“How do I get more Facebook fans?” is a question I hear from a lot of small businesses and non-profits these days.
In fact, I was looking through the analytics of flyte’s web marketing blog to see what the most popular search terms were, and a lot were focused on “growing a Facebook fan base,” “how do I get more Facebook fans,” and–sadly, “how to buy Facebook fans.”
Here’s the thing: it may not be in your best interest to get more Facebook fans.
People believe a lot when it comes to Facebook marketing because they’ve read it on the web or they’ve heard it from friends.
Here are five myths about Facebook and Facebook marketing that need to be debunked so that you can grow your business with Facebook…or without it.
Myth #1: You need to be on Facebook.
A few years ago, when Facebook was starting to experience its exponential growth, it was understandable that businesses and non-profits wanted to jump on board.
- Facebook was free. Unlike traditional media, you could reach your audience without having to pay a gatekeeper.
- There was little competition for attention. For many of us, our competitors weren’t on Facebook, or even if they were, they sucked at it. Getting started and getting in front of our fans was easy.
- It helped differentiate you from your competition. With so few of your competitors marketing themselves well on Facebook, it made you stand out.
Now, none of that is really true.
Managing a Facebook presence takes time and resources. Either you’re dedicating staff time to creating a page and updating your page daily, or you’re hiring an outside firm to do it for you.
There are more people on Facebook. While that sounds like a good thing, what it really means is that you have more competition to get seen in your fans’ newsfeed, because they’re getting so many more updates from friends.
There are more brands on Facebook. Seemingly every business, from multinational conglomerations to the corner liquor store is on Facebook. You’re no longer differentiating yourself from the competition, you’re part of the herd.
To get any sort of attention, you’re going to need to spend money on Facebook advertising to build your fan base. And even then you may not get seen. Because of EdgeRank, on average only 16% of your fans even see your latest update. How to overcome EdgeRank? Spend more money on advertising.
So much for free marketing.
Facebook marketing today means spending money to get set up, spending money to build a fan base, spending money to create engaging content, and spending money to get that content seen by people who have already liked your page.
All this to be a me-too company.
Myth #2: You need to have a Facebook business page.
Likes don’t pay the bills, comments don’t keep the lights on, and shares don’t cover the rent.
Sure, they may make you feel good, like a compliment from an attractive stranger, but they don’t help your bottom line.
There are a number of businesses out there that use Facebook successfully without have a Facebook page.
I was recently reading about a realtor who sells million dollar homes in the US to wealthy Mexican families. (I wish I could find where I read this. If you know, let me know in the comments below.) Rather than spend time and energy creating content every day for people who might be in the market for a home, he used targeted Facebook ads to identify his ideal customer and place ads in and around their newsfeed.
Sure, these ads cost money, but by narrowly targeting the ads, and paying only for click-throughs, he could reach more prospects for less money than creating and maintaining a Facebook business page.
If your audience doesn’t need to engage with your regularly (realtors, car dealerships, travel agents, etc.,) ads may offer better ROI than pages. Likewise, if you just don’t have the energy or resources to create fresh content on a regular basis, ads may be a preferable way to build your business using Facebook.
Myth #3: More fans means more reach.
If all you want is fans, that’s easy. Head over to Fiver.com and do a search for “Facebook fans.” You can get 100, 400, even 1,500 “high quality” Facebook fans.
As a test, I did this once for a Facebook fan page I ran for a side project. It worked. (Yes, I had to shower afterwards. Twice.) I was promised 250 new fans in 24 hours and I think I had them in 8.
Here’s the rub.
Fans you buy don’t give a damn about your business. They’re never going to engage with your page, never mind buy from your company.
Because Facebook’s EdgeRank algorithm looks at total engagement, the more disengaged fans you have the less people you can reach.
In short, you’re paying to be able to reach less people!
Now, you may say, “well, I would never buy fans like that.” Cool beans. But I know many marketers and small business owners who pester their friends and family members to fan their page. However, unless your friends are also likely to engage with you on a regular basis, these “fans” too can hurt your engagement rankings and your reach.
Myth #4: There’s a “best time” to update your page.
Social media experts, blogs and websites share research and evidence all the time that shows there’s an optimal time and/or day to post an update to your page.
The truth is, most social media marketers (this one included) are lazy. If we see a stat, we run with it, and it’s repeated ad naseum until it is “true.”
What’s best for the “average” business or non-profit may not be best for you. Your audience may be night owls. Or work weekends. Or get up at 4am and check their newsfeed.
You won’t know what’s the “best time” to post updates to your page unless you actively measure it in Facebook Insights.
Even then, the type of post, the news cycle, how many other people and businesses are updating their status at that particular moment, and how damn clever you are, all come into play.
Also, as soon as a time or day is determined to be the “best time,” every business tries to post then, destroying the advantage of posting then.
Myth #5: There’s a “best type” of update.
Photos are the best type of update because they are eye catching in your fans’ newsfeeds.
That is, until every person and business uses photos, then they stop being effective.
Asking questions is the best type of update because it invites comments. Well, unless they require a long answer because people have short attention spans. Or it’s the type of question that once it’s answered correctly people stop responding. Or it’s the wrong time of day.
Quotes are the best type of update because they’re inspiring. You can even make them more engaging by laying them over a photo! Until everyone is posting quotes and yours get lost in the stream.
The bottom line is that whatever becomes the “best type” of content gets used and abused, to the point where it becomes ineffective. Also, the type of update that works best for the average business may not work best for you.
And even if it worked best for you last month, it doesn’t mean that it will work best for you this month, because Facebook probably changed their algorithm.
Myth #6: People on Facebook don’t like to leave Facebook.
This myth has driven many businesses to build out expensive custom tabs where fans can engage, buy, and opt-in to mailing lists.
Yet Facebook consistently generates more outbound traffic than just about any other website in the world. Including Google.
If you want to drive traffic away from Facebook, you can. You may need to incentivize your fan base (or ideal customer) a bit more, but if the reward is worth it, they’ll follow you anywhere.
Myths are created because people are busy and/or lazy.
We believe we need to be on Facebook and have a business page because everyone else is, so it must be important.
We believe we need more fans because everything’s a numbers game, and so many of the articles on Facebook are about getting more fans, so it must be important.
We believe there’s a best time, or best type of update that will really engage our audience, because we all like the idea of there being a short cut.
We believe people don’t like to leave Facebook because the pundits tell us it’s so, even when the evidence says otherwise.
If you want to build your business with Facebook, you need to stop taking things at face value, including this post!
You need to start by writing down your business goals and determine how (and if) Facebook can help you accomplish them.
Then assign resources (page building, regular updates), and money (Facebook ads, sponsored stories), to give your business the chance to succeed.
Finally, measure your results using Facebook Insights, Google Anlaytics and other metrics to determine what’s working for YOUR business so that you can continually improve your Facebook marketing and your ROI.
If you found this helpful, or if you’ve got some Facebook myths of your own I neglected to mention, please let me know in the comments below.
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