop, businesses must adapt to frequent changes. Facebook has been an important part of marketing for many businesses, but how much time should a business be investing in Facebook now?
The past few years of changes in the social media market have led analysts to say that Facebook may not be a worthwhile advertising tool anymore, and that (gasp!) many people are growing disinterested with this form of socializing, as many only use Facebook to whine about what’s wrong in their lives. But this doesn’t mean you should give up on building a group of Facebook fans or a community around which you can create awareness. After all, Facebook did reach the 1 billion users mark on Sept. 14 (although Mark Zuckerberg didn’t make the public announcement until a couple weeks later). And still other reports show that Facebook boasts 77% of B2C companies acquiring new customers successfully through this platform. The key is to find balance in the amount of time you spend on Facebook, based on what you know about your target market.
Does Facebook still work for marketing businesses?
Let’s say you have a good number of fans on your Facebook page. Did you know that only about 16% of them actually see your posts? Analysts believe it is because too many businesses post spammy or uninteresting updates, which may cause fans to simply tune a brand out. Before looking at ways to improve the visibility of your posts, let’s look at what people use Facebook for.
How users are putting Facebook to work
Facebook is not a marketplace (yet). Instead, it is a controlled way for people to connect with existing friends. Most users completely ignore the ads, and use Facebook to interact with people they already know, not to look for new contacts. The point is that Facebook is a relational tool, not so much an advertising platform. So you should plan on spending time building connections and rapport, not just blasting posts with your latest product offerings.
Generally, news breaks first on Twitter because it is accessible and simple. Instead of only connecting with established friends, users can tweet with famous people, organizations and businesses that they would otherwise be unable to have a personal connection with. Facebook lacks the speed and accessibility that businesses need to reach customers if the goal is fast exposure.
The investment decision
To decide how much time, if any, to invest in Facebook, study your target customer. Do they use Facebook? How often? Do they use another social network more often? Has your business seen any benefits from being on Facebook? Look at your marketing strategy to see if your time and resources could be spent more effectively somewhere else.
The key lies in determining whether you should use Facebook as a relationship builder or just have a simple presence where people can find you if they search for you. There really is very little in between — either you build aggressively or let it sit. If you try to build a Facebook community halfway, it will be a huge waste of time.
If you do decide that your business can benefit from Facebook, the following are some keys to making it your efforts more efficient:
- Post updates that are completely unexpected or different — take people by surprise with humor or another specific brand voice that will stick with and interest people.
- Not all posts need to be related to your business. Facebook is about building relationships, remember? Figure out what information your customers love to see or read about and share it!
- Share free resources, freely, such as Detroit Institute museum did. If customers see you as a generous business, they will develop positive feelings toward you.
- Make certain discounts, coupons, free resources only available on Facebook to encourage users to keep an eye on you.
- Pictures, videos and articles are highly popular on Facebook. This is one “leg up” that Facebook has over Twitter. Make sure every update includes an image or video, if possible.
- Do not post every day. Update consistently but not as frequently as you would on Twitter. As a small business, you may only need to post once or twice a week.
- Post when people are on Facebook. According to the Huffington Post, the best times to post are weekends by far, followed by evenings and early mornings.
- Use the Promote button for your most important posts to push them to the top of the news feed. This does cost money, with the exact rate depending on your geographic location and how many users you wish to reach, but can be worth it for advertising posts.
If your target audience is engaged on Facebook and your particular business is about building relationships before and after the sale, then Facebook could very well be one of the best investments of time you could make. But if you’re looking for quick non-relational advertising opportunities, you’ll likely find other sites and social media platforms offer more effective means of connecting with customers.
Tara Hornor has a degree in English and has found her niche writing about marketing, advertising, branding, Web and graphic design, and desktop publishing. She writes for PrintPlace.com, an online printing company that offers brochures, business cards, flyer printing, posters, postcards, custom booklet printing and more printed marketing media. In addition to her writing career, Tara also enjoys spending time with her husband and two children. Connect with @TaraHornor on Twitter.