Is Facebook for Business Overrated
Is Facebook for Business Overrated
by

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 the Author

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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  • 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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  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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

  • 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

  • eSuiteOne

    Spot on!!!!!

  • 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.

  • 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.

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  • 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)

  • 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.

  • 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

  • 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.

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  • 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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  • 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

  • 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?

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  • Ask Logos how they feel, with a double roi from last year and $300,000 profit for them.
    http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/how-social-media-generated-300000-in-software-sales-in-a-weekend/

  • A3genealogy

    Thanks for confirming this. At a3genealogy we have been closely analyzing the stats.

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  • Binkthigger

    I am not certain that any social media vehicle will ever be purely results driven. It’s about exposure and developing a personality for a brand much more than a direct sales or communications vehicle. Additionally, different market segments will realize success in different ways. I happen to think that this is the perfect platform for any custom product manufacturer with evangelizing fans. Not so much for a realtor which is what the author’s background is in. You can’t expect direct sales but you can build an army of influencers.

  • I think the real test here is to put your money where you mouth is; take massive game changing action and delete your most active [by any measure] FB account and see what happens. Any other action/speculation on the subject is arbitrary at best. The platform is just too young and furthermore too fluid to pass such dire assumptions.

    • UrbaneWay

      Hi Mike, Actually, that is exactly what prompted the post. We would be interested in hearing about your experiences, and what is working on facebook for Mills, verses the effort and money spent if you care to share.

      • I think for us, it is too early to tell. We were a bit late to the table. That said, we have, in some isolated incidence, yielded leases from FB.

        The one example I can site is a property named Park Clayton located in the Dogtown neighborhood in STL. It's very near a major university and a major city park. It's 104 units and is largely occupied by students and faculty. Many of which are of an Asian decent.

        The team at the property is very active on their page to include posting many of their offline experiences. It just so happens that the Asian culture loves to participate in both the offline and online experiences. Recognizing this and playing to the innate celebrity in everyone, we post tons of pics. These pics have been shared with friends and families back in their homeland. That has lead to friends [read: trust factor] who are set for moving to STL for college to lease with us.

        As we learn more over time and through experimenting; I will share on my blog.

        Have a smashing day.

        M

  • Eric! Great job being controversial. How dare you say that! Facebook FTW!!! Ha.

    Anyway, I think when measured by leads and sales, Facebook represents a very small percentage for most businesses that I’ve talked to, especially since you can’t properly attribute leads and sales to Facebook very easily. However, there is def. an impact and you can’t deny that. It will be hard to measure but we’ll get to a reasonable place. Facebook is just one piece of the puzzle, but I think hype is okay to get everyone to think about it. The market will mature.

    • Anonymous

      Hi Ricky, Sometimes when you write an article one never knows where it might go, and many times the learning comes from the comments of both the readers and yourself. You summed things up nicely with your comment, thanks for stopping by.

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  • Holy cow. Did you ever strike a nerve, Mark!

    I am old enough to remember conversations and angst like this when companies started having websites. OOO. Is it worth the investment? Will I waste my time? Hand wring, hand wring, hand wring.

    Let's all look at the 500 pound gorilla in the room. We are in the middle of a social media bubble. We have a FRENZY of tool development, new companies, new apps. Consumer attention is fragmenting in a million directions as they start to truly incorporate pushed media and custom designed info into their lives. I think the skeptics have been very surprised how fast all this change has taken place, how quickly people are changing their lives to accommodate it, and the short path it has taken for new tech to become mainstream. It is becoming very hard to get eyeballs and engagement as everyone else floods into the Facebook and social media space.

    HOWEVER… I think every business should have some kind of Facebook presence, even if it is a bare bones places page. It is like not having a phone listing. You need to at least plant a flag. Every business these days has a website and if you don't, it makes you seem a little less legitimate, doesn't it? Soon, it will be weird if you don't have a Facebook page.

    Now, whether or not you launch big campaigns on it, or have fancy microsites, is another question. Can you provide the kind of content people will find interesting as posts? Can you provide background knowledge they might need? Can you provide them a service or convenience on the site that would be of real value? Can your Facebook page offer a valid community experience that would enrich their lives? Would they respond to special offers?

    If not, then don't worry about it. Just put up a basic page and check it to respond when people need to talk to you. At least you will be offering them a transparent way to communicate with the company.

    • Agreed. At the very basic point, presence is key. We don’t know what will become of the “infrastructure” in the future.

  • Studies and research reveal the key demographics in our business are the most active or spend the most money on Facebook, which means we are able to engage a key part of our customers in a place where they live and share with others. Viral community and direct conversation will develop loyalty, help find solutions to challenges our customers have with our company, and ultimately result in some sales, which is better than no sale. If you are spending a lot of money on social media, my question to you is…why? Community, people and discussion in my everday life only require a little time here and there.

