Beyond Facebook: How Reputation Management Can Pay Off More than Social Media Marketing
In the last few years, we have all heard about the rise of social media and how its influence is likely to change the overall landscape of online marketing. There are plenty of pitches offering local businesses the moon and stars through the management of social media channels, specifically Facebook and Twitter.
As social media has penetrated the marketplace, there has been significant increase in presence, but for the majority of businesses it is quite difficult to directly correlate engagement through these platforms with actual revenue or business growth. Oftentimes, social channels end up as just one more arm of customer service, creating a public forum for escalations that force businesses into a more responsive environment, to reduce the potential of situations getting out of hand by becoming viral.
If you have been investing time, energy, and resources in social media channels at the expense or total neglect of your reputation management, then we want to spend a little time helping you redirect your strategy toward more profitable and more measurable channels of engagement.
Facebook's Growing Fan Base and Shrinking Reach
Chances are you have worked hard to foster engagement and grow your Facebook fan page, under the assumption that you would have open access to communicate with your fans. Unfortunately, while this remained true for a while, Facebook implemented an algorithm designed to force businesses to pay for advertisement, even when attempting to exclusively reach their fans.
On a good day, businesses are likely to reach from 1 percent to 10 percent of their total fans, even when posting something that is relevant to their followers. According to Facebook, this was done in an effort to improve user experience by removing clutter from already highly competitive feeds. According to Facebook, "pages that post promotional creative should expect their organic distribution to fall significantly over time." As we all know, out of sight, out of mind. Without doing boosted or paid posts on a regular basis, chances are your Facebook profile will mainly become a "go-to" place for customer service concerns, reducing the overall value as an accessible marketing channel for small businesses.
Facebook Is Not Keyword-Responsive in Search
When conducting a search for your business using search engines like Google or Yahoo, you will note that most of the content loaded by you or your customers is highly unlikely to appear in search. In contrast, the majority of customer reviews loaded in popular review sites such as Yelp are indexed quite often, and commonly appear as part of the results when someone is conducting a Web search that includes keyword strings specifically mentioned in a review.
It is not uncommon for potential shoppers to find your review site profile when Googling for terms such as "best lasagna in [insert city name]" if one of your reviews contains those keywords. If your goal is to be found, then building content in Facebook only gives you a fraction of the benefits you are likely to obtain from growing your content in review sites.
Taking into account that all of us have limited marketing resources, time and effort are best invested in interactive platforms likely to perform better on online searches.
Facebook Does Not Give Potential Customers a Linear Narrative
When a consumer is in the process of researching a service or company, there is nothing more helpful than a linear narrative. In social sites like Facebook or Twitter, the content moves so fast and is so disparate in nature that getting a narrative that speaks of quality and expectations is virtually impossible.
With the review feature available through Facebook, all other content appears to move so fast that it becomes virtually useless in aiding a potential customer through the provision of insights from his or her peers. Review sites, on the other hand, allow consumers to see a linear narrative that allows them to better understand seasonal trends, weaknesses, and strengths, helping them set clear expectations and thus have a more reliable customer experience.
Facebook Does Not Allow Potential Shoppers to Find You by Category
Unless a customer or potential customer knows you by name, chances are they will never locate your social channels. Without the ability to be found by geography, segment, and other wider categories, the value of a social site as a lead generator is greatly reduced.
Thankfully, review sites such as Yelp, Insider Pages, and Google+ have stepped up to the plate and provided consumers with category-based searches that help them connect with businesses that match their criteria, and further enhances the shopping experience by providing peer feedback, which has proven to be the most reliable way of making a purchase decision.
Facebook Does Not Facilitate Apples-to-Apples Comparisons
If you want to know who the best is in a particular category, from remodeling companies to pizza parlors, Facebook and Twitter do a poor job providing the consumer with sufficient information to make an educated decision. This is especially true for a user-initiated search.
While it is true that Facebook is more user-friendly, when it comes to a digital word-of-mouth reference, it often fails in equipping potential shoppers with the tools to compare your business with others in the same category. Through the use of directories and third-party review sites, consumers can now effectively compare you to your peers and decide who is capable of delivering the best value, based on set criteria.
Facebook Boosts Have a One-Time Impact That Is Not Sustainable
Even if you were to point your marketing dollars into Facebook boosts, it is important that you understand that each boost does not aggregate into better visibility. Instead, it is a one-time shot to reach your followers with a message. In direct comparison, every dollar you invest in reputation management builds upon itself, increasing your reach, popularity, and visibility. Engaging in efforts to dominate in review sites is a bet that more often than not will pay you back handsomely. If you must pick between one or the other, then pointing your budget toward review and reputation management may just be the smartest move you can make.
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