Right now, everybody wants to jump on the Facebook marketing bandwagon. After all (goes conventional thinking), if hundreds of millions of people use Facebook it must be a viable marketing tool for me – right?
It ain’t necessarily so.
Facebook is a social medium. It’s designed from the ground up to facilitate gossip. Which part of your business is gossip-worthy?
Are you likely to get on Facebook and tell all your friends about something you saw on Plumber’s business-orientated fan page?
“Ah,” you say (because you dare to debate the master), “if I was interested in knowing more about plumbing, and I saw something useful, then yes I would tell my network of plumbing fans all about it.”
“Aha!” I reply with a wry ‘gotcha’ grin. “How is sharing trade secrets useful to the plumber? You’re not actually in the plumber’s target market. You and your cadre of plumbing groupies are enthusiasts who don’t need to employ Joe. You’re merely benefiting from his generosity.”
The plain fact is all this free advice isn’t helping the business that’s sharing it. I write articles on this (and many other) blogs because I like writing. I didn’t write this article because I thought it would bring me business.
For the most part, the people who utilise this blog are free-loaders (sorry folks). They’re don’t constitute a viable target market for my services. The same is true of the vast majority of Facebook groups and fan pages.
My viable clients have absolutely zero interest in these articles. At best, a person in my target market may use these articles to assess my credibility. And even then, I have to provide him/her with the link. S.he is not otherwise interested in my thoughts about the viability of Facebook, and will never send the URL of this page to his/her social network.
For a conventional business-to-business company, Facebook will almost never generate business directly. It may generate a referral to somebody who is interested, but even then it’s hit and miss. And frankly, there are better social media tools for referral marketing.
Where Facebook comes into its own is for businesses that generate gossip-worthy content. That is, content the target market wishes to share with it’s personal network because it’s fun, or it delivers social benefits.
This type of business is almost always business-to-consumer. It must have some aspect that makes it inherently useful as a tool for social advancement. This is why a celebrity magazine’s Facebook group will do well as contributor to the companies revenue. And why Joe’s Plumbing and Heating Facebook group will not.
NOTE: I’m not saying Facebook isn’t worth your consideration. I’m merely trying to point out the difference between something people will gossip about, and something they won’t.
It’s also worth recognising the difference between a gossip-worthy item that has legs, and one that doesn’t.
Joe’s Plumbing may break the news that a commonly installed toilet can spontaneously explode. This is gossip-worthy, but a story of the moment. Unless Joe is constantly discovering common household items that spontaneously explode he won’t have much luck generating viral interest out there in Facebook land.
On the other hand, Sally’s Celebrity Shame Report will have no shortage of embarrassing celebrity tid-bits to share. Her site is assured of an endless supply of gossip-worthy exposes.
What’s more, Sally’s Facebook Group has another set of legs. It will be seen as a valuable contributor towards social advancement within specific groups. A person whose friends enjoy laughing at all the latest celebrity gafs will gain kudos within his/her social group by being the source of such stories. That is the value of Sally’s site to its target market.
There is a crucial difference between Joe’s businesses and the one run by Sally. That difference is the key to understanding whether or not Facebook is a viable tool for your own business. Joe should forget Facebook, and look towards ecademy if his purpose is making money. In fact, I think Joe would do even better if he went offline and decided to join BNI instead.