social media

How effective is facebook for small business?

facebook Slogan : “facebook is a social utility that connects you with the people around you”

We all know what facebook is and what its for. We love connecting with our friends and frenemies to see the gossip and stories of our lives. We connect with one another in unparalleled ways and can monitor the activities of loved ones without actually having to pick up the phone. I love facebook and appreciate its effectiveness daily, but the real question I’m asking is how effective if facebook for Small Business?

My short answer: facebook is not very effective in the SMB space. The inherent setup of the website is geared toward connecting friends with one another, not connecting people with business. There are anomalies and I believe that some businesses can strive and succeed by utilizing the facebook platform, but I am no longer big on the idea of connecting with businesses and blatantly accepting their advertisements in my feeds.

The main problem is that when people are on facebook, they dont want to be bombarded with updates from X number of businesses they became fans of oh a whim. As I said, there are exceptions – Companies can incorporate Value prop’s including coupons and discounts to entice followers and I spoke about this in great detail in 2009. Social Media and the value prop. The idea sounds great. Offer value to your followers to continue to advertise to them. The main problem with that is that even with the value add, I know personally I am not going to follow car wash X for a service I am not going to utilize on a regular basis. I’ll wait until a receive a traditional coupon or when I need to utilize the service I will go and negotiate the same sales price I received last time. I dont think companies like this can succeed on platforms like facebook.

Another issue with using facebook for a small business is what i’ll call the “friend effect.” I have a friend that has a small business and they are moderately successful in this venture. I am wholeheartedly happy for this person and I am glad that they are loving their new venture. Unfortunately, this friend heard about the social media craze and how facebook can be effective for their business. The hastily created their brand new facebook fan page and invited all their friends become fans of said business. This person then began spamming the crap out of their new business facebook profile and just annoyed their friends. I know for a fact I wasn’t alone in this irritation as we had mutual acquaintances that shared my frustration. If you are going to make the jump into social media with your SMB and add all your friends as fans, at least spare them the spam of having to 20 wall posts a day promoting your niche website that nobody is going to use on a regular basis.

My next post will focus on the types of businesses I think can find success on facebook and if I am feeling it, I will post an SMB etiquette guide to insure that you dont piss off your followers and fans.

Social Media Fail. – You NEED value added

It is no surprise that social media is the future of online connectivity and advertising.  Businesses are trying to connect with customers and potential customers in unparalleled ways.  Right now, companies are jumping on the Facebook, Twiiter, Yelp, bandwagon in attempts to increase exposure and retention.  Recently, a colleague of mine saw a great ad at a local carwash encouraging customers to become fans of this company on facebook. The ad is actually a great ad.  It encourages customers to mobilize and connect with the company via facebook.  There is just one huge problem – why would a customer want to become a fan of this company?

In order to maximize this ad, the advertiser should have had some sort of value proposition.  It doesn’t really matter what it is.  It could be a 20% off coupon or even some text saying monthly specials for facebook fans.  The point is, Customers need a reason to connect with the business.  Why would a customer waste their time to go home and become a fan of a company with no benefit for themselves?  I know I wouldn’t.  But for a promise of a discount, monthly specials, or some sort of other deal, I would be more likely to investigate this further. In the future, this company should have a value prop in their social media efforts.  They will see greater results. Guaranteed.