Facebook is not a website, it’s a social media platform
About 9 years ago I joined Facebook. My reasons were two fold: I wanted to communicate with my family and friends, and I thought it would be good for business. To reach out to other like minded people outside of my normal, very small, bubble. It was fabulous. I have spent a lot of time talking with people all over the globe, becoming great friends, sharing heartaches and joys and consider quite a few people as real friends.
But as a web developer, and a business owner, I knew that sending folks back to my website to do business was important. Facebook is linear, time and date driven, and what you post today is soon forgotten among the noise.
Facebook for all of it’s usefulness is simply a platform to be social. It’s not your website. It’s a noisy place full of distractions. Like a carnival full of barkers.
I get asked, or told, about Facebook from business owners and self-employed craftsmen. They state or assume they don’t need a website because they have a Facebook business page. I cringe every time I hear it.
Facebook is free and easy to use
What many people like about Facebook is that it’s free to use and easy to launch a business page. Many a successful startup have gone to great lengths to gain followers and customers. Because it’s free and easy to use, there’s no developer involved. No one to pay money to for setup and management. Anyone can do it.
It has tools for advertising so you can reach out to people beyond your current user base and instantly attract new potential customers. These features resonate with small businesses with tight budgets. Perfectly understandable.
But, again, it’s not a website.
Facebook is great for communication with your followers
With a ready audience, posts to pages instantly hit your followers feeds. However, with new algorithms in place, business owners are having to reach out using paid ads to reach not only new targeted markets, but the ones who’ve already liked the page.
Facebook has monetized their software. Business owners pay for ads so everyone else can use it for free. And, as much complaining that happens because of this, it’s a fair way to offer a free social platform, while still paying the bills and making improvements.
Facebook was built for communication. It allows us to stay in front of our customers, while also giving us the ability to show off new products and services.
It also capitalizes on popularity. It rewards popular posts, those with more shares, likes and comments, and gives those posts priority in the news feed. If your post seems relevant, you get your reward.
When you think about it, that’s how we communicate in real life too. The (very old) commercial for Faberge Organics Shampoo spelled it out nicely — you’ll tell two friends, and they’ll tell two friends, and so on.
Facebook controls the rules of engagement
The downside to using Facebook is the matter of control. How you communicate with your customers must follow the rules of community. If your business doesn’t fit the rules, your account — and all of it’s content — can be penalized, or worse, shut down. Your followers, or someone else, can report your content, or classify it as spam.
When a post is flagged, the first round of reports are automated. Artificial Intelligence controls the initial report. If the AI sees words or content that is in it’s database, the post is removed. You can fight this, and a human will review it, but in the meantime you’re stuck.
Depending on the human, you may get a pass or fail. Facebook leaves a lot of decision making to their employees. If that employee has a different set of beliefs, or feelings on a particular subject, the outcome may be the same as the AI review.
Facebook has no phone number or technical support line to talk with — oddly enough, to communicate with — when something like this happens. It’s their way, or the highway with almost zero discussion with you on the losing end of it.
Before you get too upset, there’s something very important you need to remember: You’re using their software for your business…for free.
Facebook owns your content
The very scary element of using Facebook for business, is that they own your content. If your business is flagged as going against the rules of the community, they can — and will — shut down your account. They are under no obligation to provide you with a backup of that content. They own the software, they own the statistics, they own the traffic. In essence, they own your online business if you put all your eggs in the Facebook basket.
As someone with ties to the shooting, training and hunting/fishing industries, I’ve seen many a good pages taken offline.
It’s devastating. It’s infuriating. It’s downright tragic.
And while there’s a lot of screaming, cussing, and fit throwing involved when it happens — they are not obligated to keep you around. You are but a small fish in a very large pond. A pond where the majority rules. A community that uses mob mentality to pick and choose the winners. If the mob doesn’t like you, you lose.
And there’s not a flipping thing you can do about it.
Facebook is not a website
Facebook is simply a tool to stay in contact with your customers. A place to quickly catch up. But the meaningful relationship is built on your home turf. Your website.
Your website is where the relationship is built. Facebook is a place to catch up. Say hi. Show what you’re up to. Like poking your head in the door for a quick chat, and then move on.
- You can’t brand yourself – it’s Facebook’s URL.
- You can’t communicate freely – it’s their rules.
- You have no one to talk with when things go wrong.
- They can shut you down, whenever they want to.
- You can only communicate a little at a time, and leave no lasting impression.
- It creates a short attention span for your customers.
- It’s difficult to create brand loyalty when there’s so many distractions.
- It’s not yours, it doesn’t tell your story.
- It’s one tool among many tools used for marketing.
Your website is the hub of your business
Remember that relationship? Your website is the place to establish customer loyalty and brand following. A place where your customer can get to know you deeply, figure out how you do business, learn more about you, and decide whether they want to champion your brand.
All roads should lead your customer back to your website. The place where you control the rules. Where the statistics are in your control and all about you. Where you can see how well (or not) your customers interact with your site, and what they deem important.
It’s less about followers, than it is about business. Real business. The kind that makes you money.
Facebook (and Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, etc) is important. But those posts need to lead your customers back to your site. Where you can control the story. It’s a tool to use for marketing and quick conversations. Not to be used as your primary point of business.
Would I be devastated if they deleted my account? I’d be pissed no doubt, but it would not disrupt my business. And that’s where you need to be. The statistics that matter are the ones being made on your website. How is THAT traffic doing? How is business at home?
Keep your focus on the most important thing. Rather than 30 posts a day on Facebook, spend an extra minute and make it a blog post on your site. Then post that to Facebook. You’ll get more mileage. You’ll get more followers. And in the end you’ll get more business. A two-fer.
Make the most of your time and assets. And leave nothing in the control of someone else. Facebook runs their business the way they want to. You need to do the same.