Trends - in the real world and online
I was taught that a business trend, such as an upturn or downturn in business, could only be measured after analyzing the results of three full financial quarters. If your business is seasonal, only a year-to-date assessment could be measured, such as a business that sells kosher-for-Passover goods could only be measured against the previous year’s Passover sales.
There is a tendency, especially among small business owners, to use social media, particularly Facebook, as a yardstick to measure the success of their businesses via the number of Likes and Shares their posts receive. Taking this logic to its logical conclusion, the more Likes/Shares any one particular post or series of posts receive, the more successful the business in real business terms. This is simply not true.
Likes, Shares and Paid advertising - the real story
This belief is further complicated by the fact that Facebook allows everyone to post just about anything within the Facebook world for free and the response, in the form of Likes and Shares by other Facebook users, is nearly immediate and measurable to a certain extent. This immediacy of data gives the impression that the readers of the post are, by the nature of their Likes and Shares, actual or minutes-away-from-being actual clients of the business.
Nothing can be further from the truth. Likes and Shares are, in most cases, simply acts of community and support and like talk – are cheap. It costs nothing to Like and Share a business' post, while buying a product or service costs real money in the real world.
Facebook aids and abets this way of thinking, by showing the business owner, in real-time, how many views and actions any given post has generated. This in turn creates a desire in business owners to carry out further Facebook actions, including:
1) improve their Facebook views numbers and achieve even wider exposure through additional posting, which can be a positive thing, and
2) invest in paid Facebook advertising, due to an erroneous assumption that paid advertising provides better or deeper exposure. This paid advertising takes the form of post promotions, paid ads and the like. There is no real proof of the effectiveness and ROI of paid Facebook advertising and I believe, that for the majority of small businesses, Facebook ads are not a valuable or cost-effective marketing tool.
The devil behind Facebook - algorithms
An issue not always understood, or even considered by many small business owners, is the fact that Facebook creates algorithms that determine what posts are displayed on people’s NewsFeeds, the order in which people will see these posts on their NewsFeeds and so much more.
Why is this important to understand? Facebook creates and manages its own environment; nothing in Facebook happens naturally or out of happenstance, this includes how posts 'react'. How? Facebook not only has information on you, your connections, your posts and obviously on the kind of posts you have Liked and Shared, they even have information on what posts caused you to slow down while scrolling through your NewsFeed. All this information is used to control what you see in your NewsFeed. As an example of this, you may have noticed that many times, posts on your NewsFeeds are not displayed in a strictly chronological order, this means the posts have been prioritized by Facebook in an order based on your previous interactions with these kinds of posts and/or the people who posted them. Only Facebook controls what every one of us views in the pages of Facebook. Facebook is in control, not the people who post on Facebook.
Don't forget - Facebook is a business
Why do they do this? The reason is simple, Facebook is a business and knowing what posts interest you and having the technological ability to populate your NewsFeed with these kinds of posts will a) keep you coming back to Facebook and b) keep you in Facebook as long as possible. Why? Facebook is constantly looking for ways to generate more money from your "consumption" of their free service; whether you buy a Facebook service yourself or someone else will do so on the strength of the numbers of viewers, like yourself, who show interest in their posts.
In addition, keep in mind that What Facebook Giveth – Facebook Can (and will) Taketh Away. A Facebook feature you loved can be modified or removed completely, new features are constantly being rolled out in specific areas of the world and rolled back or never found to begin with in other places. As a business owner you cannot and should not depend on Facebook or any one source of social media for all your marketing needs.
What Facebook ISN'T and what it IS
So what does this mean for you as a small business owner? Don't give-up on Facebook marketing, but do not use it as a tool to measure the success of your business. Use it, as I believe it should be used, as a tool for exposure to the widest possible audience than nearly any other form of marketing. Facebook is not a tool for up-front and personal marketing or customized-content for a specific audience that could better be suited to email blasts and posts on forums, but rather the place to enable large numbers of Facebook users to discover you and your business on a regular basis. Facebook is the starting point to build familiarity with you and your product or service, it is not the end-all of all your marketing efforts.
Think of Facebook as the neon sign that would hang above your store if you had a brick and mortar business. The sign is always there, even when your store is closed and passersby will always see your sign, even if your display window is dark. And so in Facebook, unless your business page is removed, it will always be there (so long as Facebook will survive) for people to find you and hopefully follow and read your posts and if you are lucky - to become your customer.
Do you want to open yourself to a more successful business? Are you lost in the social media jungle? Let me help you re-energize your business and rediscover your passion in your profession. We’ll work together to improve your online exposure and find the perfect target markets for your business.
Contact me today to schedule a free introductory meeting. Yochi Eisner | 052-3413249