In Jeff Bullas' highly popular LinkedIn article "Why You Should Forget Facebook," he asked: "Are you chasing likes for your brand page? Paying for fans?" He then noted, "Maybe it’s time to stop."
I agree with Jeff when it comes to buying likes. After all, many businesses purchased likes in their early days on Facebook (mine included), often for appearances sake as much as anything.
These Page likes came through advertising and often somewhat sneaky tactics. The fans who had liked our Page were often not really potential customers, either because they lived far outside our market area, like another country, or for a variety of other reasons. It looked good on our Page to have the inflated like numbers, but it had little impact on our business or the success of our Facebook Page.
Of course, many wiser Page owners also advertised to a targeted group of consumers to get their Page liked. Overall, I think this group was in the minority. But this is really the only strategy that makes sense.
But purchasing likes for your business Page is very different from paying to market your best content to a widely or narrowly targeted group of consumers. And there lies the difference.
If we are willing to pay for people to LIKE our Page, often amounting to hundreds or thousands of dollars over time, and often to groups that have no potential of being our clients. Why is paying to REACH targeted groups of fans and consumers in their news feed, with our best content, such a hard pill to swallow? Especially when it too can grow our fan base, albeit slower.
Facebook is a business, not a charity. (See my post on Paying for Facebook for more on this topic.)
With more than 1.25 billion monthly active users (MAU) worldwide and 1 billion (MAU) on mobile, Facebook is leading the way among the big social networks in making it more difficult for businesses to reach those they are already connected to, without paying. True. And I find this as frustrating as the next person. But I also realize Facebook is a business, not a charity.
A recent article in Examiner.com put it this way, "Facebook statistics show organic reach for your Business Page is dropping like a bowling ball off a high-rise.” Reach has dropped from about 16% in 2012 to 6% in 2014.
For some businesses, having to pay for Facebook means that it is no longer the best place for them to spend their time and money. If that's the case, they probably shouldn't have been there in the first place.
However, for many businesses Facebook IS still the premier social network for their brand. For these businesses, paying Facebook to reach their existing fans and/or those who are not yet fans is a good business decision that can help build their brand and online reputation, and drive business to their website. And it doesn't need to be expensive.
For instance, Facebook offers huge opportunities to real estate agents - mostly unrealized - to build their reputation as professional, knowledgeable and successful. Thus making them more attractive to those looking to buy or sell their home. It can be a great place for realtors to share new listings and helpful tips for home buyers and sellers. That is, if they get into the news feed of their fans!
A client who is a realtor in a large city spends between $5 and $15 to promote each of her new listings on Facebook. Her fan base is small (250) but she targets beyond this base to anyone in her city who is female and falls within a certain age bracket.
Her results from spending $5 to promote a new listing for 48 hours were:
In a similar scenario, but spending $15 to promote a new listing for 24 hours, her results were:
The price of getting broader exposure for her listings and her name was relatively cheap, considering the exposure and the action viewers took.
For many smaller business owners, an investment of $30 to $100 a month can make a huge difference in getting their brand in front of consumers and having an impact, if they're sharing good content.
Whether Facebook is a good fit for your business or not depends on various factors. Are those you hope to reach active on Facebook? Do the products and services you sell fit with the audience that is on Facebook?
Usually only a small percentage of those viewing a post will actually comment on, share or like your content, even if it is great content! That doesn’t mean it isn’t having an impact. Just showing up in the news feed of your fans helps build brand name recognition.
What determines whether that recognition is good or not is the quality of the content you are sharing, in the eyes of the viewer.
The Social Media Examiner article 10 Big Brand Facebook Tactics Any Business Can Use offers some good ideas on what to post and how to make it engaging.
It's easy to promote posts from your Facebook business Page. Just click the 'Boost Post' button that appears when you are entering content to share. Then select your budget, targeting options and the duration of the promotion. This is a good way to 'test the waters' with your best content. Content consumers will find interesting, helpful, informative, inspirational, etc.
When posting on Facebook, remember that most people are there to connect with family and friends, not brands. Some brands are a natural fit for Facebook, while others are not but can still do well. It all depends on who you are hoping to reach, the quality of the content you are sharing and whether you are willing to pay to get your posts and brand in front of those you hope to reach.