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Misconceptions of Facebook Marketing

There are a lot of misconceptions out there when it comes to marketing on Facebook. Unfortunately, several of these were spread further in an article that appeared in the Marion Star. While the people quoted in the story meant well and felt they were passing on helpful information, much of what was provided is just wrong and I feel obligated to offer some insight. By not pointing out the misconceptions, I feel like I might as well be endorsing them.

You can view the article, posted on Monday, October 17, by clicking here. (I can’t guarantee how long this link will be active, but we didn’t want to just steal it and post it on our site.)

I want to preface by saying that I have no way of knowing if these quotes were taken out of context or if they are true to what the individual was trying to say. I am only basing my comments on what was printed for everyone to see.

The Article

Wayne Rowe, director of communications at The Ohio State University at Marion, said “Any time someone makes an update on any of the sites I monitor, I see it.”

This is not always true. Facebook continues to use algorithms that choose what updates it thinks you want to see. You do not see every post that is submitted by those you follow. This algorithm continues to change and businesses have a harder and harder time breaking through the noise while Facebook tries to push them towards paid advertising.

Rowe also says, “On a regular website, I can’t send an invite to someone and it automatically go to their email, phone, Facebook page, etc.”

This is not true either. Part of your business marketing should including building an email database. This is used to update potential customers on what your business has to offer. The best part…this list belongs to you, not Facebook who take can it away on a whim.

Alex Sheridan was quoted by the story as saying Facebook is nice to use because everyone is on it.

No…everyone is not on it. In the U.S., those using Facebook equal about 50.2% of the population. Not only that, but in June it was reported that Facebook had lost 6 million U.S. users. Which means those using Facebook as their only marketing just lost 6 million potential customers.

“I basically have chosen to utilize Facebook over a website for one main reason – it is easier to maintain and update regularly,” said Rob Stumpo, owner of Stumpo’s Italian Kitchen.

This may be true with his website, but with a properly designed and developed site, this should not be a reality. Your website should, and can, be easy to update and use.

“We have a normal website, but I am forwarding that traffic to our Facebook page.”

This is the exact opposite way you should be using Facebook. You should be driving people to your website to capture valuable information that you own rather than giving it away to Facebook. You don’t have to believe me, just search Google and see how many articles there are on this subject.

According to Stumpo, the Facebook page will show up before other sites on a Google search as well. “Another positive is when you search something, Facebook pops up before the actual website. I’m going to try to embrace it. We get a lot of feedback from it.”

We tested this against a dozen sites, including our own, and rarely did the Facebook page come up first on Google. And it should never come up first if your website is updated and developed properly.

He is correct though, Facebook is a great way to gather feedback.

“Say one thing changes, like I take something off my menu. It will take me two hours to do the HTML and change it. If I go on Facebook, it takes 30 seconds to change it. The maintenance itself is so much easier than a website would be,” Stumpo said.

Again, your website should be and can be as simple to update as Facebook. If it’s not, then someone is doing it wrong.

Some Things Were Correct
There were several parts of the article that were right on.

Jeffrey Mull, a local acoustic pop musician, talked about using Facebook to drive traffic to his videos on Youtube. Now I would say he should be posting his Youtube videos on his own website, which is easy to do, and drive traffic there. But he understands that Facebook is a marketing tool, giving “him the opportunity to introduce people to his music who wouldn’t ordinarily be able to experience it.”

The article also talks about the Marion County Sheriff’s Office using Facebook to announce road closures, high water areas, severe weather alerts and snow emergency levels. They do this, but they also drive traffic back to their website instead of simply making updates. You can also bet your butt that they don’t rely on Facebook for all of their crime prevention. It’s only one tool.

Wrap Up
I know I may be coming across as anti-Facebook, but that is certainly not the case. I just worry about businesses that put all of their marketing eggs in one basket. Facebook is an amazing tool, but you have to make sure you are using it correctly. Since you don’t own Facebook, it can be taken from you without notice. If that were to happen to you, where would your marketing be?

You may also think we have a biased view because we build websites for small businesses. The truth is that we also spend a lot of time teaching people how to use social media, including Facebook.

With your own website, you own it and no one can take that from you.

Candice just happened to give a talk at the Marion Women’s Business Council on Monday, the same day this article came out. Her talk was on why your website is important even in this social media world. Click here to read what she had to say.

