Facebook has been linked with many negative psychological effects, such as depression, and it has also led to relationship problems. Furthermore, Norwegian researchers have even classified Facebook as an addiction, even coming up with a scale to determine your addiction level for the social networking site.
While these are all personal problems, Nellie Alkalp, chief executive of Corpnet.com, an online legal document filing service, points out that too much Facebook can be harmful to businesses as well, as shown in the following list:
1. Employee productivity is reduced
The first concern that employers had when Facebook and other social networking sites came around was that employees might spend too much time on these sites, reducing the amount of time that they use for doing actual work in the office.
However, even if Facebook is used for business, it can still drain away resources. Using Facebook for business takes lots of commitment; it involves mediating social media discussions, managing feedback responses and others.
Before businesses think about using Facebook for business, they should have well-defined goals, as the time and resources used for this social media effort could have been used in other business functions, such as in sales, customer service and marketing. Otherwise, businesses will just be wasting their time.
2. Businesses might be discouraged when looking at big companies' Facebook presence
According to a study conducted by researchers from the University of Michigan, using Facebook leads to decreasing overall life satisfaction and moment-to-moment happiness among college-aged adults. A Facebook user sees a lot of posts from his or her friends, and some of these posts might lead that user to believe that his or her life is less rich and full compared to the lives of others.
Small businesses might feel discouraged when they measure up to the Facebook campaigns of huge brands such as Pepsi, Starbucks, Virgin Atlantic, Pampers, and others. This stress might lead some businesses to spend lots and lots of time on Facebook just to be competitive, instead of effectively managing their time based on their top priorities.
Another negative consequence is that businesses might end up concentrating on getting as many fans as they can through whatever means necessary, which is not really among the right aspects of Facebook that businesses need to focus on. Having many fans won't be as useful if the fans aren't engaging with your Facebook page.
3. Facebook success is hard to gauge
Businesses want to measure their success when it comes to using Facebook, and for some, the easiest way to determine success is by looking at the number of likes and fans.
However, these are not the only numbers that matter. Having lots of likes can easily be obtained and over time businesses have developed strategies to do just that. For example, businesses can offer discounts and other prizes to Facebook users to swap likes from them. Users can easily like store pages without actually intending to purchase there; you only like a certain business page, for example, because of the lottery it is offering.
Indeed, likes are a poor sign of positive consumer engagement. What a business needs to do to gauge its Facebook campaign's effectiveness is to find a way to measure how valuable its fans are. It is important to know whether your Facebook page is effectively helping your business generate revenue or not, so that efforts and resources aren't wasted.
4. Sales do not come directly from the buzz and engagement created from Facebook
According to a study conducted by Forrested in 2012, wherein 77,000 online transactions were investigated within two weeks, less than one percent of these transactions could be tracked to social media. In contrast, 30 percent of these come from email, while 40 percent come from paid or organic search.
Another evidence that direct sales is not one of Facebook's strengths: In the fourth quarter of 2011, 63 percent among U.S. retailers had checkouts on Facebook (things such as "add to cart" and "buy now" buttons that appear all over the site's apps and news feeds), but that number has reduced to 6 percent during the fourth quarter of 2012.
Facebook is best used to develop relationships with people, with some of them becoming your loyal fans and customers. But it is also important for small businesses to capitalize their resources towards having direct links to sales.
5. There is a deeper connection in having personal, one-to-one conversations
Facebook makes conversations with people so much easier, wherever they may be around the world. But there's no denying the fact when persons converse in person, the connection is deeper and there are more ideas exchanged and in more detail.
As such, businesses should not make the mistake of thinking that the only customer communication that businesses need is engagement through social media.