October 10, 2009

The “I Need a Facebook Page” problem

Posted in Facebook, Social Media at 12:15 pm by SD

According to a recent research study by Citibank Small Business by GFK Roper, three-quarters of small business say they have not found sites such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn helpful for generating business leads or expanding business in the past year. While I don’t know the exact reason for why small businesses aren’t finding their forays into social media successful, I have a hunch that they may be approaching it the wrong way. I like to refer to this as the “I need a Facebook page” problem that is plaguing small businesses across the world.

If I had a dollar for every time, I heard someone say “Our business wants to use social media so we set up a Facebook page,” I would be able to do a lot of shopping. Hearing this statement makes me visibly cringe especially when I ask them if any research has been conducted to see if their customers are using Facebook.

You can have the best Facebook page in the world but if you’re customers aren’t on Facebook, then it is a waste of valuable time and resources.

To all the small businesses out there, before you jump on the Facebook bandwagon, take some time to conduct a little research. And, I don’t mean spending a ton of money on a research study. Simply, ask yourself these critical questions:

1. What audience do I want to engage with online? Is it current customers? What is the demographic profile of this customer?

2. Where does this audience spend time online? Are they frequently using Facebook or Twitter? Are they reading blogs or visiting local social networks such as Yelp?

3. What message do I want to share with this audience?

4. What do I want this audience to do as a result of my business’ presence online?

Only after you have answered these questions, can you begin determining your strategy to engage in the online conversation. By not answering these questions, you are setting your social media campaign up to fail. Avoid the “I need a Facebook page right now” mentality and take the time to do your due diligence to find out where your customers are really spending time online. This approach will allow you to actually engage in the online conversation and be among the 25 percent of small businesses that are finding value from social media.

For some helpful tips on social media for small businesses, check out this Mashable article.

– Shannon

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