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

shutterstock_237774001
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).

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

Tweens and Facebook

Facebook recently changed their policy to allow 13-17 year olds to post publicly on Facebook. Which is fairly interesting because many of their tween market has shuffled to Instagram.

The whole idea of giving a tween such freedom is quite scary. With the incredible popularity of Twitter and Instagram among the teen market many people might wonder if this is just another attempt to get them to go back to using Facebook more often.

In all honesty, I prefer Instagram for my tween. Even though she’s allowed post pictures with location, her profile can be very private and unlike your Facebook you’re allowed some anonymity.

Promoting Events on Social Media

Last Saturday, I had the pleasure of covering an event for the organization I work for. It was remarkably organized and all of Washington’s elite were in attendance.

Now you may ask if the event was so well attended, what would be the benefit of social media? The great thing about social media, particularly twitter is that allows a conversation between people who may or may not know each other or have the opportunity to talk to each other at an event.

Here’s the best way to promote your event on social media:

Pre event: Be sure to create an event page on Facebook and invite every member of the group. Ask the event planners and other stakeholders to invite guests as well. Facebook has a new feature in which you can actually add a link to the where the tickets are being sold.

Be sure to ask guests to check in on Four Square. Four Square is a tool in which when used correctly can create a great buzz around your event.

Use a hashtag: By creating a hashtag it helps people follow the story and contribute to conversation by commenting on the event. The event I worked on had a great conversation going on about issues affecting Africa and the world economy. Former Presidents, Prime ministers, ambassadors, even Grammy Award winners were in attendance.

Showtime:

Promote the use of social media. Ask the audience to engage and if possible publicize for people to see. People like to feel as if they their experience is interactive.

Post Event: Make sure to post pictures on social media with captions of attendees. The quicker you do this, the quicker the buzz around the event will continue. The people who did attend will be anxious to see the pictures of themselves and their friends, as well as the other attendees and the people who were not able to attend will want to see pictures of people who did.

Storify: Make sure you storify it and share it with your audience, this is just another way to keep people talking and perhaps read some of the comments they may have missed from the event.

Do CEOs Tweet?

Photo Courtesy of Inc.com

 

I’m in process of planning a social media plan targeting high rollers to attend a gala for an international NGO.

I spent most of the weekend watching my mother , a former CEO and well over 45, spend many hours obsessing over her friends’ profiles on Facebook—their children’s baby announcements, marriages, trips, etc.

Which made me start to think how often do the over 45 age group really engage on social networks?

Even though she’s retired, she’s addicted to her email and still uses it as an essential form of communication with her friends and former colleagues.

But back to the strategy for the gala. I narrowed down my target audience to: White and Black males, over 45 who earn over $100,000 a year.

My mom has never tweeted or had the desire to use any other means of social media apart from Facebook. Which led me to think:

Do CEO’s of Fortune 500 companies tweet? Do they have time to tweet?

According to Pew Internet study released February 14, 52 percent of the age group 50-64 year olds use social networks with 65 percent being well educated. 66 percent earned more than $100,000 a year.

So the average CEO is online but its more than likely that they are not interested in tweeting and if they are, like many celebrities they have hired someone to do it.

Facebook is still rated the highest with an average of 67 percent saying they use it often.

What I also found interesting was that the Pew study discussed the characteristic of a Facebook user:

  • Facebook users are more trusting than others
  • Facebook users have more close relationships
  • Internet users get more support from their social ties and Facebook users get the most support
  • Facebook users are much more politically engaged than most people
  • Facebook revives “dormant” relationships