Social media, as you must know by now, is not just Facebook. Yet, it is the first platform discussed when businesses discuss their social media options. This might seem provocative, but if you’re in b2b marketing, consider these ten compelling reasons why Facebook is no place for you to do serious business right now.
1. Facebook was conceived as a social network, not a business network. Think about your own use. Do you use it to source new products, services and suppliers or catch up with friends and family, share photos and video and ‘like’ the occasional link?
2. Just because there are 600m users, it doesn’t mean they are the slightest bit interested in what you have to say to them. See point one. Your brand messages and communications interrupt them whilst doing something else at a time when they have in all likelihood switched out of work mode.
3. Businesses using Facebook in ways that add real value are the exception rather than the rule.
4. Many businesses still outlaw Facebook use during work hours and on work hardware. It is seen as distracting, time wasting and risky. And far from being blurred (as some commentators suggest), there is a case to suggest that the divide between professional and personal networking is wider than ever.
5. Facebook had a great opportunity to create a powerful social-search platform but opted for a tie-up with Bing rather than Google. Google dominates search where Facebook dominates social. This has to be seen as an opportunity lost because Facebook probably wanted to dominate online, rather than offer a truly global service with customer experience at its heart.
6. It gets worse. There are no real SEO benefits. Having a profile might help you in the rankings but all site content is locked behind password access.
7. Facebook Places and Facebook Deals (the company’s take on innovative online players like Foursquare and Groupon) are inevitably b2c and retail high street focused. How will the immediacy of making a passing purchase in b2c translate to the slower, multi-stakeholder influenced b2b buying decision? Arguably not well and not very quickly either.
8. Highly targeted, low cost pay per click advertising might appear attractive, but if you’re not paying a lot for your clickthroughs, it suggests aren’t getting many. And if the news is correct, the cost of Facebook advertising is about to soar.
9. Websites remain the primary platform of choice for companies and brands to inform and engage customers. Throughout all stages of research, shortlisting and selection of suppliers, websites rank highest in all information resources. And doesn’t it seem a little absurd to send people to a Facebook page which then presumably wants to send them back again?
10. Ultimately, I think if you want to use Facebook for business you have to be a business falling into one of two categories. A hyper-local business operating in a clearly definable geography with a compelling retail USP which can use a friend network as word of mouth is one. Another is a significant b2b brand which, like a Blackberry, can draw on the brand cache of a consumer market and engage thousands of people. For everything in between, you might be disrupting people in their downtime and risking your long term reputation.
But that’s just my view, and the landscape is changing daily. What’s your experience?