For the past few years I have been busy telling anyone that asked (in the B2B and professional services space) that social media probably was not going to get them where they wanted to go. My suggestion was (and in fact still is, subject to my thoughts below) to focus on other areas, for example regular information and articles posted to a website or blog and email marketing, plus good old fashioned printed material and direct marketing.
I’m changing my tune on this one, and I’ll tell you why. In a nutshell – Facebook is turning into the new Google. When Google first launched its AdWords program, I was running a small website which made money from advertising, and we put Google AdWords blocks on to the site to generate revenue. For a while it made OK money, but then dropped off considerably. This was partially to do with the popularity of AdWords amongst advertisers, which then forced the price per click up considerably. You can still use AdWords effectively now, but it is now a lot more expensive than it used to be.
As you may know, Facebook has over the past 6-12 months changed the way it works. It used to be the case that your Facebook posts would appear on the timelines of all those people who had liked your page. Now you’ll be lucky if 10% of your ‘likes’ get your news in their timelines. Much like Google, Facebook has an algorithm that determines what appears where, but the days of getting in front of all your likes every time you post are long gone. Here’s the bad news – if you want all your likes to get your updates, you have to pay Facebook. The good news? It’s actually very affordable.
The other thing Facebook allows you to do is geodemographic targeting. Since it has a huge amount of personal information on the likes and dislikes, interests, jobs and physical locations of its users, it is straightforward to describe your target audience and have your ads appear only in their timelines. This is also pretty affordable.
On one Facebook site we run, we had around 270 likes that had come organically over about eight to nine months. We trialled Facebook ads and promoted posts, spending under $100, and within a week likes had trebled, to over 700. Since then we have continued to invest small sums and continue to grow likes, although not as fast as that first boost. The other thing we have done is import our email lists (fully opted-in of course) into Facebook, which then sent an email – from Facebook – to all of our email contacts, inviting them to like us on Facebook. This resulted in likes for the page increasing by about 5% (representing ~5% of our email database).
Of course, a key point here is that Facebook likes alone do not equate to revenue. But they are an engaged group who have effectively given you their permission to market to them. It’s then up to you to encourage them to engage more, for example by joining your email list.
Now that Facebook has come of age, there is another siginficant advantage to increasing your page likes. People now judge your credibility and authority based on the number of likes you have. If you are on Facebook, and this number does not equate with your other online, or offline presence, it will send the wrong message. Better to have no Facebook presence at all than have a page with three posts and seven likes. Especially if you are an established brand.
PS Bateson Publicity has a Facebook page, but since we haven’t focused on it, we don’t promote it anywhere on our website or in other communications. You can visit it by clicking on the Facebook image above. Feel free to ‘like’ us!
David Bateson on Google+