  • Meganej

    While I find it unlikely as well that Facebook will replace the traditional Website, the value of having both is not to be underrated. Like Adam Japko mentions below, it is difficult to track the results of something such as a Facebook page. The level of involvement with the community, comments and number of likes could be reflective or not. Having a Facebook page is currently the norm, and a valuable asset because it offers the public a chance to interact with a company/ brand and possibly be directing to the main website.
    Social Media is heavily about establishing presence in the online community. Having a facebook page is more likely to be beneficial than harmful, and can serve as a valuable tool for interaction if managed properly.

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  • Hey Eric…intriguing questions you raise here. How do you track the results or lack of results that is relegating FB to the back of the bus? Also, is your experience across multiple consumer products or concentrated in one area. Really curious about your learning here. Hope you are well.

    • UrbaneWay

      Hey Adam, Good to hear from you, thanks for stopping by,
      Simple put, I am comparing what businesses are spending on Facebook marketing campaigns, contests and sweepstakes to the result, as measured by “Likes”, new “Fans” and “Engagement” I have always thought that our own Facebook marketing was the lowest leverage of anything in our toolbox. Yet, our clients are so enamored by the Facebook Circus, that it is challenging to get them convinced that a blog or on line magazine far and away outperform Facebook.

      Having said that, there are a ton of reasons to utilize facebook, I just wouldn't start there.

      • OK Eric. That clarifies things and have seen a lot of data on the lack of FB investment ROI on contests, sweepstakes, etc. Fact is, you are networking primarily with people you are already connected with, so adding a lot of new activity and fighting through FB's algorithms can be a losing battle.

        I concur that there is a rush to FB fan pages in certain sectors of social media marketers that we work with….and little return occurs when the clients are not engaged in working it with us on their own behalf. But you can't ignore the fact that when the average FB user with 130 friends curates business or brand content and shares it across his friend network that this method of “recommended” consumer distribution is awfully powerful and needs to be measured in different ways. How, I am not certain.

        Have you heard about FB's new “sponsored stories” ?

        Adam

        • UrbaneWay

          Adam, You hit on the million dollar issue, “when someone shares” yet getting someone to that call to action is the issue really, because when they do, as you say it is very powerful.

          Think about our own actions, while you may share wine related content, but likely never would share content form your dry cleaner, even if it was stellar. I am somewhat familiar with the concept of sponsored stories, but have not used them.

  • Barbara Savona

    When I read the title of this article, I was intrigued. As a marketer for the multifamily industry, I too have felt the frustrations that comes with promoting yourself on FB. Questions like, “Is this worth the effort, the cost, and the energy?” But the bottom line is that we have to communicate the way that our clients want to communicate. So this means that our marketing strategy has to be inclusive, rather than exclusive. We don't exclude Facebook from our program, but we don't consider it the “end all.” I have to agree with Mark when he said that this is a marathon and not a sprint. Our goal should be to use FB as another platform to allow our message to be heard. I was listening to a presentation by Seth Godin on http://www.ted.com and he emphasized how as marketers our message has to be “Remarkable” to be heard. Maybe we should focus on making our content remarkable and building on quality.

    • UrbaneWay

      Does Facebook for Business Work,
      Hi Barbara,
      Apartment Marketing is my passion, My question to you is just because our clients request Facebook Marketing, why do we need to do it, IF it doesn't really work, at what point do we stand up and say that It Doesn't Work?

      • I am all about shooting straight with my clients. So I never promise overnight success. However, I do have clients that are having great success on FB. They are using FB to communicate with current residents, reach out to new prospects, etc. So I wouldn't discount that FB can work. I guess it depends on what your goals are. For myself, I have found success on FB with my marketing business, Sprout Marketing. I don't have a huge number of fans yet, but I have gotten new clients this way. By engaging people and peaking their curiosity, I have generated leads, traffic and ultimately sales.
        Bottom line: It's our job to tell our clients what works and what doesn't. That is how they will grow to trust us. I've often told a client about a marketing idea, “I don't see this yielding a huge return, but if you feel strongly about it, let's go for it. I will back it to the best of my ability.”

        I applaud the fact that you are speaking your opinion. Reading these posts I am surprised at the uproar. There is no one-size fits all approach to marketing. And we all are entitled to our opinion. Deliver what you feel confident in to your clients.

  • UrbaneWay

    Mike, Hello
    You raise an excellent point about boring and mediocrity, and to your point, no social media tools will fix that. You also make the point that Facebook IS a lead generator, congratulations on the new business!

  • I agree 100%. Especially with real estate rebated business, such as mine. Clients still and will pretty much always go to Google and so a search for service type products.

    I can't see Facebook every changing this.

