Why Your Company Might Not Need a Facebook Page

Wrong Tool for the Job

I recently suggested on Twitter some companies don’t need a  Facebook Page, and boy did that ruffle feathers. Twitter lit up with replies that fell into two camps: ReTweets, and disbelief.

“Wha?! Why wouldn’t a company want a Facebook Page?”

Some of those who were incredulous are social media consultants. My gut response was “What kind of social media consultant can’t fathom a company forgoing Facebook?!”

Maybe I’m crazy. Maybe every company needs a Facebook Page. But I doubt it. Here are some reasons Facebook Page isn’t right for your company:

Facebook is the Wrong Tool Based on Goals

Smart marketers begin by defining goals — strategy and tools follow. For some goals, Facebook isn’t the right best tool for the job. Pay-per-click ads, SEO, Twitter, or trade shows might achieve better results at a better price.

Can a customer community on Facebook (or elsewhere) help achieve your goals? Yes. Is it the most direct solution? Maybe, but not necessarily. For some goals it’s a great tool, but not for all goals.

Facebook is the Wrong Tool Based on Audience

Everybody and their brother is on Facebook, right? Well, no. Facebook boasts 500 million users, but that’s still just 7% of the world population. There are 5.5 billion people not using Facebook.

More pointedly, your target audience might not use Facebook — or isn’t there for business. How many Fortune 100 CEOs are on Facebook? How many VPs at Big 4 accounting firms? Do you know? And even if they’re on Facebook, is Mr. or Mrs. C-Suite there to hear about your offerings?

If I sold cam shafts to auto mechanics, I wouldn’t build a Facebook Page. Or if I ran an elevator repair company. Dollars to donuts says my customers wouldn’t be interacting with me on Facebook between Farmville sessions.

Facebook Might Vanish One Day

Sand In Hand #2You’ve heard it before: Facebook is just the latest MySpace. Or LiveJournal. Or…whatever.

Yes, Facebook is huge. It’s worth a kajillion clams. Zuckerberg is a genius. It’s woven into every aspect of our lives. Until it’s not. Until something displaces it. Until a bad investment decision. Until Zuck screws something up. Until regulators show up.

And then what? What will happen to your community? Will you have contact info for all of your “Fans?” How will you get them to connect with you on another channel? What about all that content you created exclusively for Facebook? Don’t you wish you owned your connections and content, instead of just renting them?

You Have No Content

Facebook Page: Check. Five thousand fans: Check. Engaging, relevant content…

Huh?

So you have 50…500…5,000 fans. Now what? Sure, tell them about your new coupon. And your holiday specials. And, um…Sandy in accounting winning “Employee of the Month.”

Facebook followers get tired of promotions quicker than you think. So will you. Do you really want to discount your prices forever? And when promotions lose their appeal, you’ll need compelling content to engage your customers.

Think compelling content doesn’t matter? Think again. Most fans never return to your Facebook Page, which means you have to show up in their Newsfeed to catch their attention. Facebook uses a complex formula for determining what your fans see in their Newsfeeds. Content that generates a lot of “Likes” and Comments rises to the top. If your content doesn’t inspire engagement by other Facebook users, you’ll be buried in the stream of news, likely to vanish into obscurity.

I Might Be Wrong

I’m not trying to talk you out of Facebook, or out of social media in general. On the contrary: I want you to be a more social business and reap the rewards. But I want you to spend your resources wisely, too.

Suppose I’m wrong, though. Wouldn’t be the first time. Maybe every company needs a Facebook Page. Convince me in the comments section?

  • http://twitter.com/jccarcamo Julia Carcamo

    80% of my customers not using social media. Sounds like a point for you! Thanks for the third-party endorsement.

  • http://mediaemerging.com Scott Hepburn

    LOVE that point, Julia! What type of business do you run? Would love to hear about your company, your customers, and the ways you interact with them when Facebook isn’t the best path.

    Feel free to share here in the comments — maybe we could even elaborate in a guest post or Q&A.

  • http://twitter.com/GrayMediaGabe Gabe Harris

    I work for a small B2B company that utilizes the model of quality over quantity. We are revamping our web presence all together and the question of a FB page came up. We are redoing our website and at first I felt it was absolutely necessary to create a FB page as well, after a bit of thought I began to think along the lines of several of the points you made i.e. content. It just didn’t make sense to me. Anyways, I’m glad you spelled out some great points and that I’m not the only one who has weighed out the value of a FB page.

  • http://mediaemerging.com Scott Hepburn

    I’d ask yourselves two questions, Gabe:

    * What could the Facebook accomplish for us?
    * What do we actually want to accomplish?

    How you answer those questions should give you a good sense of whether you made the right choice.

    As you’ve discovered, content plays a critical role in inbound marketing. Regardless of which tools you use (Facebook, blogs, podcasting, etc.), a content strategy is important to consider.

    Thanks for sharing your experience here!

  • Anonymous

    Excellent post. You are so right – people are quick to get Facebook page, Twitter account or YouTube channel because “everyone is doing it”. However, certain channels are better for people than others. And, it’s quite possible that social media might not be a fit at all. While social media can certainly be beneficial, for some businesses, it’s likely not the top of marketing mix.

