Guest Blog: Why Facebook Isn’t Worth It for Small Businesses Anymore

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Source: Shutterstock

If you run a small business, you probably have a Facebook Page. Unless you’ve had this page before 2009 (the early days), you’re probably crazy stressed from trying to keep it up and running. What used to be a ‘great way to connect with fans of your brand and make new ones for free’ is now ‘only 10 of my 2,000 followers saw my last post, maaan, Facebook can go to hell’.

Somewhere along the way (precisely around the time of Facebook’s IPO), things went south. Now there are several reasons why Facebook just isn’t a great fit for businesses trying to grow their brands and connect with others on a tiny budget.

Your Posts are Subjected to Facebook’s Complex Algorithm

If you’ve ever wondered why you have 500 friends and like 20 pages (for example) but you only ever see posts from the same 10 people every time you log on, that’s because Facebook algorithm is doing some serious voodoo on your timeline. It uses a complex algorithm that assesses when a post was made, how popular a post is, how often you interact with the person/brand that made a post, among other factors to determine what you see.

So what does this mean for businesses? Well, if you aren’t a super popular brand, or you don’t constantly post irrelevant memes and funny stuff that have nothing to do with your business, your posts are probably only seen by the miniscule fraction of super brand advocates, which is about 1-2% of your total likes. Ouch.

You Have to Pay for Advertising

To get those posts seen by more people, you gotta advertise. While Facebook advertising is fairly inexpensive, it’s still using money some businesses simply don’t have. Additionally, for small businesses handling their own social media (which I highly recommend), figuring out ads can be quite a difficult, time-consuming task.

You Have to Create Highly Engaging Videos

Back to that algorithm. Another factor it considers is the type of post. While you can post plain text, linked, image or video posts – not all of them are created equal. Nowadays, videos uploaded directly to Facebook are getting the most traction. Facebook claims it’s because that’s what people are into, but it probably has a lot more to do with it competing with YouTube videos.

Of course, the business’ response to this would be upload more videos, right? Wrong. Ain’t nobody got the time or the money or the patience for that. The second best type of post is photos, another money/time suck. So now, not only are you spending on promoting the content, you’ve got to spend on creating it too. All for benefits you might not even get.

You Can’t Really Connect

Social media marketing is about brands connecting with fans and potential fans right? Facebook used to do a fairly good job with the fan connection, but they never really facilitated connecting with potential fans.

Brands can only communicate with individual persons on Facebook if the persons initiates the conversation. This isn’t so on other social media platforms. This may not seem important until you realize just how much you can do with true two-way communication. On Twitter, for example, you can follow people and join in on hot topics or relevant discussions that started without you. Can’t do that on Facebook. You can also search keywords for persons looking for your service and reach out to them, even if they’ve never heard of you. Can’t do that on Facebook either.

Wrap It Up

Sure, there are some Facebook advocates out there saying ‘Facebook reach is not dead’. Some businesses might be afraid to let go because they already spent money and time building a sizeable audience. Others might say that they are fine with spending money to create content and reach their fans.

The question is, if there are other platforms out there that will get you more attention, more engagement and better relationships, wouldn’t the switch be worth it?

Stacy-Ann Hayles is a digital marketing consultant for solopreneurs and small businesses, who spends much of her time lurking in the corners of coffee shops and drawing eyebrows on her dogs. Learn more about her services here and feel free to send her a tweet (and coffee, she loves coffee).

When QR Code Marketing Works

In advertising, QR codes (otherwise known as Quick Response Codes) are the last thing that marketers want to use these days. Issues like: the scanner doesn’t work or issues with downloading the code reader are usually the main reasons why marketers shy away.

With the improvement of the smart phone technology, things could be looking up for QR codes. Here are a few instances where QR code marketing could be effective:

You optimize the user experience: Make the time to scan worth their while. For their Valentine’s Day Promotion, ATL Automotive  (Jamaica’s leading automotive group dealer) posted a simple black & white full-page press ad in the Observer, with a QR code and a “call-to-action” message: Scan your code for a chance to win tickets to see “Fifty Shades of Grey” on Valentine’s Day! #FiftyShadesofAudi

 

The idea that you can win a coveted ticket to the “most talked about movie of the year” has an air of excitement to it.

It has to add value: If the code is leading to a coupon, discount, a chance to win offer or a more in-depth insight into the brand then I say by all means use it. However, if your code is just leading to the home page of a website or your Facebook page, skip it.

Did I scan the code to for a chance to win the tickets? Unfortunately, I did not. They did post the code on their Instagram page and I typed in the url. It took me to a mailing list subscription.

However, the black and white ad also offered a hashtag, #50ShadesofAudi which encourages the conversation to continue on social media.