  • UrbaneWay

    Does Facebook Work for Small Business
    Hi Heather, You have sighted an excellent example, thank you. I think part of the issue is that many small businesses end up focusing on “selling more stuff” because there is no budget line item for the other soft benefits.

    To address your question about our Facebook practice for our apartment brand, yes, we pass everyone over our Facebook “Like” page before entering our web site. I get that isn't a strategy for everyone and it started just as an experiment that we decided to let play out.

  • For small businesses, Facebook can be a very valuable marketing tool. I think the most important thing for marketers to keep in mind about Facebook and other social media channels is that the value is in building awareness and community, not making a direct sale.

    Unlike traditional channels, Facebook provides a platform for two way communication, feedback loops and customer engagement in ways that get users to know, like and trust the people behind the brand. Once that happens, your customers are more likely to become advocates of your business. Facebook has changed the way people connect, discover and share. From a marketers perspective, it is simply word-of-mouth marketing enabled and quantified through technology. Facebook enables marketers to identify advocates, encourage them to spread the word with the simple click of a button and track their ability to influence like never before.

    While marketing on Facebook is not a complete strategy, it is certainly a critical component to most marketing mixes. For example, we have a customer, Dingo Bones, that grew their email list substantially by adding our Join My Mailing List widget to their Facebook page. If you set the right kind of goals and integrate social media with email and other marketing tactics, Facebook can deliver business results that contribute value to a holistic online marketing program.

    • @Mark.. Great point!.. Social media can be a powerful tool for your business however if used incorrectly it could hurt your brand, I just read in a white paper http://bit.ly/OLvPJx

  • Eric, I think you are WAY off base. You, of all people, should know this is a marathon and not a sprint. This isn't about a campaign that ends, or something that will give you an immediate return. The problem is many people are rushing it and treating it like a traditional ad campaign. It's not a “Build it and they will come” plan, and it's not a race to 10,000 fans. Even if you just have 200 (that really care) that can be HUGE! (If you want it to be).

    You and I have talked a number of times about quantity and quality. To me, this is a “quantity” concern (or disillusion) you have. As Lisa pointed out, you've made some efforts to focus on quantity for some of your clients. Is this post an effort to relieve some stress or throw an excuse for why the quantity strategy doesn't really work as you thought it would? Are you the stressed out agency that is being forced to do things that “don't work” from your perspective? Is this a Social Media ROI discussion, but you're choosing to throw Facebook, specifically, under the bus?

    There's no cookie cutter approach to this, Eric. Facebook may not be a strength for your agency, but I don't think it's overrated. The real challenge with Facebook and putting effort into it is that you don't own the page. It could potentially disappear any day. If I support anything you are saying it's that businesses shouldn't be throwing money away on Facebook, and make sure they don't put all their SM spend in that basket. There definitely needs to be a true strategy, and that would not be something equal to a short term shot in the arm. It likely will change overtime as well. And, the strategy for measuring your efforts will and should vary from company to company.

    For some, Facebook may not be a good investment, but you're being WAY too absolute with your negative opinion on its benefits. For the targeted reach one gets on Facebook, the investment can be peanuts compared to traditional advertising. Your post just seems to be a short-sighted observation.

    • UrbaneWay

      Are Your Facebook Efforts Working
      Mark, Are you having a bad day, you seem a bit “attacking”. The point here is that it is alarming that business owners have become hypnotized with Farcebook. You and I have had a ton of conversation that Social Media is a slow play, I agree with you and I get that.

      However the amount of money and effort being thrown at Facebook by businesses to get “Likes” and “Fans” may well be spent elsewhere. I am not saying Facebook doesn't have a place, but it is NOT worth the effort many folks are putting into it.

      Here is the good news, we can all see every businesses Facebook wall, and the lustrous and alleged “engagement” and for the most part, for most businesses it doesn't exist.

      • To your last point, Eric, the problem here isn't Facebook. It's a boring company with no personality. The company with non-existent engagement on its Facebook page probably has little traffic to its blog, maybe a dozen views on YouTube (tops) and a Twitter stream full of links to press releases. It's not Facebook, it's the brand and their story that no one cares about. (In reference to the original post, I can attribute three clients and four paid speaking gigs in the past three months directly to my company's Facebook presence. In my view, that has more than paid for the time spent on my business page.)

        • UrbaneWay

          Mike, Hello
          You raise an excellent point about boring and mediocrity, and to your point, no social media tools will fix that. You also make the point that Facebook IS a lead generator, congratulations on the new business!

        • This is a great answer Mike.

        • Mike I completely agree.

          Contests, Promotions, Coupons, and all Facebook marketing fails when it does not do two things well: #1 Provide a Remarkable Experience and #2 Have Goals and Actions Past “Likes” and “Shares”.

