You may have seen this article already: I put my family business on Facebook. Here’s what happened.
That article, published Saturday on an Irish news site, got a fair bit of play over the weekend on Twitter and elsewhere. And for good reason: It’s an interesting story about one small business’s experience in using Facebook as a marketing channel.
But, a far as I’m concerned, the buzz was focused on the wrong thing.
Buzz: Facebook Stinks!
That seemed to be the focus of most of the discussion that I saw. This small business set up Facebook pages, and they didn’t do much. Then the business tried Facebook ads, and they performed even worse. I saw this excerpt being quoted:
So far I have spent €160. Time to look at the number of our own website visits clicked through from the Facebook pages. Result? Two! €160 quid for two clicks, each of whom looked at two site pages.
Clearly something is not right, so I decide to view the profiles of all those who clicked the ads. They hit one common spot – they were all in the UK. But they were aged from 13 to about 70, many were unemployed or in education, we even had a Muslim fundamentalist who is very concerned about things in Pakistan. Lots and lots of doting mothers with FB pages full of cutesy little life mottoes. It may well suit some types of businesses but I can say we are not among that number.
Some were using that to talk about how ineffective Facebook advertising can be, especially in light of Facebook’s generally unimpressive IPO on Friday.
The Real Story…
But, to me, the real story — and where the buzz should’ve focused — was much earlier in the article. The article begins with the author admitting that he owns a “pretty boring” B2B packaging business. The company sells boxes, bubble wrap, tape, bags and stuff like that. And then paragraph three holds the key: (emphasis mine)
Now, as an older chap of nearly 60, I am no spring chicken and readily admit that I have great difficulty in ‘getting it’. But everything I read about maximising your web presence and impact told me that SMEs must integrate and embrace social media, especially Facebook.
He put his business on Facebook because he read that SMBs have to be there.
The story here isn’t that Facebook ads are ineffective. The story isn’t that this one business owner’s experience is a symbol of how overvalued Facebook is as a publicly traded company.
The story is that Facebook isn’t the right fit for every business. I wouldn’t say that B2B companies should completely avoid Facebook, but I do think it’s more of a challenge for B2B companies — especially ones that are “pretty boring.” Generally speaking, LinkedIn would probably be a better fit for this company — it’s a business networking site that would probably allow this company to better connect with potential customers.
But the bottom line is this: when it comes to social media, you have to be where your customers are. This business learned the hard way that its customers aren’t on Facebook.
That’s the real story here.