It suits the brand:  According to Mashable, “The QR Code was invented in Japan by the Toyota subsidiary Denso Wave in 1994 to track vehicles during the manufacturing process, and was originally designed to allow components to be scanned at high-speed.”

For ATL Automotive, which is a company who sells cars, the idea of using something  that was once used to track vehicles is poetic.

Christian Grey also mentions Audi in the book. Also poetic.

Alternatives to QR codes? SMS short codes, for one can be really effective. Do you think QR codes can work in advertising? Leave me your comments.

 

5 Trends Destined to Shape the Media this Year

Last month, myself and a few other marketers came together at a #MarketersMeetUp to discuss our forecasts for 2015. It was an interesting conversation that lead to predictions far beyond this year. These are a few that really stuck:

1. The use of Social Media Influencers.

While Facebook campaigns and viral videos are interesting and can garner likes and shares, they don’t always produce engagement that is long-lasting. With endorsements from social media influencers such as tv personalities, athletes, musicians, etc., brands can not only reach target audiences but can create long-lasting advocates who will willingly share their love for the brand.

Chris Gayle at the 2014 Miss Jamaica Universe Pageant http://instagram.com/p/sWUQplIeeN/

See the list below of top influencers in Jamaica by category by Twitter followers:

Sports-related: Usain Bolt (< 3.6mil), Chris Gayle (<1.9 mil), Lennox Lewis (<375,000), Yohan Blake (<300,000).

Music: Sean Paul (<1.2 mil), Tessanne Chin (<250,000), Mavado (< 200,000), Jah Cure (<190,000), Taurrus Riley (<160,000), Wayne Marshall (<100,000), Chronixx (<82,000), Protoje (<32,000)

TV Personalities: Miss Kitty (<100,000), Yendi Phillips (<60,000).

An endorsement in a tweet, Facebook post or Instagram post by these top accounts could create an impact.

2. Mobile Integration

With the invent of LoopJamaica.com and its seamless integration onto every new Digicel smartphone, having the latest news at your fingertips will allow brands to target audiences even when they are away from their computers. As mobile use continues to grow, brands will have another channel to tap into. Communication is now a two-pronged approach: stories about the brands and offerings tied into ads with the links to more information about products.

Gleaner and Observer are right behind. Both have apps available for download. Most recently, TeenAge Observer discontinued its printed publication and will now be exclusively online allowing for brands to tap into the Jamaican youth market. With the high cost of print media, the possibilities of curating content that will engage preteens and teens online is limitless.

3. Online influencing offline

With the success of Dutty Berry, a vlogger who inspired Jamaica to support Tessanne on her road to winning “The Voice” and more recently Bella Blair, brands will feel compelled to utilize these personalities to become ambassadors. The real value in their presence is that they are already engaging online, have a strong fan base and are reaching the audience in a way that traditional media sometimes doesn’t. Bella Blair for example, has a YouTube channel with over 35,000 subscribers and within the past year, received her own show called, “Bella’s Bizarre World” on RETV. Bella is creating content that is fresh, young and different but still appealing to a wide audience. Check out Bella in the new 2015 Cran Wata Ad:

Cran Wata Bella TV Ad

Check out the video that inspired the TV Ad 

4. Mobile Dominance

Its been in discussion for years and now it seems to be on the “tips of the tongues” of many folks, particularly as the rise of mobile usage and telecoms are determined to sell phones and data plans. Websites will have to be designed for mobile as you will lose the interest of readers in a second. Mobile e-commerce is also a forecast for 2015.

5. Blogger Nation

With the success of the Caribbean Blog and Social Media Awards late last year, brands witnessed the possibilities of using bloggers to create content around their messages and offerings. As bloggers continue to grow their audiences and create content that is personal and inspiring–brands will want to get on board.

Here’s Irie Dawta’s Orange Chicken recipe featuring Tru-Juice

What Measurement of Success means Today in PR

FILL IN THE BLANKS

“Our activities are trying to reach______ and encourage them to____. We will achieve this be influencing their_______, ________ and _______. We will connect to them through________, __________ and ________. We will work with _________, and _____to reach the audience. When activities have been implemented, the powers that be want to be able to say that this outreach has_________. ” @Carrie Schum – Planning & Research, Porter Novellli

This is a “fill in the blank” exercise,  Carrie Schum, Head of Planning & Research, Porter Novelli, proposes we use to implement our strategy. When you start filling out these blanks you are closer to finding the direction you need to be going – after listening to Carrie’s presentation at a recent meeting I was invited to, I was excited to see that not only was there a plug-in but, that “old skool” methods are still valuable when it comes to strategy.

We always think that the newest methods of measurement are the best but, at the end of the day, how do we measure our company’s PR image?

My answer to this question is engagement, engagement, engagement. When you start getting your audiences involved in a conversation that results in an action, then that optimizes success.