          Purpose driven marketing is the only kind that matters. It’s like the thousands of marketers who are working like dogs and spending tons of money to get traffic for traffics sake. I think what this article should really be discussing is that getting Facebook “likes” for the sake of “likes” is not a winning strategy and is overrated. Getting Facebook likes to build trust, share products, and encourage sales is completely different. Especially if there is a detailed and human plan behind the strategy.

          In regard to the “remarkable experience”, I have seen so few Facebook pages that actually offer something interesting or special. They think just having a brand and a page will some how help. Facebook is where Blogging was 3 years ago, trying to realize that amazing content is different than just hitting “publish”.

      • My apologies, you know I can get passionate and love the banter. (Not much different really than your attacking post here. Perception is reality, right?)

        I guess I'll question your “amount of money” argument. What are you basing that on? Likes? Where else are you going to spend that and get the return? I guess it's all relative and specific to the business really.

        In my opinion, it should be a growth strategy with Facebook. Probably very similar to the way you've built you blog and twitter following. Not measuring the spikes (although those will sometimes happen), but the steady growth of engagement, likes, etc. I believe there is a value in that, and I'm still shocked you're essentially dismissing Facebook as a value play in social media here. If you want to question that value feel free. I can tell you our efforts have steady growth.

        And, your “every business Facebook wall” point is erroneous. There are good examples out there. All the poor ones just haven't figured out their niche for their strategy. There's potential for anyone.

        • UrbaneWay

          Ha, No offense taken Mark,
          I am mostly referring to the numerous failed contests and sweepstakes, one that really works is rare. And, the last point really isn't erroneous, as even the Top (20) Facebook Pages in Inc Magazine yesterday weren't really all that great were they?

          See you in ten minutes for the podcast!

          • Actually, Eric, I think most of the Inc. Top 20 are FANTASTIC pages! What article were you reading? Brendan's Irish Pub is an awesome example for a small local business too! http://www.inc.com/20-awesome-

            I guess I'm frustrated with your position because it's wishy-washy. Now you're pointing fingers at contests and sweepstakes. Your post doesn't mention that at all. Those are just tactics of an overall strategy. And, they cost peanuts to put on so I still don't get your expense argument.

            In my opinion your thought process is flawed here. I'm sorry if I appear that I'm attacking again, but you seem to have blinders on or something. Yes, blogging is very important, but Facebook is where the consumers are. A company should definitely have a website/social media hub that they own, but there are plenty of channels to use beyond your own page. And Facebook is a BIG channel!

            Just because you don't like the way the game is being played today, it doesn't mean you have to take your ball and go home. Maybe you need to revisit your game plan before throwing in the towel.

  • EXCELLENT discussion Eric. Businesses realize that there are 500 million people on Facebook. Most of those people want to buy something. If they can get their product in front of even a small percentage of those people they feel a sale can be made. The problem with that mentality is that people are on Facebook to be social. Unless your product has a social component to it (restaurants or places to hang out) you will be lost in the noise.

    Seriously… what does having 10,000 Likes really get you? The numbers tell us not much.

    • Bill, can you please highlight some businesses that DO NOT have a social component to their operation?

      • Semantics Mark but I do get it though. If you're building a good viable brand and engaging with your customers then that IS your social component regardless of your business type. Suck at either one of them and you've got no reason to get involved at all.

  • Yes, it's overrated. I am a fan of dozens of sites, but I have NEVER taken an action to purchase based on anything from Facebook. In fact, once I “like” a site I rarely even ever return. It's a necessary evil at this point, but the return on hype is very low.

    • Cathy

      I would have to disagree. As a marketer, it’s a great place to advertise ‘facebook’ only specials to help increase revenue. For example, I use Clarins Skin Care Products, so I became a fan. That said, I get regular posts from Clarins advertising specials, contests, makeup tips, etc. Soon, too, you’ll be able to purchase straight from the company’s Facebook page as they’re offering stores.

    • Cathy

      I would have to disagree. As a marketer, it’s a great place to advertise ‘facebook’ only specials to help increase revenue. For example, I use Clarins Skin Care Products, so I became a fan. That said, I get regular posts from Clarins advertising specials, contests, makeup tips, etc. Soon, too, you’ll be able to purchase straight from the company’s Facebook page as they’re offering stores.