  • http://www.inboundmarketingexperts.ca Andy Xhignesse

    What a great post Scott! Thanks for sharing. Far too often I see companies who get swept up in the buzz on social media and think they “have to be there”…ouch. Social media is a powerful tool that can help anyone do business better, I really believe that, but, and it’s a BIG BUT, like any tool, you need to learn when, how, why, what and where to use it. Oh yeah, be prepared to fail! Anyone who thinks that they will engage with social media and the initiative will become an overnight success, is misinformed or deluded. Social media is powerful…in a planned and well executed program.

    I hope you don’t mind, I’m going to post this in our news section as I think it’s very valuable perspective. Thanks again!

  • http://mediaemerging.com Scott Hepburn

    Share away, Andy — thanks for bringing my post to the attention of your team.

    You make some solid points about learning how to use social media successfully. There’s a tremendous opportunity for communication pros to lead and educate businesses on how to integrate social media into the communication mix. Training and education, more so than execution, have become a core part of my own business.

    Shoot me a link to your news section (if it’s a public thing) and I’ll pass it along via Twitter for you.

  • http://bcroke.wordpress.com Brandon Croke

    Scott, what’s crazy is that people think you’re crazy for questing the value of anything in “social media”.

    There’s a big difference between a consultant and someone who sets you up on Twitter and Facebook, but of course you already get that ;)

  • http://mediaemerging.com Scott Hepburn

    Haha! Great point, Brandon.

  • http://my-creativeteam.com/blog Harry Hoover

    Totally agree, Scott. Your audience and your goals – not the latest tactic – should dictate your marketing and social media activities. For instance, I work with a bank that markets to independent business owners. They are not on Facebook, but they are on LinkedIn. Hmmm, which social platform should they choose?

  • http://www.brianhamlett.com Brian Hamlett

    I’m just here to say “Hear Hear!”

    It’s interesting that many businesses have started to treat Facebook as another form of mass marketing (instead of the personal, targeted marketing it should be.) Get a page, get tons of likes, post stuff to make them want to buy.

    Sounds familiar… design an ad, get it in front of tons of eyes, make sure it says something that makes people want to buy.

    That hasn’t worked fantastically well in traditional times… it’s just cheaper now. Still for many it’s just as ineffective so why waste the time (which I value as more costly than the $$$ for an ad… at least with the ad my time is just spent on creating the ad… not only continually promoting.)

  • http://mediaemerging.com Scott Hepburn

    Great points re: the broadcast mentality of many FB Page publishers and the need to constantly promote your Page.

    “If you build it, they will come = FALSE” is a mantra when I speak with companies about Facebook Pages. You have to continually invest in your Page to get it to become something. How much do you have to invest? It varies. But you must invest. How much will you get back? That varies, too. But I guarantee that you won’t get something back before first investing significantly.

    So the real question: If social media is indeed important to your business (and it probably is), what should you be investing in…Facebook or some other social approach?

  • @bitflipper1

    Great article. You have swayed me to the side of caution when setting up a Facebook page. I agree with you that organizations should put more thought into social media presence. And for that matter there should be ample thought behind anything posted to the web. In certain industries like bars/restaurants a Facebook page is a necessity, even if it’s on set upa whim (although preferably after much thought). Why? Restaurant owners will inevitably provide content that interests fans by announcing food/drink specials, new menu items and events. This is one case when not having a Facebook page hurts more than having one, even if it’s thoughtless. Now if restaurants put more thought into an FB page, for example by offering fan only discounts or fan only events they will benefit that much more. It will increase relevancy and generate more fans. That’s just my two cents. I was thoroughly engaged in the Twitter discussion and I’m glad that it spawned this awesome blog post. I plan on sharing this article with my clients.

  • http://mediaemerging.com Scott Hepburn

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Matt. And, yes, please feel free to share this with clients — I hope they find it helpful.

    You raise another interesting point in the “Should we create a Facebook Page” discussion. A Facebook Page is easy to create…almost too easy. Buying a puppy easy. Feeding and nurturing your puppy…er, Facebook community…takes discipline, hard work, dedication and patience.

    Which is why I often suggest getting a plant instead of a Facebook Page.

  • http://twitter.com/g0dxilla Frank Grogan

    Hey Scott, First time visiting your site and I think you make a good point. Honestly, my company’s facebook page makes and keeps more fans when we’re not posting on it. What does THAT tell you? It tells me that people like to click LIKE but could care less past that. Facebook is for friends and family, not business. Oh yeah, and it’s likely that the vast majority of my customers are on Facebook.

  • http://mediaemerging.com Scott Hepburn

    Thanks for reading, Frank!

    I’m not sure I agree that “Facebook is for friends and family, not business.” Facebook is a very powerful tool for many businesses. is it right for your business and your goals? Hard to say without knowing more.

    Like any tool, it’s just that: a tool. The real keys to success are extraordinary producs, extraordinary service, sound strategy, and skillful execution.

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