The number one mistake we see businesses making is their insistence on using Facebook the same way as if they were a consumer. Organic Facebook reach is dead. If you want to use Facebook for business there will be a cost to doing so. Not realising this is the biggest business mistake on Facebook.
This is not a new problem – it’s been around a few years. So if you know about digital marketing and have been operating on Facebook for awhile you don’t need me to tell you this. However the problem has not stopped – new businesses taking their presence online via Facebook are still making the same mistake.
Facebook business failures
Go on Facebook and look up a local business. Chances are they do have a Facebook page. Very likely though it’ll be a husk: one or two posts around the time of being first published, maybe a splurge of activity and then nothing.
This happens because business owners think that simply by being on Facebook they’ll be visible. They’ll be able to post their new menu or a deal on a particular service and it’ll be seen by potential customers. Unfortunately not. Without a paid boost this is no longer realistic.
Even worse; the people who actually follow your page will be unlikely to see your post. These are not strangers. These are people who have already told Facebook “yup, I want to hear from this business”. Even these people are unlikely to see the majority of what you post.
What happens therefore is that after an initial burst of excitement with their new Facebook Page business owners become disillusioned. How come no one is phoning about the new offer? Why has no one liked the photo of our new lasagne special?
The result? After a frenzied week of posting they stop. Facebook doesn’t work, they’ll justify themselves. Or, it may work for your business but not for mine.
But what about the hundreds of thousands of businesses that Facebook does work for? Why does it work for them and not for me and my lasagne? And it does work – Facebook’s business model is based on advertising and they wouldn’t be the size they are today if they didn’t deliver on their advertising promises.
Where then does this problem stem from?
Who is Facebook’s customer?
We treat Facebook as users – as consumers – not as customers. This is the core error.
Most of us are familiar with using Facebook as users. Heck, even our grandmother’s use it. In fact the average age of a Facebook user is 40.5 in the US. We’ve had a decade of experience using Facebook as users, as consumers.
When we use Facebook as a business though we have to come at it differently. We are no longer users – we are customers.
Stop and think about this for a moment. Who is Facebook’s customer? (I just gave it away but have a real think).
Most people would immediately say “well, the average Joe using Facebook. Me, my friends, my grandma. Facebook is for us.”
But this is incorrect. The average Joe on Facebook is PRODUCT, not the customer. More specifically the product is Average Joe’s attention.
Attention is a limited resource. It’s a subset of time but even more valuable – attention is focused use of time, something that is in short supply nowadays. We’re pulled in so many directions simultaneously by our various electronic devices, all beeping at us for attention.
Facebook is in the business of selling attention. The supply of attention comes from their users. The demand for attention – who they are selling to – the customer: businesses.
This means when we as a business approach Facebook and then proceed to use it in the same way we would as a user (instead of a customer) we’ll be disappointed. Simple as that.
The intern can do it
Working in digital marketing and with clients we see this a LOT. One tragic (albeit hilarious) tendency of businesses is to simply appoint whoever is youngest to deal with “social media” and “online stuff”.
The assumption here is that because the intern (or whoever) is young and uses social media as a user they are the best person to deal with it for the business.
We see this again and again. A young person given the helm with all things digital and left to sink or swim. Often, as an agency, we are brought in to help or replace the young person who is obviously out of their depth. It’s not their fault – they were thrown overboard without a life jacket. Enough nautical metaphors.
Attention isn’t free
Why do people think they can use Facebook without paying?
To be fair in the “olden days” this was more doable. When Facebook was small and had less users there was more chance that what you posted would actually get seen. When you posted a cute cat pic your friends and family were almost guaranteed to see it. If it was your racist uncle then you might even (unfortunately) see their Christmas-ruining rant many times over.
As Facebook grew though this changed. There are more than 2 billion users on Facebook now. There are 7.5 billion people on earth. Think about that – Facebook’s user base is just under 1/3rd of ALL humanity.
As the amount of people on Facebook increased so did the amount of posting. Stands to reason. At the same time advertisers were entering the fray. This was (and is) Facebook’s business model – get a lot of users and sell their attention to advertisers. The increase in users and customers means that Facebook got very busy.
Think of your main Facebook profile feed. The posts you see on a daily basis. The text, photos and videos – interspersed with advertising. All of these friends, relations, community groups, local events, big businesses and more are clamouring for your attention.
If Facebook let them all through unfiltered your feed would be chaos – you’d have new messages popping up every few milliseconds. Stop reading for 5 minutes and you’ll return to find 1000 new messages, all of them vying for your attention. Me, me, me!
Instead Facebook (and actually Twitter nowadays) added filters. Whenever you hear of an “algorithm change” on social media this is what it means – it’s a filter basically.
Facebook can tweak who exactly gets your precious attention using these filters. This is an extremely delicate balancing act. If they give priority to your friends and family only and block the advertising they’ll go bust. Remember, the businesses are their customers.
If they instead reduce the amount of content from friends and family and instead bombard you with solely advertising then guess what – they’ll lose their users. People will flock away from Facebook onto the next flavour of the month like Google+ (ha! RIP Google+).
No users, no attention, no product.
No product, no revenue, no business.
As such Facebook’s decisions about their algorithms are extremely important. They even influence stock prices as its so essential to how the business works.
How to advertise your business effectively on Facebook
OK, back to you. What does this mean for you and your business?
First up we need to stop using Facebook as a consumer. Take control back. Kick that young ‘un off the social media admin accounts. Youthful scallywag.
Next we’re going to loosen the purse strings.
Oh no! A cost!
Well, here’s the long and short of it. Tough. Getting attention costs money.
If you were running an advert on a TV station would you expect it for free? No – it costs. A lot.
If you were running a flyering campaign is it free? No – you need to design, print and distribute the flyers.
Hell, if you were going to a conference to do some face-to-face marketing would you expect it to be free? No, we shell out loads for these events, not to mention the time it takes.
All modes of garnering attention have an inherent cost. Facebook is no different.
The good news – Facebook is cheap. Much cheaper than those alternatives.
And, because most people pay NOTHING you can get ahead easily.
The difference between 0 and 1 is massive on Facebook. 0 investment means 0 reach. A small investment ($1-$5/day) means you are suddenly in front of hundreds-thousands of potential customers per day.
Is that cost worth it to your business? That’s a business decision. You need to know the value of attention for your business, the value of a lead and the value of a customer. Then you assess the costs of Facebook advertising against these business costs.
This is beyond the scope of the article (and covered elsewhere) but a useful piece of information. If you are going to start advertising on Facebook make sure you use video. Preferably Live Video.
Why? You get a HUGE amount more reach per £/$ spent. Facebook’s algorithms (their filters remember) prioritise video content over images, images over text. Live video is treated even more preferentially. In fact it’s the only way to get organic reach reliably nowadays on Facebook.
Also, if you are using video don’t just add a link to your Youtube channel. Facebook and Google (the owners of Youtube) are bitter rivals. Unsurprisingly therefore Facebook’s filters are more likely to show videos embedded on Facebook rather than on Youtube. Makes sense – they don’t want to send people away from Facebook over to Youtube.
We’ve covered video’s use in marketing extensively over on our digital marketing course on Youtube.
How to market on Facebook – a summary
- Don’t allow your business’ Facebook Page to become yet another husk – empty and unloved.
- Facebook is a company. Unpaid reach does not happen. Get used to the idea of advertising as a business cost.
- The difference between 0 and 1 online spend is massive. Get ahead of your competitors with the tiniest of spends.
- Use video to get the most bang for your buck.