  • I've been saying this for ages. And recently been think how long has Facebook got

  • heatherwhaling

    I think it's important to remember that not all businesses that leverage Facebook share the “let's just sell stuff” mentality. For sales-driven organizations, certainly the hope is that it will generate new leads or support ongoing sales efforts, but there are other viable uses for Facebook, too. For example, one of my clients is a large, annual event with a very strong, interactive Facebook page. The time we put toward starting discussions and providing resources to the fans are worthwhile because 1) We know that a significant amount of traffic to the event registration page comes from Facebook 2) The week leading up to the event, there were a lot of questions about parking, arrival times, health and safety issues, etc from the Facebook community. Because they had an outlet — the wall — to post these questions, we were able to address their concerns quickly, providing for a much smoother event better event-day experience. 3) Our event demands a significant personal commitment, which can sometimes require some education and encouragement. Facebook provides a platform for both those purposes. Combined, these three reasons are very worthwhile in the eyes of our executive director and board. While sales are certainly important, we've found that's not the only reason to have a Facebook presence.

    Not sure if the Urbane Apts website still has this, but didn't it have a “login,” forcing people to “like” the page before they could access the website? If Facebook for business is a waste of resources, why require people to “like” you before seeing your site? Just curious …

    Interesting food for thought, Eric. Thanks for starting an interesting discussion! :)

    Heather
    @prTini

    • UrbaneWay

      Does Facebook Work for Small Business
      Hi Heather, You have sighted an excellent example, thank you. I think part of the issue is that many small businesses end up focusing on “selling more stuff” because there is no budget line item for the other soft benefits.

      To address your question about our Facebook practice for our apartment brand, yes, we pass everyone over our Facebook “Like” page before entering our web site. I get that isn't a strategy for everyone and it started just as an experiment that we decided to let play out.

  • ty_frank

    Many people said the same thing at one time (and some still do) about websites: “there is not a direct correlation between having this online presence and sales.” But if you don't have a website now, your credibility is sunk. The Internet is, at the very minimal, the new yellow pages. Who uses a phone book anymore? Most look to the net for these answers. Will a Facebook page eventually become that measuring stick? I don't know. I could see more an more small businesses go the route of a FB page as their homepage, especially with all of the customizable features. It saves money in hosting, in web design, in maintenance. Either way, I don't see anything “wrong” with being where the people are. And the people are on the Facebook.

  • Matt Gregg

    Very interesting take. I'm in agreement with most of these comments from my quick read as far as social media being a communication vehicle/tactic as a component of a broader marketing strategy. Not all marketing goals are financially measurable, especially when you're using Facebook as a means to stay connected with your customers and build relationships.

    That said, what do you think about mechanisms such as Facebook and FourSquare deals as a way to get a more measurable impact?

  • It is good to see a voice of wisdom pointing out that the company that will benefit the most from Facebook advertising is Facebook. Businesses who put all their eggs in the basket of any site that has publicly reserved the right to break them all any time they feel like it are simply not thinking ahead.

    Those who seek the shortest path instead of their own long-term good are likely to hit a dead-end in their road.

  • A good marketing strategy includes goals. Goals will be used to measure success (or failure). At that point the marketer and the customer should sit down and discuss if the continued investment into the social marketing strategy is a good idea or not. Also, this is the time to revise any strategies that are ineffective. I see no Facebook corner, only a Facebook wide-open road.

    I don't believe that a blog is the answer to everyone's social strategy just like Facebook isn't always a good fit. There are occasions where a blog is not needed and Facebook pages will do very well without one. There is no one-size fits all. Don't be brainwashed by the whole idea that you have to blog or Facebook won't work. I know many companies that are blogging and their blogs are only competing with their own web traffic, not increasing traffic but actually competing.

  • UrbaneWay

    Facebook For Business, Is It Working
    Hi Lisa, Thanks for stopping by. “Stirring the pot” is always welcome here at SME. Yes, we have a client that has set a target of 10,000 Facebook Fans, and they will likely get there.

    The point here though is at what cost. Businesses are spending lots of marketing dollars on campaigns, contests and the like, all in the name of “Engagement”, but at what cost does it make sense? Further, agencies and consultants are being backed into the Facebook Corner, and the whole marketing strategy becomes overshadowed as such.

  • Yes, Facebook works, if you understand the environment. A financial consultant customizing a fan page to sell a free consultation? Failing.

    A financial consultant with a personal profile who is authentically sharing who they are, what they believe in and how they think — often posting tips, trends and responding to friends when they're looking for advice from their networks? Winning!

  • Tim Wathen

    Im in television advertising and I dont get the business idea of marketing on facebook or the highly over rated Groupon!

    Television is traditional and you can be so creative! What more can I say?

    • “Television is traditional” might say it all. And yeah, you can get

      creative, but it's a one-way street, Tim. If customers want to talk back,

      they can't go up to your commercial and say, “Can you clarify that?” I'm not

      saying TV doesn't have merits, but you've got to come up with a better

      argument than it's traditional and creative, my friend.

    • Tim, people have been trying to avoid TV ads at all cost for years now. These are starting to move to online video and people are hating it. That says a lot.

