Facebook is Bad for Business

Be very careful of Facebook. It can be a real time suck and, what’s worse, it can really mess up your marketing.

What?

A blog post warning you against the dangers of Facebook ?

You bet!

So here’s why you should be careful of Planet Facebook.

Don’t Jump Off the Cliff

If you Google “small business marketing strategy” it won’t be long before you find yourself on a blog advising you to explore how Facebook can benefit your business. And chances are that this advice will be so convincing you’ll go out and start a page to compliment your business site, your blog, your Twitter presence (if you have one!)and any other bright shiny objects out there that could help you market your business online.

You’ll spend a bit of time choosing a great picture for your Timeline. You’ll build your profile, encourage people to ‘Like’ you and the you’ll spend a bit more time adding the Facebook ‘Like’ widget to your website to get even more Likes. Each day you’ll spend a few minutes here, a few minutes there trying to grow your Likes, trying to get people engaged and involved. And after a while, hey presto, you might even have a stack of new friends who like your business page.

But Here’s the Rub

There’s a reason I don’t have a Facebook Page widget on this site anymore.

It’s because it didn’t bring me any business. At all.

Sure, it was nice having some “friends” and getting new Likes. And I enjoyed the bits of conversation that took place, the banter of it all.

Touble was, no matter how much effort I put into it, it wasn’t impacting the bottom line.

Everything Has a Time and Place

As someone that runs Facebook accounts for clients I want to be clear here: Facebook can be incredibly important for a business; however, for someone else’s business, it can be an utter waste of time.

Without Data You’re Lost

This is why you need to work out relatively quickly exactly whether Facebook is good for your business or not.

If you’re actively trying to be on Facebook as a marketing tactic, do you know how many visitors Facebook sends to your website every month ? And how many of those complete your sales funnel? Or disappear after glancing around for a few seconds, never to return?

No matter how much you enjoy building a Facebook Page for your business, it can be bad for your business if it’s not impacting the bottom line: sales.

Forget the Guilt

For the first couple of weeks after I killed the Jontus Media FB Page I felt the odd pang of guilt: Maybe I hadn’t given it enough of a go, I wondered. Perhaps it would have delivered more if I’d stuck with it, I thought.

Instead I put the time into something much more beneficial; improving my podcast, which does put money in my pocket.

Data is King

So by all means, explore what Facebook (or any social media channel) can do for you; but make sure you’re collecting enough data to assess whether it’s of positive impact.

It’s important, however, not to equate Likes or social media Friends with success unless they really benefit your business.

Sure, it can take months to gather useful data, but make sure you have the metrics in place as soon as possible. Just today I was looking at a site that hadn’t set up enough tracking to measure the success of their digital sales funnel.

So remember, successfully tracking your data and, say, assessing what’s working and what’s not each quarter, you can put your energies into the things that really work for you.

What About You?

Are you afraid to kick your business Facebook Page into touch ? Or just don’t know whether it’s working or not ?

  • http://www.flybluekite.com Laura Click

    Good one, Jon. I think this applies to any social network, actually. It’s important for businesses to test out different options to find the approach that works best for them.

    The problem is that most businesses don’t put in enough effort to see if it was truly effective or, as you pointed out, they don’t measure their efforts to see what worked. I think the other problem is that businesses are so obsessed with “shiny object syndrome” and just want to have social icons on their site.  So, even if Facebook (or any other network) isn’t working, they’re afraid to ditch it because they don’t want to seem irrelevant or not “with it.”

    Test. Tweak. Measure. Decide. Without that, you’re just wasting time.

    • http://www.jontusmedia.com/ Jon Buscall

      Thanks Laura. Shiny objects. Exactly. It’s risky to be a social media magpie.
      With the latest incarnation of Google Analytics, and particular the social media feature, it’s getting easier for businesses to track the success of social media sites. But it’s up to people like us to preach “measurement” and demonstrate to customers just how important it is.

  • http://twitter.com/suddenlyjamie Jamie Wallace

    There is no one “right” way to reach an audience. The number of variables n play is not infinite, but it is pretty staggering. What works for one brand might be a game killer for another. 

    The trouble is, that we often get caught up in a game of keeping up with the Joneses. We feel obligated to engage in every marketing tactic out there so that we can check them off some nonexistent list. 

    Silly. 

    I love blogging. I’m a writer, so to have a stage on which to share my ideas and (on a good day) engage in conversations with readers and friends is a dream come true. That doesn’t mean I recommend blogging for all my clients. For some people it’s just not a fit. Maybe they don’t like to write. Maybe their audience doesn’t read. It’s the same with social networks. You have to look at the reality of a situation before you come up with a plan. And then – as Laura points out – “Test. Tweak. Measure. Decide.” … rinse and repeat. 
    :)

    • http://www.jontusmedia.com/ Jon Buscall

      Makes sense to me! I think the point you make about keeping up with the Jones is a very good one. I often come across clients who want to jump onto a platform like Facebook “because it’s hot right now” without having even considered what it could bring to their marketing.

  • http://twitter.com/neicolec Neicole Crepeau

    I just saw this post, Jon. I’m so glad you wrote it. I actually never created an FB page for my business, because it just didn’t seem like a good fit. Yet, every business seems to think they need one, now. It doesn’t always make sense. I hope the social pressure stops and businesses feel able to choose the platforms that really make sense for them.

    • http://www.jontusmedia.com/ Jon Buscall

      Thanks Neicole! I think I’ve just grown incredibly frustrated with so many businesses struggling to understand how to use FB when really they should be putting their energies (and money!) elsewhere.

      Jon Buscall
      jon@jontusmedia.com
      tel: +46 76 863 72 85
      twitter: twitter.com/jonbuscall
      http://www.jontusmedia.com

    • jennwhinnem

      I’m with you, Neicole. I was feeling frustrated by Facebook myself (where were the likes, the comments? yes I cared about those, don’t judge me) until I noticed that Facebook was one of our top referrers to content on our website. Lurkers!!

      Jon, I appreciate you asking the tough questions (and helping others to do so for themselves).

      • http://www.jontusmedia.com/ Jon Buscall

        Thanks Jenn. I notice this too with client sites that it’s still sending traffic. But there’s less engagement on FB and I wonder if the traffic will start to dry up too. I’m just not seeing the same enthusiasm for the platform amongst the business community.
        It’s also a case of “results matter”. If you’ve got limited resources you should not necessarily spend your time putting all your energy in getting FB to work for you. Blogs and email marketing are still incredibly important.