This month’s Greater Fort Wayne Business Weekly column: Dispelling three Facebook myths

My February Greater Fort Wayne Business Weekly column is all about Facebook–Facebook myths, that is. Read on to see if these misconceptions have any implications for your business. 

Dispelling three Facebook myths 

There’s a lot of conventional wisdom surrounding Facebook that isn’t very … well … wise. To help your business understand some of the pitfalls that come with these misconceptions, here’s a look at three of the most prominent Facebook myths and why your business should avoid buying into them.

Myth No. 1: “You have to be on Facebook.” Facebook’s supremacy among social media sites is undeniable. With 800 million members, Facebook is so huge that its membership is larger than the population of all but two countries, China and India. And with approximately 150 million of the members in the U.S. alone, it does seem as if everyone is on Facebook.

Who has the best chance of success? Businesses whose product or service is aligned with the predominant Facebook audience member’s mind-set. In short, people go to Facebook to have fun and to express themselves. If your company’s Facebook activity is aligned with that mind-set, there’s a chance you may get a decent return on the time you spend on your Facebook page. If not, there’s a good chance it will be a waste of your time and effort.

The key is being objective about your business and understanding that other social media tools might be a better choice for your company — Twitter, location-based social media, LinkedIn, discussion boards, blogs and YouTube being just the beginning of the possibilities. The truth is, while Facebook sometimes seems like its own universe, it’s merely one planet in the social media galaxy.

Myth No. 2: “Facebook is a great way to get your message out.” There was a time when marketing was kind of like using a megaphone. If you wanted to reach an audience, you simply crafted a message and shouted it in the general direction of the audience. If you wanted to reach more people, you’d simply turn up the volume. It was a one-way medium at a time when the audience expected that’s how brands would communicate with them.

Well, as anyone in business knows, those days are over. Today’s audiences want more than a one-way conversation. When a given brand doesn’t make that available, they tune out and turn their attention toward content that allows them to get involved. With this in mind, it’s critical to understand that if you’re using Facebook primarily to get your message out, you’re simply engaging in another form of megaphone marketing. What’s the alternative? Using Facebook and other social media tools to listen to what the audience is saying about your business, your products and your competitors. This is harder than simply broadcasting whatever message you think the audience wants to hear, but it’s much more valuable. And today, given the growth in social media adoption, it’s never been easier to access your audience’s opinions and understand what deserves your attention.

The reality is, however, that very few brands do this. According to a recent study by Socialbakers, a whopping 95 percent of wall posts from Facebook page fans go unanswered. Most companies, it seems, are using this new medium in the same old way, and that exposes the tremendous opportunities available to your company if you reject their approach.

Myth No. 3: “Facebook is great for customer acquisition.” Many brands see Facebook as a great way to attract new customers by accruing as many “likes” as possible. Because of this perception, brands do some pretty ludicrous things to get attention. A common example is the brand that says, “’Like’ our page on Facebook and you’ll be entered in a drawing to win an iPad!”

Does this approach work? Well, if the end game is more “likes” (or to get rid of that extra iPad you have lying around), then it works pretty well. The problem, however, is that when people click “like” in this scenario, what they’re really saying is that they “like” the chance to win an iPad. Does that mean they “like” you? Not necessarily, and not very “likely.”

What should you do if your strategy is founded on misinformation like the examples provided above? Well, there’s another myth worth ignoring: the myth that you can’t start over once you’ve begun using Facebook. Even though Facebook is now a mature medium, audiences are very forgiving about changes made by pages if — and this is important — those changes improve their experience.

After all, as Einstein once said, the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. That’s a little wisdom that’s far from conventional and more true than even the most compelling myth you’ll ever hear.

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