      Facebook is about permission – I give brands & companies permission to talk to me in a conversational tone, so I can begin to trust them & maybe, later on, buy something from them as now I trust the brand. I'll also spread their messages to my friends if they're worthwhile. And who to you think my friends will trust: me or a TV ad?

      I'd like to see someone do that with TV ads, as creative as they might be.

      • I have to step in here to address the

    • Also, I fast-forward through TV commercials, or put them on mute, or watch steaming programs from the internet without commercials. And like Jason said: no feedback, no interactions, no relationship building.

      • Greg, I’ve been reading your comments and respect your opinions, but you’re wrong here. In my comment above I mention a client who uses TV as their primary advertising medium. They do it in an engaging way. They get lots of feedback and interactions because they build relationships inside their store. Not all relationships happen online or on a Facebook page.

    • How would you respond to the argument that viewers can now skip through commercials?

      • The same way that not everyone reads your Facebook page status updates.

  • I believe that FB for business just like anything in social media is a small tool in a collective, meaning in addition to other methods, tactics, and strategies. I see it a lot in the salon and spa industry they do not have a blog, let alone a website for a web presence, and rely only on Facebook to convey the business message. I believe a blog is the most important item next to a website, and use social media to spread that message. Too many people are relying solely on social media and wonder why they aren't seeing results.

  • I agree that there are better channels out there to drive sales than Facebook. But is your marketing strategy only geared at driving sales?
    Facebook is a great way to keep existing customers coming back and being engaged, or to solve customer service issues.
    So yes, Facebook for sales does not really work, but I don't think business is just about making the sale.

  • Lisa Trosien

    Eric, forgive me, but didn't you deploy a strategy to get something like 10,000 or 100,00 'likes' for a furniture store client of yours? I seem to remember reading quite a big about that. Was that their idea or yours? I wondered at the time if that was a viable strategy. I'm not trying to stir the pot; just trying to get some perspective on the perspective you're discussing here.

    Lisa Trosien

    • UrbaneWay

      Facebook For Business, Is It Working
      Hi Lisa, Thanks for stopping by. “Stirring the pot” is always welcome here at SME. Yes, we have a client that has set a target of 10,000 Facebook Fans, and they will likely get there.

      The point here though is at what cost. Businesses are spending lots of marketing dollars on campaigns, contests and the like, all in the name of “Engagement”, but at what cost does it make sense? Further, agencies and consultants are being backed into the Facebook Corner, and the whole marketing strategy becomes overshadowed as such.

      • A good marketing strategy includes goals. Goals will be used to measure success (or failure). At that point the marketer and the customer should sit down and discuss if the continued investment into the social marketing strategy is a good idea or not. Also, this is the time to revise any strategies that are ineffective. I see no Facebook corner, only a Facebook wide-open road.

        I don't believe that a blog is the answer to everyone's social strategy just like Facebook isn't always a good fit. There are occasions where a blog is not needed and Facebook pages will do very well without one. There is no one-size fits all. Don't be brainwashed by the whole idea that you have to blog or Facebook won't work. I know many companies that are blogging and their blogs are only competing with their own web traffic, not increasing traffic but actually competing.

      • Well also, what's the value of having 10,000 FB fans to the business? Was it reach?

        Does your business want 10,000 fans on FB or 10,000 new customers acquired through FB?

      • Lisa Trosien

        http://www.socialmediaexplorer

        25,000

        Was that their idea or yours? And has it worked? I questioned it at the time…I mean, seriously, 25,000 people to 'like' a Michigan furniture store? But that, combined with your post here, have me intrigued.

        • UrbaneWay

          Hi Lisa,
          We have experienced great success with our furniture client, and have increased their web site traffic by 22% through customized on line content.They have a strong web site with over a million and a half page views a month, and we have also increased physical sales.

          Part of the point of this post is that businesses are allocating a disproportionate amount of resources to facebook, even when other portions of the overall marketing strategy are working better,

  • People have a tendency to look at social media as a failure if it doesn't generate sales, because they view it as a marketing platform. What if social media saved you money instead of generating new revenue? Isn't that just as good?

    What seems more cost effective… having 10 people run a call-center to handle customer inquiries/complaints, or have 3 or 4 people handle the same volume through Facebook? The added bonus of running your customer service department through Facebook is that you're publicly showcasing your conflict resolution skills to anyone else that happens to drop by.

    In reference to your link, Zappos is notorious for doing this well. If you look through their Facebook wall they're handling customer questions and creating brand ambassadors left and right. I see expense savings and new revenue all over that wall.

  • Guest

    I certainly hope my competitors read and believe your story, Eric. I hope they spend lots and lots of their money on conventional advertising and don't waste their time with Social Media Marketing. Oh . . . and we can put their pictures next to yours in the museum of people that didn't make the change . . . I think that's in the dinosaur section. Your article is very well written and very convincing. I just hope my competitors read it.

