by Freddy J. Nager, Founder of Atomic Tango + Marketing Professor Who Likes Giving Multiple-Choice Quizzes (so much easier to grade)…
Despite all the research and analysis showing that most social media marketing is a waste of time, the hope persists among well-meaning business folk that somehow, someday, a well-timed Tweet or an unstoppable hashtag will obviate the need for (gasp!) advertising.
Nowhere is this optimism more persistent than on Facebook, where I’m still receiving invitations to like someone’s brand new Facebook Page, even though Facebook marketing (not counting the – gasp! – advertising) is more fairy tale than reality.
Regular readers of my blog know that I left the Atomic Tango Facebook Page in suspended animation a few months ago. It just wasn’t worth my time — time that could be better spent working on my pool shot.
Now, to likewise save my readers’ time, I put together this little quiz to help you decide whether to launch (or suspend) a Facebook Page for your business. It’s easy — no need to cheat, since the answers are all right here. Ready?
1. Why do you want a Facebook page?
- To make sales! Noble — but you might have better luck playing a lotto scratcher. Facebook and social media in general drive very few sales compared to the amount of effort you have to put in. Try an email list, instead. But if you insist, you may advance to the next question.
- Customer service. Why air your dirty laundry in public for others on Facebook to see and share? Instead, set up a contact form on your site, or an email address or phone number for customer service.
- To share stories, photos, and videos that my customers might like. OK, you get the spirit of social media: sharing inside secrets and other special treats for your fans. Keep going!
- Just to lock in my brand name so some squatter or spammer doesn’t grab it. Makes sense. Just don’t waste any time updating a placeholder Page.
2. Are your customers on Facebook?
- Yes. Proceed to the next question.
- No. Well, that was easy. You can stop here and join me in improving your pool shot.
- Sort of — I sell to other businesses and the government, but I figured that the buyers hang out on Facebook in their spare time. If they’re hanging out on Facebook, they’re obviously avoiding work. To reach business or government buyers, your better bets are marketing through Linkedin, an online trade publication, or a trade show.
3. Are most of your target customers ALREADY passionate about your brand? As in, will they consistently like, share, and comment on your posts? And — most importantly — will they visit your Page regularly on their own? (Hint: this passion is usually limited to social and political causes, sports teams, major media and entertainment brands, religions, celebrities, and certain animal species.)
- Yes. Then Facebook might just be for you. On to the next question!
- No. Then you better plan on buying ads (see the next question).
- Not yet, but social media will help me attract passionate fans because posts naturally go viral and word of mouth is the best form of marketing, right? You know, smoking all that stuff will eventually turn your brain into fried eggs… Just say no.
4. Will you buy ads to promote your posts on Facebook?
- Yes. Ah, good: you know that Facebook is now primarily an advertising platform for marketers. Get your credit card limit raised.
- No, I’m counting on free organic reach. Well, you’ll probably be counting on one finger. Facebook limits the initial, unsponsored reach of your posts to less than 2% of the people who “like” you. (FYI, Facebook is one greedy business.) You might as well just email or call your customers.
5. Do you have the time (or will you hire someone) to monitor your page regularly to respond to customers, delete spam, and post items of value?
- Yes. Then you’re set. Enjoy being part of Mark Zuckerberg’s ant farm! (But don’t blame me if he shakes it up at any time simply because, you know, he can.)
- No. So, uh, why didn’t you say so at the beginning? A Facebook Page is a living thing that requires constant care and maintenance. Like a houseplant. On that note, you’d get more value out of a nice fern.
As you can see, Facebook Pages aren’t for everyone — or even most people. Unless Facebook changes Pages to provide more benefit to their owners, they will likely go the way of branded AOL chatrooms, GeoCities sites, and Google+ profiles. (What? Google+ is still around? I didn’t even notice.)
Unfortunately, there’s no cheap alternative. Many businesses are returning to email. Others are trying direct mail (postcards can get pricey, but have a much better response rate than social media). And then there’s (gasp!) advertising. They all cost money, but you should consider them investments in your business. Facebook may cost you nothing up front, but here’s the biggest question in this quiz: What’s your time worth to you?