A Facebook Page Isn’t Always the Answer

This post, written by Julie, first appeared as a guest post on Sage's Business Management Blog: “My boss says we need a Facebook page.”

As social media strategists we hear that a lot. Our response is often, “why?” Just because everyone else is doing it doesn’t mean a Facebook page is the right choice for your business. Here are a few questions to ponder before diving head first into your corporate Facebook account.

Are your customers on Facebook? With 500 million people on Facebook, it’s likely your customers have Facebook accounts. But, are they using Facebook for business or as a personal networking tool? If you’re a very technical B2B business–maybe you sell circuit boards for solar panels–then it probably makes more sense to build a community in the more corporate LinkedIn.

Do you have internal resources for managing your Facebook page? This is a serious consideration and one that often gets overlooked. For Facebook to work as an engagement tool, you’ll need to create and run contests, offer giveaways, write useful articles and point fans to quality content elsewhere on the web. These marketing activities take time and effort. If no one in your organization takes ownership of the project, your Facebook page won’t succeed.

Is Facebook a PR liability? A corporate Facebook page provides the perfect public platform for people to vent their frustrations with your organization. If your business regularly endures public criticism–say you’re a sports team, an airline or an oil and gas company–then be aware that Facebook may create a PR burden for organization.

Will Facebook (and other social media channels) take away from current marketing activities? Social media can be a fruitful addition to your existing marketing programs, but shouldn’t come before old-school marketing activities that are working well. Time and again we see email marketing results out-perform Facebook and Twitter when it comes to sales and conversions. Though it can be tempting, don’t abandon existing programs for the shiny new bobble.

Is it imperative to get Facebook fans to your website? Converting fans to customers is easier said than done. One reason is because once people are in Facebook, then tend to stay there. They’re disinclined to click a link to your website that takes them out of Facebook. So, if you can’t replicate your website’s functionality in Facebook with a Facebook app–a widget that registers fans for your workshop, or enables them to sign a petition or buy products directly from your Facebook page–you may be disappointed by the number of fans that actually make it over to your corporate website.

There are hundreds of examples of successful Facebook pages that actively engage fans and reflect positively on an organization’s brand. Coca-Cola and Unicef, for example. But, for every success there are thousands of flops. Before you click “Create a Page”, be sure you have a clear understanding of how Facebook will complement your marketing goals and who in your organization will “tend the garden”.