From billboards to cereal boxes to store receipts, that familiar “f” logo seems to be everywhere you look.
Businesses of all sizes promote their Facebook pages at nearly every customer touch point. The media is constantly covering developments and trends in the social media industry and, with its recent IPO, Facebook seems to be all everyone is talking about. But what does all it mean for you as a small business owner—and can your business survive without actually having a Facebook page?
In a past article I looked at social media for business and reviewed what to do once you establish a presence online. But let's take a step back and think about the value of a Facebook page for your business.
Social media has grown tremendously in the last several years and shows no signs of abatement. Currently, Facebook has over 900 million active users worldwide. Other social networks have increased in popularity as consumers are more connected than ever, especially with the help of smartphones. Unlike traditional advertising (print ads, TV, radio, etc.), the growth of social media gives small businesses access to consumers for a low start-up cost and offers the opportunity for real-time conversation, response and analysis.
But the big question is, is it really that important for people to “Like” your business? Well, maybe. Here are three things to consider:
- Know your customers. Is your primary customer likely to be an active on Facebook user? While Facebook attracts users of all demographics, you have to ask yourself: is your customer base active on social media and would they have an interest in connecting with your business's page?
- Know your market. Just as important as knowing who you're selling to is determining whether or not having a Facebook page for your type of business would actually be useful for your customer. For example, if you have a dry cleaning or document shredding service, would having a Facebook page bring value to your customers? What sort of benefit would your customers get by “Liking” your company on Facebook?
- Commit to maintaining it. Before you launch a page, make sure you can commit to maintaining it. This not only means updating and posting regularly, but moderating the community. While having a Facebook page can open the door to fans of your business who post thank you notes or share positive stories of your brand—it can also open the door to negative comments and customer complaints, which will be in full view for the public to read. Rather than ignoring or deleting these comments, Entrepreneur Magazine's Mikal Belicove offers suggestions on how business owners can deal with the negative comments.
The great part about Facebook is, any business can get started simply by creating a free Facebook account and connecting with customers. While building a fan base can be a challenge for any brand, once the page is live, it can be used to share business news, ask for customer feedback and, ideally, grow the business. It's almost like having your own PR team and focus group at your side.
So, does your business need a Facebook page? In the end, it's up to you. As with any new marketing initiative, it's important to know what you're getting into—as well as what will be required of you—before you jump in. And if you do, enjoy the ride—you'll be in great company.
Bilal Kaiser works in—surprise—social media marketing. Follow him at @bka1ser on Twitter for more tips and ideas.