    • UrbaneWay

      Dear “Guest” (Do you have a name?)
      With all due respect, I think you have missed the point, we are not implying that Social Media Marketing isn't effective. Quite the contrary,

  • Eric,

    The barrier for entry is so low for Facebook page (vs. a blog or website that needs to be designed, hosted, etc) that I would confidently say that far more attempts at using FB for business fail miserably than could be considered a measurable success.

    First, Ken Mueller is right when he says it's about an integrated approach. It's all about finding the audiences where they are, and sometimes they're not on Facebook. But even if they are, a hyper-focused approach to FB can only take you so far. As consumers, we're many places, and our time on Facebook is only fleeting at best. You have to use multiple channels to nudge them along their customer journey.

    To say Facebook for Business is overrated is like saying working out or dieting is overrated. So many people try it and put forth such a poor effort that they see little to no results. They both require a prolonged, consistent, almost daily effort – but with that effort you can see measurable results as long as those measurements and benchmarks are established before the campaign starts. So, if the majority of people fail, does that mean it's not a worthwhile endeavor?

    Our agency works with a client who has found tremendous success using Facebook for business. They're a regional television station that offers a variety of programming, but specifically they syndicate the hit comedy “How I Met Your Mother.” We've helped them create a Facebook Fan Page (which includes an episode guide, schedule, “Barney Bro Burn” app and more) for the show itself to act as a fan community which in only a few months has grown to over 100,000 fans. We've ensured that it's result oriented not by just counting fans, but measuring against their viewership and ratings, and the FB page has helped HIMYM leap to the top of their ratings charts.

    I'm not arguing that because we've found success that EVERYONE should have a Facebook page. That would be grossly untrue. Facebook isn't for everyone. But if you find it IS right for you, include it as part of a larger multi-touchpoint strategy, commit to the effort necessary to keep it updated with fresh content and engagement, and measure against key performance indicators, then you have an opportunity to succeed on Facebook.

  • mikethegardener

    Facebook for us is more of a means to stay engaged with our customer base, answer questions, assistance etc. For us it is not so much a sales tool.

  • UrbaneWay

    Are You Drinking the facebook Koolaide
    Hi Urs, Thanks for nice comments, much appreciated. The hope is that folks aren't defensive about engagement, that isn't the point here, we all want engagement for our businesses and our clients business. However, marketers are working really hard on Facebook strategies, most of which simply aren't working,

  • UrbaneWay

    Are You Drinking the facebook Koolaide
    Hi Urs, Thanks for nice comments, much appreciated. The hope is that folks aren't defensive about engagement, that isn't the point here, we all want engagement for our businesses and our clients business. However, marketers are working really hard on Facebook strategies, most of which simply aren't working,

  • Facebook needs to be looked at as a communication tool (as does all social media). Think of it more like the invention of the telephone and how that was implemented into business. Companies shouldn't be creating “social media departments”, that'd be like having a “telephone department”.

    What they should be doing is integrating social media into their existing business strategies. Maybe some of those strategies are to reduce call center volume and resolve customer problems faster and more efficiently. By establishing your company's Facebook wall as a place to do this, you're finding a good use for Facebook, reducing costs, and improving customer satisfaction.

    So I agree, Facebook is pointless for companies when they just throw up a page without their business goals in mind. But when you do it right, you can see some impressive results.

    • lauraclick

      I agree with you. It's all about strategy. If you don't have goals in place and a strategy on how to get there, you most certainly will flounder with your efforts….regardless of which social network you use.

      • Thanks for the support, Laura. It's definitely time for people to start thinking about social media as a tool to enhance their current efforts and not as an entirely new entity… and certainly not as just a marketing channel.

    • UrbaneWay

      Facebook for Business Isn't a Wonder Drug
      Greg, Thank you for stopping by. I get your first two paragraphs, and I want to believe that, however I just don't think that is really how it is working out. One could argue that if a single customer is saved, all the effort is worth it, maybe. But, if businesses looked at the amount of money they are spending on Facebook, verses any measurable outcome, it is far from where we should be spending marketing dollars.

      Even the (20) businesses listed yesterday in Inc, http://www.inc.com/ss/20-best-… weren't all that great really. Do you have any better examples, we would love the feedback,

      • People have a tendency to look at social media as a failure if it doesn't generate sales, because they view it as a marketing platform. What if social media saved you money instead of generating new revenue? Isn't that just as good?

        What seems more cost effective… having 10 people run a call-center to handle customer inquiries/complaints, or have 3 or 4 people handle the same volume through Facebook? The added bonus of running your customer service department through Facebook is that you're publicly showcasing your conflict resolution skills to anyone else that happens to drop by.

