Ten reasons why Facebook is no place to do business

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?

Image: Bizmarkblog.com

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11 responses to “Ten reasons why Facebook is no place to do business

  1. LinkedIN is great for B2B however there are pretty much no Australian pet sitters (pet minders, pet carers) on LinkedIN. They’re on FB. So if I want to market to other pet sitters, dog walkers and pet minders I have to go to Facebook for B2B.

    At the same time, I agree. FB is great for very localised B2C marketing which I rely upon for my business which has always relied upon Word Of Mouth marketing.

    • Thanks for stopping by. Sounds like you know what you’re doing though, Vanessa. And GoldCoastPets sounds awesome!

  2. Facebook is about communicating with people. Isn’t B2B just that on the basic level? When computers do all the negotiations and decisions, then we don’t need to communicate with people in B2B environment.

    If a person of interest wants/is ready to network with you in Facebook, take it. Find the box You’re in and look outside.

    • Thanks for commenting, and it would be true if companies researched Facebook to see if their target audience is 1/ on Facebook 2/ receptive to comms. My experience of b2b marketing is that most either dip their toe with no strategy, no plan, no idea of what success will look like and then wonder why it doesn’t work.

  3. Good post – we could get a good dialogue going here.

    My view is that I use Facebook so that people that I know, but don’t see very often, may not have known I have my own business, so now they do. So if they know someone who is looking for a Graphic Designer I am hoping they might recommend me.

    I also find it good for websites that are just launched, but adding a link on Facebook the Google robots find it quickly. I got one site indexed by Google in under a week.

    But I don’t use it as a direct means of reaching people.

  4. For non-cult, non-household name brands (regardless of turnover), Facebook just isn’t “there” yet, and I’m not convinced it will within the next 3 years.

    I work for a company with a “good” brand recognition within our market place. We sell high value, technically complex building products and systems to the architectural and construction industries. Would any of them trust FB to communicate such information? Would it some how cheapen the brand if used?

    My opinion to date is there are no ideal SM platforms to appropriately communicate in B2B. Within our industry, Twitter has a small take up (20% at best) and of those claiming to use it for “work” most will self promote and very few seek information on what to buy from whom. Linked In has its uses, but is largely a way to keep up-to-date with new developments for your own role or a glorified CV. Company pages have very limited use.

    I’m monitoring SM traffic of course, as things do change. The majority of our web pages have “AddThis” buttons so I can track to see if anyone is sharing our content socially. Some do, but it’s nothing to get excited about atm.

    My own personal aim is to make sure (antiquated CMS issues aside) is our website is as interactive as possible, eventually allowing for user generated page content via on page comments, page ratings etc. I would love a customer to take the time to say “Hi, I came to this page expecting to see X, but can’t… where is it?”

    Websites are and will remain a dominant B2B force for quite some time, until new technological products provide a better alternative. The better websites will extract the best of SM functionality into them as a hybrid that is familiar to both pre and post Generation V. That’s y gut feel anyhow.

    /Matt

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  8. Interesting thoughts. I agree with Jane; this conversation could be (should be) the start of a much-needed debate within the B2B marketing community.

    If it’s of value to you and/or others on this site, I have some counterarguments to these points. You can find them here: http://www.godfrey.com/How-We-Think/B2B-Insights-Blog/Social-Media/Yes-Even-You-Should-Be-On-Facebook.aspx.

    A couple counterpoints to your post, respectfully so:

    (To points 1, 2, 4 and 10)
    I would encourage you to note that things are changing rapidly. Specifically, the world is converging, whether that’s with respect to “work vs. play” or “personal vs. professional.” Those lines are blurring. Business professionals check company e-mails at home. Conversely, business professionals pay bills at work. As such, people may not feel as though their days are “disrupted” with businesses showing up on their Facebook news feeds *if the content is relevant to their lives.* Convergence is real and will continue, not diminish, over the foreseeable future. With this truth in mind, I believe Facebook will be more business-oriented than you presently regard. B2B companies should seize the day and take advantage, well ahead of the curve.

    (To point 6)
    This argument is neither true nor substantiated with evidence. You even noted “having a profile might help you in the rankings…” Isn’t that the large goal with SEO? A good URL for you: http://www.toprankblog.com/2010/08/facebook-seo/.

    I look forward to your feedback.

    Respectfully and sincerely,

    Lance Baird
    lbaird@godfrey.com
    http://www.godfrey.com/How-We-Think/B2B-Insights-Blog/Social-Media/Yes-Even-You-Should-Be-On-Facebook.aspx

    • Thanks for your expansive comment Lance and in taking the time to check out this little blog. I’ve been out of action for a week and am only now able to respond.
      You will have hopefully seen my own counter blog post regarding Facebook marketing for b2b companies?

      I think everything you say sounds plausible and companies should consider Facebook if they believe that 1/ their target audience is using Facebook for business purposes 2/ are uninhibited in converging their work and private lives (I believe this is not the case for the majority) and 3/ they use it in a smart way to add value and drive community. To me, this requires good and relevant content.

      The fact remains that whilst it has lots of networking, SEO and viral benefits, Facebook in my view, Facebook isn’t, and shouldn’t be used by every b2b marketer right now. The landscape in the UK and Europe is quite different to the US. But it won’t be long before there is merit. B2b marketers would be better advised to focus on delivering quality products and services to the right people in the right place at the right time in the right way. This encompasses all marketing tools of which Facebook is but one.

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