This may not be a popular position, or even a right one, but our experience with our own business, and the businesses we do social media marketing for, Facebook for business is completely overrated. Marketers are flocking toward Facebook in droves, partaking in an array of circus acts to garnish “Fans” and “Likes”, mostly with lackluster results at best, yet the Facebook madness drones on.

Facebook Is the New Web site

Small Business Labs reported on some interesting data from the Network Solutions State of Small Business report on the impact of social media on traditional websites;

When asked how social media usage is impacting their spending plans on their traditional websites, 62% of small businesses said that social media didn’t change their spending plans for the coming year.  27% said they are planning on increasing their spend due to social media.

But 9% plan on eliminating (4%) or spending less (5%) on their traditional website due to social media.  While 9% sounds low, last June only 2% reported plans to spend less or eliminate their traditional website due to social media.

In the forecasting world, we call a 6 month shift of this magnitude a signal.

Last year we wondered if social media in general and Facebook in particular could replace traditional websites.  The general consensus of the feedback we got was a solid no.

But despite the feedback, many small businesses are using Facebook for their firm’s primary website. We’re also seeing a growing number of new small businesses choosing Facebook over a traditional website for their web presence.

Facebook Isn’t Results Oriented Marketing

Image representing Facebook as depicted in Cru...

Image via CrunchBase

As a business owner I favor results over hype, which means; Are we selling more stuff based on our marketing effort? If we aren’t selling more stuff, we typically make changes and tweaks until we see sustainable improvement. As is the case with most small business, our marketing budget is constrained, so we need to employ things that work. Things that work in business are much more simple to determine than folks want to admit. Return on investment does not need to be complicated. So, if you were advertising in a certain magazine, with no measurable leads or sales, wouldn’t you change something up, like deploy your marketing resources elsewhere? Of course you would, except when it comes to Facebook, most of us continue to drudge on, trying new things to engage prospects.

Why Do We Keep Doing It

Why do we, and a zillion other businesses continue to deploy marketing dollars toward Facebook, all in the name of growing a fan base? At what point do we stop because we haven’t gotten any sales from the effort put forth. That is not to say we don’t strike up a conversation or two on our Facebook wall from time to time, and we are not downplaying the value of conversation and engagement, however, does that value outweigh the cost? We successfully utilize a multitude of tools and platforms in our digital arsenal to drive leads, and Facebook is by far and away the lowest leveraged of anything we do.

Clients Love Affair With Facebook

We can tell our client that their blog is the cornerstone of their social media strategy, but they aren’t hearing that. Clients are Facebook brainwashed and demand to be part of the Facebook dance party, therefore agencies are forced to try things that aren’t working. The sad thing about performing a service that doesn’t work is that folks start making stuff up, which will likely increase as time wears on.

Is your Facebook strategy working, and if by what measure? More fans or more engagement or more likes or more sales? I doubt most folks are hitting any of the those regularly, and hardly anyone is selling more stuff from their Facebook participation. So why are you doing it, because your paying client is demanding it?

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About Eric Brown

Eric Brown

Eric Brown's background is rooted in the rental and real estate industries. He founded metro Detroit’s Urbane Apartments in 2003, after serving as senior vice president for a major Midwest apartment developer. He established a proven track record of effectively repositioning existing rental properties in a way that added value for investors while enhancing the resident experience. He also established The Urbane Way, a social media marketing and PR laboratory, where innovative marketing ideas are tested.

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Comments & Reactions

Comments Policy

Comments on Social Media Explorer are open to anyone. However, I will remove any comment that is disrespectful and not in the spirit of intelligent discourse. You are welcome to leave links to content relevant to the conversation, but I reserve the right to remove it if I don't see the relevancy. Be nice, have fun. Fair?

  • Zie L.

    After few business postings on the FB, I have found that promoting a business on FaceBook is pretty much a hit and miss. You have to go where the fishes that like your bait and the bait is most likely to be very time engaging to make and there is no guarantee it is gonna work. Some products are so niched that most people don’t give a damn about. FB is too dispersed and people have attention span shorter then a millisecond. How to you capture a following when you and your product are not already mega hot and boiling with eyeballs beforehand? I wish there is a FaceBook for business only and not mixing in with personal and individual pages. It will not work mixing personal with business period. Try to convince your friends on FB to buy a homemade cookies from you, see how most people will just ignore or give a comment or two, and nothing more. Social media chatters and communicates, that’s pretty much it. I don’t go to Facebook to shop, do you?

