The Future of Facebook as a Marketing Tool For Small Business
We have a client who said that she didn’t use Facebook much personally and was going to delete the app from her phone. But she felt strongly that she should maintain a FB presence on both a page and a group (and she hired us to manage it.) What is the future of Facebook as a marketing tool for small business?
The larger question of leaving Facebook rears it’s ugly head as the latest scandal, up to 6.5 million photos accessed by 3rd party app makers. And a recent article about location services has us peering around every corner, sure that someone’s watching (they are, and we’ve willingly given them the tools to do so.)
Facebook has done some pretty bad things lately, and the latest report of “deny, delay and deflect” from FB executives on whether their platform is used to sow seeds of dissent in our country, manipulate our elections and allow foreign adversaries to have control of our social media platforms just for the sake of revenue, well, it’s pretty ugly.
The question has come up: should we support Facebook with our time, and advertising dollars? Many companies are questioning this as they question whether to even use the app personally. We’re not ready to ditch FB completely yet, but we are diversifying.
For clients that do not want to manage their own social media marketing but still want to maintain it, choosing a firm to manage it is the best way to manage social media. In this client’s case, it was not a big deal since 100% of her social media is managed by our firm. So she can feel free to delete the app from her phone and not use it personally, because our firm and our staff manages all the posts and inquiries to her brand page and group.
We’re intercepting more and more posts, comments and messages from first-time clients to brand Facebook pages, even in industries and for products that aren’t all that ‘social’. Why? Simply put, your customers are (likely) there. When we hear from clients that “why should I be on Facebook for my business” the first question we ask is “are your customers on Facebook in their off time?” If so, it’s a place you may also want to be. If they are leaving, its time for your business to leave and follow them.
If you manage your own social media, however, and expect to delete the Facebook app from your phone or tablet, you have to be mindful that you need to check FB from a desktop browser at least once or twice per day to ensure that you don’t have any comments or questions in your Facebook group or brand page that you need to answer. If you have a community manager in a group, you can probably safely check once per day as the group moderator will likely tag you if you’re needed.
You need to have Facebook savvy skills (and the app is changing all the time) to manage the network for marketing purposes.
But a bigger question comes up when we want to leave Facebook and yet expect that customers will stay there. What are we saying if WE are leaving and expecting customers to remain. Are they? Have they left too?
The issues surrounding the revelations that Facebook is manipulating us are serious. At the very least allowing hate speech, allowing bots to post divisive and false media reports, and taking money from foreign governments in the form of advertising revenue, well, it’s making us take pause. Do we want our firm, our clients and our business represented by Facebook? Do our customers want to be there still? Is Instagram as tainted because it’s owned by Facebook? Is there another platform delivering on a model that allows us to reach a global market with our products and yet still feel morally secure that we’re not all using something that’s harming us and our global community?
What options do you have?
- Switch to other platforms (understanding that Instagram is a Facebook-owned platform too)
- Use another parallel way to communicate with customers on their mobile phones – there are new community apps that don’t have that much traction yet, but might if we identify a top alternative and move there.
- Go back to e-mail marketing? It’s still effective, but it’s much less effective than it used to be for sales, and it has zero community development
Our recommendation is to begin broadening your base of social media platforms to use others such as Twitter, Linkedin, Pinterest (which is a visual search engine, not a social network.) Instagram is still a play for now (it’s owned by Facebook so the moral question still arises, even if the platform isn’t able to do the kind of damage that Facebook can.) The key driver for change is economic: is the lack of engagement we see on Facebook, plus the need for a dedicated community. We’re not abandoning it yet, but we’re diversifying. You should be too.