It seems that everyone is talking about sites like Facebook, Twitter and other forms of social media. Many businesses and organizations have begun using these tools to market their business and stay in touch with customers.
What makes social media so popular is that it is relatively simple to use. The technology allows people without a lot of technical knowledge to update information and send messages quickly and frequently.
Another big appeal for many people is the cost. It is free to setup a Facebook page for your business so business-owners often think they can avoid incurring any cost to have an online presence.
While social media can be a helpful tool in your online marketing toolbox, it shouldn’t be considered the only method you use, nor should a Facebook page replace your regular website. Why?
1. Not everyone uses social media. You are missing a significant portion of your current and potential audience if you assume that everyone interested in your product or service is in your social media audience. While many people have a FB site to keep in touch with friends and family, it can be tricky to start mixing business with your personal life. It is effective to have people like your page and it can be a great tool to quickly let customers know about specials, but it is important to make sure that you are also using it to build relationships. Don’t limit your posts to promotional content, instead of legitimate comments. You risk giving the impression of being ‘a salesman at a family reunion.’ Participate in conversations with others and use the medium to create and enhance relationships.
2. Search engines won’t index the post content of social media sites. So someone doing a search for your business might see the link to your main Facebook page, but the user will have to click through to see any content or other details. You may not think this is a problem, until you realize that if someone is searching from an office computer or similar location that blocks social media sites, they won’t be able to get any information about your business if all you have is a FB site.
3. You don’t have access to the content you’ve created. Because all your content is hosting on FB’s servers, if they decides they want to change how posts are displayed, your followers may not be seeing all the posts you’re creating. I’ve personally experienced this with a couple local businesses that I like and follow. Their posts would be displayed in my newsfeed a few times when I initially liked them, but then nothing more would show up and I would need to manually go to their FB page to see what was new or I would miss out on daily updates and specials.
4. You are limited in what you can include. FB is great for a brief intro to your business with contact information and showcasing photos, but more interactive elements like online forms, shopping, descriptions of products and services, etc. aren’t easy to implement on FB and they are an integral part of the online experience for the many users who want to conduct business with you online.
Maximize your online presence by announcing special offers and other timely information for your Facebook audience (similar to a preferred customer list), but make sure you don’t neglect the rest of your customer base by limiting all your online customer contact to a site like Facebook.