  • Zie L.

    After few business postings on the FB, I have found that promoting a business on FaceBook is pretty much a hit and miss. You have to go where the fishes that like your bait and the bait is most likely to be very time engaging to make and there is no guarantee it is gonna work. Some products are so niched that most people don’t give a damn about. FB is too dispersed and people have attention span shorter then a millisecond. How to you capture a following when you and your product are not already mega hot and boiling with eyeballs beforehand? I wish there is a FaceBook for business only and not mixing in with personal and individual pages. It will not work mixing personal with business period. Try to convince your friends on FB to buy a homemade cookies from you, see how most people will just ignore or give a comment or two, and nothing more. Social media chatters and communicates, that’s pretty much it. I don’t go to Facebook to shop, do you?

  • http://twitter.com/LazylSherpa Lazy Sherpa

    Facebook is most certainly overrated by some businesses, but no less undervalued by others. Whenever there’s too great a focus or emphasis on one arm of social media, there’s an urge to start pressing and you run into issues. A company’s offline presence and it’s ability to successfully bridge and integrate all aspects of a marketing program is an important factor in the success of any Facebook campaign.

    http://www.twitter.com/LazylSherpa

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  • http://www.online-business-virtual-assistant.com/ Virtual office assistant

    Its good investing in Social media. Social Media platform is ideal for different uses and should therefore have a customized strategy. Due to the rapid rise in popularity and relevancy many online marketing companies now offer Social Media Marketing and strategy development services which are paramount to the success of Social Media as a viable marketing channel.

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  • Anonymous

    Eric, this is exactly what I have been blogging about and preaching for quite sometime. Marketer’s need to decide up front what they want out of Facebook. Do you need to have a Facebook presence? Is engagement more important than revenues? What do you want to measure? What are your engagement goals, revenue goals? How do you measure ROI? How are you going to manage your Facebook fan page–inside or outside? A controversial WebTrends study says that Facebook advertising is abysmal. Many CMO’s are not concerned about measuring ROIs as much as they are learning and listening to their fans. Facebook is often called The World’s Largest Focus Group. Facebook is presently testing real-time geo-targeted ads, and this development may change things, but too early to tell.

  • http://socialmediamanagerinc.com David Mon

    Eric, you make some good points but I think your missing something here. Most social media is about building relationships. I think if used correctly the main thing you get from facebook is brand interaction/recognition not direct sales. Does TV or Radio sell anything?? I think not its a brand building tool just like Facebook. The main difference is FB is free to use and has much greater interactivity as well as it allows for your brand champions to promote your business for you.

    Dave

  • http://www.ruthstevens.com RuthPStevens

    Eric, I appreciate your taking this contrarian view, as I did a whiile back: http://directmag.com/online/facebook-business-marketing-0602/index.html My big complaint about FB is that we can’t rely on it to fill our sales quotas. On the other hand, I am hearing that some B2B marketers are finding that companies having a FB page is an indicator of a forward-thinking, early-adopter company that might be in the market for cutting edge technology. That’s an interesting idea for lead scoring, but it’s not going to be widely applicable.

  • http://twitter.com/inbox_agency Inbox Agency

    Attracting Likers fka Fans isn’t the end, it’s the means to building a critical mass of people who bond with your brand and can help you spread the word to their friends. But it won’t work if you think of it as just another channel to force your message on them. Try using Pages as a polling tool to ask Fans what features they want to see, what they like best about the business. Give away a freebie to the best testimonial on the wall. Once you have a few hundred fans, Facebook’s power to target ads is unmatched. (Remember, facebook is for building Awareness and Interest, just the top half of the A-I-D-A sales funnel)

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  • http://www.nashvilletechfeed.com/ David Beronja

    One thing to keep in mind is every move Facebook makes the first benefactor is Facebook. Their goal is to drive as much traffic to their site and keep it there. If you are sending more people to Facebook than what is returning you’re focusing on the wrong site…and it’s not yours.

