In “Defense” of Facebook

group_of_people“Sir, I saw this article: http://www.forbes.com/sites/elandekel/2013/01/22/facebook-pages-are-a-bad-investment-for-small-businesses/ whilst doing some searches, and I was interested in your take,” I introduced today’s subject to The Effective Detective.

The Detective raised an eyebrow. “I have seen the article Watson. Since you did not mention it, I will note that the date of the article is the beginning of the year which I would hope means the information is not too dated – things like this change so fast, but I will make a few observations, anyway. “

“That is all I ask, sir,”  encouraging The Detective to continue, which he of course obliged.

“I see immediately that the author of the article seems to have a different view from us of  what effective marketing is for small businesses. He sees Facebook pages as a standalone vehicle or database, whereas I would see it as another tool to help us reach our primary objective – building our list. He has documented his efforts quite completely and gives strong numerical evidence of his concerns,” The Detective took his characteristic pause for me to encourage him to continue or to ask a question. This time I chose a question.

“But sir, with its massive reach and number of users – many of whom might be in one’s target market, Facebook would seem to be a logical choice for dissemination of content. If they want to manage our list for us, what would be the problem?”

The Detective held my gaze for a moment, then began his response. “Elementary, my dear Watson. As an adjunct to our own efforts to pass on content to our list, I would say Facebook should be a vehicle on the top of your list. I say adjunct because, like all vehicles we must consider, there are weaknesses. The weakness that is most obvious is one that almost all social media shares: timing. If you post something to your Facebook page, you are hoping that your target will happen to review their news feed at a time when your post is appearing on it. Given the variety of types of usage of Facebook, and the ranking algorithms that Facebook uses to determine what appears on your feed at any particular time, this may very well be an extremely hit and miss proposition.”

“But is email any better?” I interjected.

“I would say yes,” The Detective answered without missing a beat. “The usage patterns of email are very different from Facebook, and remember that the people on your list asked to be included and generally then opted in again. They may not open every email you send; it is always possible to miss one or two here and there, but the probability that they will see and open it is higher than that they will see a post on Facebook.”

“Give that, is the author of the article is correct? Facebook pages are a bad investment for small businesses?” I asked.

“If I may be allowed to continue,” The Detective replied with more than a hint of aggravation in his voice. “perhaps the way he describes using them is a bad investment, but what does it cost you to allow your email software to post what you are sending out to your list to also send it on as a Facebook post? Nothing! Yet you have one more outlet for your content that either someone on your list might be able to catch if they missed your email, or that could catch the eye of someone who has not yet signed up. An even better use, as long as Facebook doesn’t restrict it, is placing your sign-up form on your Facebook page, so that the people who like your page can easily sign up to get on your list as well, giving you more direct contact to them,” The Detective finished.

“So the more the merrier! Eh, sir?”

“Trite Watson, but yes, your exclamation is appropriate. Why reject a vehicle when all it may take is using it a slightly different way than you planned?” The Detective got the last word in before turning back to his work.

 

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