Social Media, for those who aren't keeping up, consists of any form of media based in technology that allows you to maintain contact with people at anytime you feel like reaching out and touching someone. The old adage from the phone company has never been more true. Social Media: Twitter, Tumblr, Myspace, Youtube, Facebook and now Google+ all allow their users to drop in at anytime and pick up on a conversation taking place in a group, on a wall, through a Tweet and now in a circle (Google+) In marketing circles having a Facebook page is now a required form of guerilla marketing that will allow you to reach more people simply based on the sheer numbers on these various forms of social media. I've been thinking lately though, is this really a good thing for small biz? I mean, you can post to Facebook and get an immediate bump in web traffic. You can even advertise for free, but with the fact that so many people are fighting to be seen in Social Media there is a problem taking place that has to be rectified by the various outlets. While Social Media was the place to go to build a following many small biz people are finding themselves utilizing Facebook as a primary source of information for their fans, followers, and potential clients.
Now this is not a problem, but it is. See the time a person invests into getting traffic to their Facebook page pays off for a company like the NBA, or ESPN, or AmEx. Why? These brands have customer loyalty, a following and the ability to drive people to their sites through extensive marketing in traditional media forms. No matter what the NBA posts on Facebook, they will have visitors who go directly to their websites. Their foundation was not established through the various forms of social media. Let's focus on Facebook. Facebook holds a person's attention and the short blasts of information, the ability to hold discourse and to share pictures in a central location for the common person and the business person is too attractive. It is so attractive that let's say Small Biz guy A posts something about his company, chances are that the people they expect to visit their webpage will only look at it on Facebook. Facebook uses the App Networked Blogs and in all actuality the person remains on Facebook where the blog/website is presented in a frame.
Why is this important? Small biz has to create traffic that will revisit THEIR site and create new followers. One primary stream of revenue for many small biz people/bloggers/website owners is ad revenue. If you are posting and maintaining your conversations on Facebook, then the conversation never moves to your webpage. Facebook generations millions and millions from ad revenue on their site while your poor site only gets cents in impressions instead of dollars which can really help. In other words, Facebook is like a really great drug that makes you feel important, but when the effects wear off, you feel... well, out of it. More important, you have less traffic and you are failing to really build the following you are looking to build.
Instead of being vague I'll come straight and say what I mean: Facebook is really good for connecting with friends and it can be a nice introduction for your company, but in the end with the amount of business people on Facebook now, the casual user is beginning to hide multiple posts, or even worse they are marking posts from legitimate business people as spam. In other words that great amount of free advertisement you thought would work for you through Facebook is not really working for you as much as you would have hoped. Posting on Facebook does give you an alternative, but the CTR (click through rate) is not that great for small biz.
Some people like numbers so here are the numbers for using a Facebook Ad. Consider that this is paying for advertisement on Facebook as well as using Facebook as a personal page/business page. This is for one week of advertising:
123,117 Impressions (People really don't pay attention to those adds on the side)
195 Clicks (I marketing to a target market so of all of these impressions, only 195 clicked)
91Connections (Even fewer clicked and liked my page)
0.158% CTR (This is basically telling you less than 2/10ths of the people who saw my ad visited)
$61.89 Spent (Not a lot of money, but it is a fill up in the mini van, shrugs shoulders)
$0.50 CPM (basically telling you how much it costs per 1000 visitors)
$0.32 CPC (basically telling you how much it costs per click)
What does all of this mean? This experiment to test Facebook's ability to convert visitors into potential clients was not very successful and actually following this experiment, someone in this group labeled my blog posts as spam and now I am not able to post my webpage content to either my fan page or personal page. Real quick, I built a part of my small business through ebay recently and was making very good money. In an instant however, ebay cancelled my account and my paypal (They are connected) I've been writing about this on my sneaker store blog. CLICK HERE to read about this. The reason I mention this is because I have made two major errors in buying into the belief that Social Media can be a strong springboard to business success when I should actually state that Social media should be a very small part of a small businesses marketing strategy. Another thing to consider, what if you have been building your site through Facebook and people have always associated you with Facebook? They never actually type your web address into the URL bar, they never bookmark your site, the only have used links to visit your site. If your site is marked as spam you're done. People are always looking for more stimulation (insert corny sex joke here). When they are on Facebook if you don't appear before their eyes, they will move on and look at the next thing.
This takes me back to the original question, is Facebook good for small biz? I am now thinking that it is a nice tool when used in moderation and if you don't have a message board for your website. However, think about this: When you are a person looking to expand your business and you need as many revenue streams as possible, does it make sense to begin a great conversation on Facebook where they are making millions from the multiple clicks and impressions on Facebook and you are feeding and fulfilling their content quota? I know the problem is, how do you get people to visit your site? Unfortunately any person who says they have this answer is a lying. The only thing that will drive people to your site is content. It may be better to spend your time creating something worthwhile to visit, than it is to post another link to Facebook. In the long run, someone may stumble across your little biz and they might tell a friend. Then one day, you may find yourself getting traffic to your site and your small business the old fashion way, the best way, word of mouth. Well word of mouth and of course learning as much as you can about SEO.