While Facebook may provide a great way to interact with fans and market your business, it's not all sunshine and roses. Several issues have been discussed recently that business should take very seriously.
What is the biggest problem you see with Facebook as a business tool? Let us know in the comments.
Misperception About the Value of the Like
Brian Lynch makes some valid points about the Facebook "like" in that it's not always as helpful to businesses as it may seem. The main issue is the visibility aspect. "As people have started to give out Likes more freely, with minimal emotional investment, the chances of an individual Like’s visibility has drastically reduced compared to more valuable posts in a user’s timeline," he writes, later adding, "Based on our analysis of over 110,000 patron transactions that took place during a 3-month period, we found that only 1/66 Likes generated an incremental ticket sale for our customers."
"The Facebook Like is not a direct means to drive sales, as its original purpose was to gather data and share interests, and it is also used as a metric to dictate the display order of posts in the News Feed," says Lynch. "Companies remain slow to understand these facts, and still hold firm to the use of the Like as a method to monetize social media."
As mentioned in an earlier article, Facebook is reportedly working on an unfiltered News Feed, which could greatly up the visibility of Facebook likes, making them much more valuable. But even still, it may not be the default, and many users will probably continue to use a filtered version of the feed much of the time. You can refer to that article for tips on optimizing for the Facebook News Feed.
Is too much emphasis placed on the "like"?
Local Business Pages Lacking Local Fans
For local businesses, even the Facebook Page itself may not be as valuable as once thought. Sure, it's still recommended that you operate one, because it does provide numerous benefits that have been discussed time and time again - a direct line to fans, a place for customers to find information, etc. A study from Roost earlier this week, however, found that only 15% of fans on the average small business Facebook Page are actually local to the town where the business is located. If this is accurate, that's not great news for brick and mortars, though it does emphasize the need to offer e-commerce options for customers.
As Francine Hardaway of Stealthmode Blog pointed out, the findings indicate that most small business Facebook pages aren’t going to do a whole lot of good for targeted marketing. It may actually make the case for increased Facebook advertising, if the Facebook audience is who you’re trying to reach. Or more specifically, the local Facebook audience. Facebook ads have very specific targeting points.
MerchantCircle recently released survey results finding that 22% of local merchants have used Facebook ads, and that two thirds of them would use them again. Still, of the 35% of merchants who said they wouldn’t advertise with Facebook again, 69% said the ads didn’t help them acquire new customers. 35% said they were too expensive.
Are Facebook ads a good investment?
Brand-Damaging Security Messages
Something else that businesses should be aware of regarding their Facebook Pages is that their Page may be displaying messages to users that can be very harmful for their brands. Messages like this:
Turn off secure browsing?
We can't display this content while you're viewing Facebook over a secure connection (https).
Would you like to temporarily switch to a regular connection (http) to use this app?
You will have a secure connection upon your next login.
That's probably not what you want potential fans to see. Dennis Yu points this out on AllFacebook, saying, "This is what your would-be fans are seeing. You spend all this effort to send non-fans, ad-driven or organic, to your default landing page, but you’ll lose them with this mistake. Facebook is getting most users to browse the site securely — so if any item on your landing page is not secure, that’s a brand killer."
The Ban Bot
If you're a Facebook application developer, you are at the mercy of Facebook's ban bot. As we recently saw, some entire businesses were greatly impacted when Facebook's algorithm deemed their apps not to be good enough, and shut them down without warning. More on that here.
Have you ever had Facebook block one of your apps?
Netpop put out a study a couple months ago indicating that 8 in 10 social media users feel "uneasy" or "ambivalent" about sharing personal info on social media sites, and that users with privacy concerns rate social sites significantly lower in terms of level of trust about sites sharing info appropriately. This is something to consider for sites utilizing Facebook log-in, and various social plug-ins from Facebook. It’s gotten to the point where it is pretty hard to find a site that doesn’t use some kind of Facebook integration.
Do yo have any Facebook integrations on your site?
Has Facebook Peaked?
In June, we asked if Facebook has peaked. Various data points seemed to point to the conclusion that growth has slowed, and that other social sites were "eroding Facebook's dominance of social". And that was two weeks before Google announced Google+, which Facebook has already shown signs of panic over. You may recall the blocking of ads for G+ profiles. It has also been reported that Facebook's been on "lockdown" since G+ launched.
Do you think Facebook has peaked?
Recent Improvements Facebook Has Made For Businesses
You've probably already invested a significant amount of time and or money into Facebook. Don't worry. It's not all gloom and doom. For one, Facebook has proven to be an invaluable tool for plenty of businesses, and this will no doubt continue for the foreseeable future, despite the hype surrounding Google+.
Facebook has wheels in motion that may benefit your business more than what's already been available.
Again, there's that unfiltered version of the News Feed. While its "like" visibility factor may be limited, it should still be significantly better than as it stands now. They're also supposedly working on some new 'like" features that will allow users to share info with their likes, which could also help. The unfiltered feed will mean more people seeing their friends liking or sharing your content. It will mean a greater chance that more of your Facebook fans will see more of the updates you publish from your Facebook Page.
Facebook recently announced Skype-powered video calling. This could prove to be useful in business communication (although I'm not sure it stacks up to the Hangouts feature of Google+) other than the fact that Facebook simply has way more people.
Facebook has started bringing Facebook Places functionality (including check-in deals) to Facebook Pages with street addresses.
Facebook started letting Page admins send direct invites to their friends.
Facebook opened up its Ads API to application developers that prove they can provide something of value.
Speaking of developers, things seem to be getting better for them in general (since the big "ban bot" fiasco). Facebook has improved search for apps, provided developers with new insights, improved the dashboard, and made app testing easier.
Facebook has also launched a nice how-to guide for businesses to get the most out of Facebook. More on this here.
It's still recommended that you take some time to improve your Facebook Page. Take a look at the top 50 branded Facebook pages. Look at what's working for them and figure out how you can emulate good strategies in ways that make sense for your own business. Here's some things Victoria's Secret does pretty well. What do you think are the most important elements of a Facebook Page?
There are a lot of positives and negatives that go along with Facebook as a business tool/strategy. Do you think the pros outweigh the cons? Can Facebook maintain its position as the most valuable social media marketing tool? Tell us what you think.