    If anything remind clients how the MySpace thing went. Hundreds of hours and possibly thousands of dollars and what do they have to show for it? An abandoned profile. The current big thing can always become the next loser.

  • http://readysetgoit.com James Williams

    With many of my clients, I sterr them away from facebook marketing as a product and more as an added bonus to a normal social hub like a blog. When ever I create a new website or blog for someone , I create it with automatic facebook and twitter updating.

    I show people that using these tools is beneficial, but it is not where your main effort should be focused. No one can doubt the power and reach of facebook, so as a marketing porfessional, it would be irresponsible to not use it.

    I stress continuously updating clients blog/site, a strong focus on link building and creating marketing campaigns that focus on ROI and targeted traffic.

  • eSuiteOne

    Spot on!!!!!

  • http://profiles.google.com/manikandanbs Subramanian Manikandan Balasub

    You are bang on the target. However, we thought through and figured out the simple reason behind it i.e Facebook was meant to connect people while it is slowly maturing to fit the business needs. However, b2b is totally a different ball game. Hence, we came up with Wapr.com where companies can connect and collaborate and typical issues of b2b space like long sales cycle times, low responses of emails and phone marketing etc can be solved quite easily.

    Register your company at http://www.wapr.com

    ~Mani
    http://www.wapr.com
    B2B platform for SMEs a.k.a Social media for businesses

  • http://www.facebook.com/elias.shams Elias Shams

    It’s no brainer to see that social media is here to stay for good. Given vast variety of the existing channels to choose and stick with, it’s time for such a hot space to enter into a new category. There is a need for a portal to provide a quick and intelligent decision for both the consumer and the enterprise about their online connections.

    A Platform to Help us to Distinguish Our Quality vs. Quantity Friends, Fans, Followers, and Companies

    Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Youtube, Flickr and others have been doing a decent job of providing additional marketing exposure and even in some cases, additional revenue. However, as more and more social networking sites pop up, how do you manage your brand across all these channels? Maybe more importantly, which one of these sites should you select as the one that will help you best reach your target audience? The proliferation of the social media avenues is becoming overwhelming.

    This glut of information reminds me of the early 90’s when WWW was adopted broadly by the general public. Every company rushed to have a presence, to the point it became literally impossible to find the right information on the Web. That’s when a better generation of search engines – at first the Yahoo! and then Google – entered the market and helped us find the most relevant information by just typing simple keywords in their search box. If you had asked before Google launched, if there was a need for another search engine – most would have said no, we already have those….

    Then came Web 1.0 & 2.0 – Youtube, Flickr, myspace, Facebook, Twitter and countless others have turned everyday people into content producers, influencers and experts. We basically tripled down on the information overload How do you know which channels to select for deploying your social media strategy? How do you know which one is the right channel to let your fans and followers to find you, your products, and services? Most importantly, who is Joe Smith that is recommending that person, that company, that product?

    I hope my awesomize.me can accomplish such a mission. The site is not another social networking platform. Yet the portal to all your existing social media channels. The platform helps you, your fans, your potential clients to make an intelligent decision as to which company to connect to or follow via which social media channels and why? It’s free!

    Elias
    CEO & Founder
    http://awesomize.me

  • http://www.joshuabevan.com Joshua Bevan

    I agree and disagree. I think it depends on your business. If you’re in a service business where you get most of your clients from referrals,  then you have a chance to make huge amounts of Facebook revenue. But if your in a field where customer relationships don’t have that huge an impact, then Facebook is a waste of resources.

  • Leo

    All I have to say is that traditional websites are going nowhere. Facebook is a cheap alternative to a real website. This also means your response is going to be weak to say the least. If I am looking for a company,
    I do a google search. If you want to communitize businesses so that they can connect to one another and share ideas, products and soforth. Try http://www.pullusup.com It should boost your google rank if nothing else.

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  • http://twitter.com/DomainwrightLtd Domainwright Limited

    In my opinion facebook is a business tool, but is more of a place for social activities rather than business.  I use Twitter for business related to my website http://www.domainwright.com and find it more user friendly.
    That’s not to say it doesn’t have a place in business – any platform that gives publicity is welcome.

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