As always, we welcome your feedback and I’m always open to criticism. Just leave a comment!

Websites – Still Important in a Social Media World

Candice gave the following talk at the Women’s Business Council in Marion today. Ok, so she went off script a bit as all great speakers do, but this is the write-up. As always, we’d love to get your feedback, just leave a comment.

Today it’s more important than ever that businesses and organizations have a web presence. Having a website allows your business to be open 24/7 without you actually being there. It allows you to showcase your business to a wider audience, advertise on a limited budget, and so much more. Customers are no longer opening up a phone book to look for a business – they’re using the internet to not only find a name and phone number, but also learn about the exact services and pricing a business offers.

Many businesses, particularly small businesses, find it difficult to find the time and money to put into their online marketing, or they simply just don’t see the value in a website. More and more businesses are turning to social media as their primary web presence and forgoing a simple, basic domain name and website. And while it may seem like a good short-term solution as far as cost and time, it can really be a hindrance to your business.

Let’s talk about ownership first. Imagine there’s a fire that completely wiped out your business. Everything is gone – the building, the equipment, the product – everything. You have nothing left and you’re stuck starting from scratch all over again. Now imagine that in terms of your online presence. Imagine you’ve spent hours perfecting your marketing campaign, tweaking your website, uploading photos, etc and then the free service you’re using just goes up in flames. They shut down their servers without notice and no chance to back up or retrieve all that work you’ve done. How would that affect your business?

This can and does happen. Just last year, which hosted over 73,000 personal online blogs, was shut down without warning by the US Government because a handful of users had posted terrorist-related information.Because of the government’s involvement, the hosting company providing the server space refused to even let innocent users access to back up and save their files.

Ownership is incredibly valuable to a business. Ownership of your business’ domain name and website ensures that your online web presence is exactly what you want it to be. It also ensures that it stays there for as long as you foot the bill.

Control- All of us see the complaints on Facebook whenever they change anything. What if your business relies on Facebook as your sole online presence? What if suddenly Facebook decided to severely limit the ways businesses use their pages and interact with customers, or do away with them altogether?

As a user of a free service your scope of control is incredibly limited by the provider. You’re limited on what you can and can’t do, how you can and can’t interact with customers, etc. Having your own website means having complete and total control. It can look and feel the way you want it to. You can interact with customers how you want to. You can have a website that is flashy and really catches the customers attention. As far as websites go, you’re only limited by your imagination (and budget, of course).  You know your customer base better than Facebook does, and you shouldn’t be letting Facebook tell you how you can and can’t market to your customers.

Limited Audience - A website is a universal marketing piece. Anyone can see it anywhere in the world. Facebook and other social media, however, limit your audience. While it may seem like everyone is on Facebook, the truth is that only a little over 50 percent of the U.S. population has a Facebook account. Worse, Facebook’s own statistics only state that 50% of active users log on to Facebook in any given day. So take your amount of fans and divide that number in half. On any given day that you make a status update to your business page, an average of only half of your fans will see it. And that’s if Facebook even deems it “important enough” to show up in your feed.

Social media isn’t limited to Facebook – there’s also Twitter, Google+, Yelp, FourSquare, etc. Users that aren’t on one may very well be on another. Also, look for niche marketing opportunities – those ‘underground communities’ that are specifically geared towards your business. Ravelry, for example, is an online community geared towards people like myself who knit, crochet, weave, etc. It’s a huge community of people interested in fiber arts, and it’s a great place to advertise if you’re in that field because it’s exactly your target audience.

Insights - One of the most important things in online marketing is to know where you stand in terms of visits, page referrers, search engine key words, etc. Google offers a free tool called Analytics. In a nutshell, it’s a system that tracks how many people visit, how they got to your website, what key words they searched for to get there, what city/state/country they’re in, and so much more. Everything you want and need to know about your customers is right at your fingertips in an easy-to-understand format. Free services for websites and social media don’t offer you the ability to take advantage of this. Facebook does offer page administrators access to some of this information, however it can’t tell you what search terms were used to find your page, or what specific city in Ohio your visitors are from.

Ultimately, social media is a marketing tool and should be used as such. Use your website to make the sales, and use your social media to direct people back to your website. When you add a new product to your online store, or a new blog post, or a new coupon, link it up on Facebook!

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