It’s all you’re hearing: Facebook is bigger than Google! You’ve got to get a presence for your business on Facebook or you’re missing out! You need a fan page right now! What do you mean, your website blog isn’t on Networked Blogs? What have you been doing with yourself? What are you waiting for? You’re losing readers/customers/whatever!
If you’ve been putting off your big attempt to conquer Facebook, I have good news for you: as cool as it is to leverage Facebook when you can and it makes sense to do so, it doesn’t work for every website. Not every site will get much out of Facebook, and it won’t be because they’ve done something wrong. It will be because Facebook is not just a heavily trafficked website that will crash your shared server if you get your link on the front page. It’s a site about something, with little tiny pages, which are very specific and only get seen by so many people.
What’s Facebook for?
Let’s think about that. Facebook is about helping individuals connect with other individuals. It’s not about helping individuals find cool sites, or better appliances, or discounts. For the most part, people use Facebook just the way it was intended – to communicate with people they like.
If you’re good at getting people interested in you as a person or mini-celebrity, you might be able to start a Facebook page that gets popular. But will it drive traffic to your website? Only if you find a way to tease people from your Facebook entries to your website for more information or something. That’s tricky to do since the whole reason many people use Facebook is to have a catchall place where they keep up with everything they care to keep up with.
Fan pages & Groups
But what about fan pages or a Facebook Group for your business? Don’t individuals share stuff like that with each other? Well, yeah, sometimes. But do you check everything your friends recommend or join? I don’t. A lot of people who don’t realize what they’re doing recommend every willy nilly group they join to their entire collection of friends. They join 50 Mafia Wars Add Groups in a day, you’re going to see every single one of them if you read the “Most Recent” version of your newsfeed (which many of us do, because otherwise you can miss updates you totally wanted to know about).
I’m not discouraging you from using Facebook to promote your business. I’m just encouraging you to have a plan before you invest a lot of time and effort into it, because it’s really not for every business.
Another issue with Facebook: the age of your users. While all the Baby Boomers I know have finally embraced email and even texting, quite a few still can’t be bothered with Facebook. There’s a learning curve to Facebook, at least for some brains: it seems to be organized in a way that’s intuitive to many people, but completely counter-intuitive to others. Older users just aren’t that into it. If your site depends on Boomers for your money, Facebook could be a huge waste of time. Or, if you’re seeking younger visitors, it might be just what the doctor ordered.
Facebook’s Networked Blogs feature is a little more useful for any website that has a blog. It basically allows Facebook users to use their accounts as RSS readers: you set your blog up as a Networked Blog, they “follow” it, and they get updates with teasers every time you post. This has some value, but I’ve seen some really well-trafficked sites only get a couple hundred followers on their Networked Blogs. Still, it’s a one-time set up followed by absolutely no maintenance, so what have you got to lose?