        In reference to your link, Zappos is notorious for doing this well. If you look through their Facebook wall they're handling customer questions and creating brand ambassadors left and right. I see expense savings and new revenue all over that wall.

  • IMO Facebook is primarily a channel for non-business communication. Traditional one-way marketing on Facebook may do more harm than good for your business. You need to comunicate your value in a non-business way; Keep it light, be humorous and engaging. Done right, you can trigger a viral wave, generating postive awareness for your business. http://www.onlinemarketingstream.com/...

  • Most companies I talk to about seo, say that they have a fan page and are just using that..I say you can not use that as a website..they own that content not you..so I convince them its best to have a site and rank online.

    “Black Seo Guy “Signing Off”

  • tell me one thing… when people will stop talking about facebook? it is a communication tool which is now a little more than was in the beginning)but that is it..

  • It's not about Facebook. It's about an integrated approach. For my own business, I use a combination of Facebook, Twitter, and blogging, and the combination of the three is what my business is built upon (and perhaps throw LinkedIn in there as well). It's where I get my clients. Incredibly high ROI. If I removed any one of those elements, people would notice. As for my clients, I promote a similar approach, and the ones that are doing it well are definitely seeing an increase in business. Some of them are even eliminating other forms of traditional advertising and yellow pages, thereby cutting costs in areas that also are difficult to measure. They save money on one side, and make more money on the other. And Facebook is a big part of that.

    It all comes down to your approach. those businesses that treat Facebook as just another website will not see the return.

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  • Eric

    This is a great post and we have tried very hard in measuring Facebook impact – particularly focus and roi

    Quite frankly I have experienced success with consumer brands. Example is the case were by pushing the Like button I get a discount coupon, price reduction, etc..

    Nevertheless, even here customer reviews and communities where people can rate the supplier's service level will be far more important in customers' purchasing decision than a Facebook page.

    For B2B we just started to budget the whole thing very carefully and set ourselves a limit both for financially and human resource wise (i.e. time).

    We do find that we are reaching potential clients this way that we have not connected with before anywhere else (e.g., LinkedIn). However, we try to get them to subscribe to our blog content to be sure to stay connected.

    I truly wonder how other managers handle this challenge. Thanks for stating your case so strongly.

    • UrbaneWay

      Are You Drinking the facebook Koolaide
      Hi Urs, Thanks for nice comments, much appreciated. The hope is that folks aren't defensive about engagement, that isn't the point here, we all want engagement for our businesses and our clients business. However, marketers are working really hard on Facebook strategies, most of which simply aren't working,

      • Well Eric

        I did not know that I misunderstood. I thought we are trying to engage to achieve whatever (more interactions, sales), etc.

        Of course we may develop a strategy to reach these objectives but I totally agree that most of these are failing miserably. But we can agree …. if you have free product to give away, you succeed anytime as this list from the Inc. magazine suggests:

        http://twitter.com/ComMetrics/

        Thanks for replying.

  • I do it because the way I've been doing it works to drive traffic when the websites are properly set up to process those leads into sales. But I do agree that it's not a marketing vehicle. With the exception of the ads section, it was never meant to be.

    Can you make a Fan Page drive up newsletter subscriptions? Sure. Can you leverage your profile into more traffic to your site? Yes. But 1- you can do this without spending hours on FB every day. And 2- why market on Facebook when great content and a little networking can do it for you 100 times better.

    I also agree that no one should be setting up Facebook for the sake of doing it. If you're not getting a measurable result from a marketing activity, you have to ask yourself: Am I doing it effectively, and if not, is there an effective strategy? If not, you move on.

  • Working with clients, I always start by listening out and analysing where the conversations are taking place online before we start to think about how best to engage. For clients with a B2B play, Facebook often doesn't reach the top 10 in relevant platforms. Yet, faced with cold hard facts, clients often still want a Facebook page..usually because 'everybody' has one, or a competitor has one. Sigh!

    • UrbaneWay

      Does Facebook for Business Work?

    • UrbaneWay

      Does Facebook for Business Work?
      Hi Sherrilynne, This begs the question of is Facebook popular because everyone thinks it is the place to be, or because of actual business results. Something not mentioned in the post is the amount of work required to garnish engagement, and does that make financial sense. having said that, I am all for engagement with customers, but at what price?

  • Anonymous

    Eric – The problem with the SMB labs piece and the talking heads that they are preaching to an unassuming mass that thinks that their word is gospel.

    Facebook is not the Internet and you won shit on there. Pushing people to create a web presence is pure folly as the site may not be the top spot in a year or two (think Myspace) and if there is downtime, a customer will just as easily go to another business that has a site that is running when they are looking to purchase.

    Plus what happens if FB decides to charge businesses to play in their sandbox?

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