Are your prospects really on Facebook?
Do you think that Facebook just isn’t right for your company? Maybe the audience for your product isn’t looking on Facebook to buy it? These days, it seems that social media is all that marketers want to talk about. You shouldn’t feel embarrassed if you answered that Facebook isn’t right for you. Maybe it’s not.
Why are so many people falling all over themselves to convince you that you need to get your business on Facebook?
If you’re going to do social media right, it’s going to take a lot of time and attention. It’s not like buying an ad where the only trick is getting the creative to the publisher by their deadline. And what do you get for your effort? On Facebook, you’re not selling products. You’re happy if you can just get a few more Likes.
I know what you’re thinking. All Facebook is good for is sharing a picture of the steak you ate for dinner or for Uncle Earl to share a funny cat video. You want customers, not a Photo-shopped picture of a squirrel!
That all seems logical, but then again, we’ve all heard of companies that have made huge profits through their social network.
What are they doing differently?
The most basic truth is the three things that matter most to your business are location, location and location. You’ve got to be where your customers are! If your market is international, certain ethnic groups, people over age 65, company executives, or rural families, then it’s going to be tough to reach them through Twitter, Facebook or Google+.
And what if your company sells B2B? I don’t think that there are many procurement managers sitting at their computers right now, checking Facebook to see if they should hire you to service their HVAC system.
No one logs into Facebook to find life insurance.
You are absolutely right … but this isn’t actually how social media works for business. Companies that get this right are the ones turning a profit in social media.
62% of Americans actively use social media
That’s not everyone, but it’s more people than the total number of people who voted for any of the Presidential candidates in the last election. It’s not much below the number of Americans with cable television. More people in the USA regularly check Facebook than remember getting gasoline for $1 a gallon. The point is it’s a lot of people. No matter who you are marketing to, some percentage of them are online checking a social networking site right now.
But that still doesn’t address the obvious challenge: what does being on Twitter or Facebook have to do with selling my product?
Fundamental to the buying process is the point of choice. It’s the moment when your prospective customer decides to become your customer. Everything that leads up to that moment is marketing. Everything after that moment is customer service. Where is your point of choice now? Where do you want it to be?
For most companies, you’d like your point of choice to occur well before the moment they need your product. Using the HVAC example, wouldn’t it be better if the customer already had you and your service in mind before their A/C quit working? This is the essence of business social networking.
How does it work?
To the average person, HVAC is only so interesting. When I’m at a party and a guy starts talking to me about the last furnace he installed, it’s more than likely that I’m going to plot my escape. But then again, I’m the average person. The great thing about the world is that on any subject, you can find people who are interested in it. Think of it this way; if the party is big enough and you talk to enough people, you’ll eventually find someone with an interest in air ducts. If the party is really big, you’ll find dozens of people. These are your champions and you could talk with them all night long.
Facebook is a really, really big party.
With Facebook, it’s easy for the friends of your champions to see what your champions are doing. Put another way, I don’t have any interest whatsoever in furnaces but I’m friends with someone who installs air ducts. On Facebook, I can see his conversation with you. You and I have no connection except through your champion, my air duct buddy. Since the median Facebook user has about 126 friends, you may have just 12 champions, but your interaction with them can be seen by 1,512 people. And here’s one more thing to think about: who would you rather get your HVAC solutions from? Someone you found randomly in the Yellow Pages or someone whom your geeky friend who knows air ducts recommends?
I probably know an expert
What Facebook and most other social networks do so well, is they help word-of-mouth. I don’t have to know everything about everything, but among my 126 friends, I probably have an expert I can ask.
There’s something else to think about when you start imagining the reach of your social network. You’ve probably heard of the John Guare movie, Six Degrees of Separation. It’s based on the idea that we are all connected to each other by no more than six hops: I know you, you know Sally, Sally knows John, John knows Jill, Jill knows Tom, Tom knows Jim and Jim knows the President.
This idea was put to the test by scientists on Facebook. In the article Anatomy of Facebook, they reported that actually six degrees were too many. In fact, 92% of people on Facebook are connected by just four degrees of separation. So in other words, you may feel like your social network is small, but your reach potential is everyone. (Read that again. Never before has a marketing medium had that sort of reach.)
It’s free, but it’s not cheap
Because Facebook and most of the other social media sites are free, the misperception is that it’s easy and doesn’t cost anything. Social networking is time-consuming. You won’t want to stop at just 12 followers; and the ones you have, you’ll need to keep engaged. If you’re going to be successful, you need to post something every day.
How do you post something every day about HVAC? The first thing to remember is that your followers are mostly champions. They are people who are really interested in your product or service. It’s ok to get geeky with these people. If you want to write about how the solenoid receptors are integrally molded into the casing, go ahead!
The posts that do the best are helpful
You surely could share lots of tips about your business, product or service offering. Write about a great customer interaction. Write about how you are placing an ad in the newspaper. Don’t be afraid though to write about other things that interest you. If your business is a restaurant, write about a wine you found, post a recipe, or just a picture of tonight’s dinner special.
Keeping up with your posts is tricky. If I’m doing my job, you hopefully feel inspired after reading this article. Down the road however, your enthusiasm is bound to wane. There are online tools that allow you to schedule your posts in advance. We use Sprout Social. You won’t even have to have your computer turned on to post. We also recommend that when you are feeling jazzed about this, it’s a good time to write a bunch of posts and save them for rainy day. You’ll inevitably feel uninspired one day and your post library will save you.
It’s not just Facebook
So maybe Facebook isn’t right for you—but that doesn’t mean that social media is wrong for you. If the only tool in your tool box is a hammer, then all of your challenges are going to look like nails.
With 1 billion users, Facebook is far and away the largest social media site. Still, it may not be right for your business. Lucky for you, there are more than 340 other tools in your toolbox. That’s how many social network sites there are (as of today). The most famous of these sites are Google+, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest and Flickr. Experiment and find the set of tools that work best for your business.
Typically, we recommend Facebook but until it’s tested, you can’t be sure it’s going to work for you. Because the barrier to entry on all of these sites is so low—most are free—it’s worth trying several.
Experience makes a difference
Whatever your business, setting up a social networking platform can be a lot of work. Testing is a lot of work. Setting realistic goals and the strategy to meet them is a challenge. And no matter which social media you choose–you still need to keep your brand positioning and message top-of-mind.
Creative Company has built websites, crafted digital roadmaps, done online branding and developed communities for longer than the term “social network” has been around. Whether you’re looking for something long-term or would just like to get a program established so you can take it over later, we can help. Give us a call, Like us on Facebook or check out our website for details. We would love to work with you and help make sense out of your digital roadmap.
- Download our new Social Media Game Plan! It’s full of how-to-tips on how to get the most out of your social media program.
- We’ve posted many articles over the years here about Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.