Received wisdom dictates that your marketing strategy has to include social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter. It’s nice to have a presence but is it really necessary? A recent ForeSee survey has found that social media only drives about 3% of traffic to your site and they’re not particularly good quality anyway, vaguely interested but not very likely to buy anything. Emailers and traditional advertising still have a great deal more pull than Facebook or Twitter.
Another thing that people seem to neglect when talking up the value of Facebook is the fact that your friends and fans already have to know you before they can add you to their friends, loyal customers are important but your audience isn’t going to explode if you’re only communicating with people who already buy your product.
You might spend a great deal of time engaging with your customers via your social media platform but if you’ve only got a handful of friends the cost benefits are extremely uneven. If your social media strategy is going to work it takes dedication and constant content creation, you need to make the page look like there’s something going on all the time and if you’re a small company that’s a lot of man hours and creativity to put into a marketing tool that produces results as small as 3%.
There are a number of other reasons why Facebook might not be for you too.
Dr Kathy Charles of Napier university in Edinburgh conducted a survey in which she found that a “significant minority” of Facebook users suffered from anxiety and stress when it came to their online friends, they felt that they had to be interesting and entertaining all of the time and worried about denying friend requests and un-frieneding people they were no longer interested in. Dr Charles compared the anxiety of being away from Facebook to a gambler who couldn’t leave a gaming table because they need to know what will happen next. Deleting your Facebook account is known as ‘Facebook suicide,’ if you try to do it you get messages from Facebook whether you really wanted to do it as if there was something abnormal about no longer wanting a profile and even when your account has been deleted every tagged photo and comment you left persists on the internet presumably for perpetuity.
As I mentioned above, people need to already know you before they can find you, Facebook isn’t a search engine, that’s not to say it won’t be in the future but as it stands if some-one hasn’t heard of you they’re unlikely to do so via your Facebook page. If you’re trying to generate business dedicating time and effort on Facebook is time and effort that could be better spent working on press releases, SEO and an emailing campaign (just remember: no spamming).
If you have a Facebook page it does enable you to enter into a dialogue with your customers and friends, you can put up photos of your new ranges and invite customer comments, even get them to contribute their own ideas, that could save you a lot of time and money in R&D but you’re also open to trolling either from disgruntled former clients or people who simply think it’s amusing to spend their time writing insulting and unproductive comments on your wall.
If you have the manpower to devote to social media then by all means go for it, there’s no harm in generating the kind of PR that’s available through Facebook, you can publicly deal with complaints and suggestions, all of which is good PR but if you don’t have some-one to update the site every day I really wouldn’t worry about it, that 3% is pretty measly and your effort would be far more valuable elsewhere.