I create and manage a lot of websites and marketing campaigns for small and medium size business across a multitude of industries.
One of the “standard” items that is expected to be setup and published is a Facebook Page.
Once you’ve setup your Facebook Page, the idea is to get as many people as possible to “Like” your page, so that when you publish any kind of announcement for your business, it will appear in their feed and people will be aware of what your business is up to. It sounds brilliant.
This is the fundamental idea about Facebook that almost everybody understands and believes. Its called “Organic Reach” and it sounds wonderful. Ideally this will let you build loyalty to your brand or company and allow you to create opportunities that will generate sales.
How do you get likes? This is easy. Facebook provides you with the tools to promote your Facebook page on your site using “cut and paste” plugins as well as third party plugins and a whole slew of tools that lets you integrate Facebook into your online efforts. Its appealing because it costs nothing and you might as well do it because the effort on your part is also quite minimal.
You can also gain Facebook likes by purchasing an Ad on Facebook that will promote your Facebook page and convince people to “Like” your page. Please note that at this point you will now be spending money to drive traffic to your Facebook page instead of driving traffic to your website.
This is all ok. When you spend money on these efforts, it feels like your spending on important marketing items that will benefit you in the long run. It feels like your building your subscriber list and user database that you can use for your marketing. This feels justified.
So now you have a Facebook page with a few hundred or maybe even a few thousand likes. You feel pretty good. You can show off to your friends how popular your page is, and now the sun is shining and you have that feeling that success is just around the corner.
You start posting your really cool ads that you paid your graphics guy or agency to create and for some reason those ads or announcements NOT being seen or liked by large number of people who liked your page. In fact your page, which has, lets say 500 likes, has a typical post “view count” of about 50 to 100 people.
Yes, you read that correctly, only about 1% to 5% of the people that have ALREADY “liked” your page saw your cool ad or post. That’s like building a contact database with 500 names and sending out an email to only 50 people on that list.
Of course you can increase that number by clicking the “Promote” button and spending anywhere from $5 to $200 and you can reach a lot more. This is the same as paying a $6 to $10 CPM (Cost per thousand impression) on regular Ad inventory on the open internet. Keep in mind on the open internet you will reach people who have not yet heard of your company and you can truly grow your brand, unlike the Facebook option which is allowing you to only reach those people who ALREADY “like” your page and have already heard of you and your company.
To recap what is happening when you build your Facebook page.
Instead of building a database of users that you can contact at will, you are paying Facebook to build a list of people for you to then pay Facebook again to advertise to the list that you already paid to build.
So you’re paying for likes and your paying for post visibility.
This very common misunderstanding of how the Facebook pages work or I should say don’t work in promoting small businesses is very disappointing to so many marketers once they come to this realization.
Is Facebook evil and greedy? Well, the answer is No. It all comes down to the nature of the beast. The beast I’m referring to is your feed on Facebook. There are so many posts by so many people who it’s quite impossible for any single person to view them all. In order to address this issue, Facebook has built-in algorithms that determines which posts are shown to whom and what becomes popular or not.
When you create a Facebook post, it will show to a few people. Depending on the time of day, and the people it has shown it to as well as how much time they spent with your post on their screen and a few other factors, this will decide whether your post will be seen by more people on your list or not. To put it in simple terms, is what your posting interesting or is it boring.
A good marketer can craft a good marketing campaign that will generate high interest and will grow organically. They will know the correct time of day to post for the audience they are after and will monitor the success or failure of each post. This kind of marketing done correctly can make a post truly go “viral” (organically grow). Otherwise your just filling the feed with noise that doesn’t go anywhere or benefit anyone.
I’ve seen posts that have gone viral and have seen over 2 million views. This is great, however, these posts only serve to push the brand. We saw only a minor bump in new likes and no bump in commerce. It is a lot of effort for little to no payoff. You must measure the amount of time energy and imagination you are going to use to create good marketing content against traditional online marketing methods to see where you should allocate your funds to cover the cost of customer acquisition in the most efficient and effective way.
The Facebook social network business model may work for celebrities or huge brands that have a large organic following and whose posts are naturally and organically amplified to increase visibility, but for small businesses this is a waste of time, money, and energy that can be better invested on their websites and mailing lists and traditional online advertising options.
Bottom line. Run the numbers and check your returns. I’m sure you’ll see that your F page may not be paying off, and may in fact just be sucking away time you could better be using in building a real user/fan database and in legitimate proven marketing efforts.