Categorized | OPINION

Is Facebook your best friend?

Posted on 04 May 2020 by Tesha Christensen

View from the Messenger

Denis Woulfe has been working for the Monitor and Messenger since her was a college intern from Hamline.

By DENIS WOULFE, Denis@LongfellowNokomisMessenger.com

I’ve seen the world of marketing dramatically change during my years with the Messenger working to help businesses develop the most effective marketing plan. My clients today have many more options to get their messaging about products and services to their client base than they did 20 years ago. Many of our print advertisers also use Facebook and other social media corridors to reach their target audience. Some also have fairly elaborate websites which provide valuable information about their business operation and its mission.
Is Facebook a business owner’s best friend? Yes, Facebook can be a great tool for a business owner but sometimes businesses may not be aware of the obstacles that exist to really reach your target audience. For one, if you are familiar with the Facebook algorithm, you know that Facebook has its platform set up such that for most users the posts they see are most likely those of their family and friends. For a business promoting their products on Facebook, they should realize that only 5 to 10% of their followers will see their post through what’s known as organic reach. That’s when a business that has, perhaps, 1200 followers but might reach only 60 to 120 of those followers with any individual post.
As the user of your Facebook account, you can check your reach by looking at any individual post and comparing your followers with your “reach.” If you think that your post is going out to everyone who likes your business, I’m sorry to report that just isn’t happening.
The other reality is that as a business owner, your goal is to bring in new business. Facebook and other social media can be a great tool for reaching your existing fan base, but ultimately you are trying to reach new customers who have never heard of your business. That’s not going to happen if your posts on Facebook about Half Price Burger Night are most likely seen and “liked” by your Mom, your next door neighbor, and your cousin who lives in Chicago. Just because you reach someone or have a follower doesn’t mean that the follower is someone local or someone who can buy your product.
Then there’s the notion that Facebook is free. Let’s face it: if you have to hire someone to manage your social media accounts and put up content, that’s not free. Worse – if you are the owner and spend your days and nights curating your social media accounts, that’s not good either. We all learned the concept of Opportunity Cost in Economics 101, and if you are spending a lot of your time as a business owner on social media, then many other aspects of your business operation are being ignored. Time is money, after all!
Social media, for that matter, can be a mixed blessing as having a Facebook page means that others can post on your site if they have had a bad meal, a bad roofing job, or something else. Once you commit to having that social media presence, you have to be vigilant about monitoring the site and responding to feedback from other posters. Knowing how social media can embolden folks to say things online that they would never say to someone face to face, dealing with the repercussions of negative publicity can be challenging, to stay the least.
I might also add there that not every business lends itself to social media. If you have a restaurant or brewery, you likely have a following who watch for deals online, but if you’re a contractor, or nonprofit, or someone from another industry, your social media site may not be the first place that people look.
Likewise, I also know of some businesses that spend thousands of dollars setting up their websites. Some businesses have updated their websites many times over the years but still don’t have visitors to the site. Again, just because you build it doesn’t mean that people will see it. You need something to draw people to your website and not every business has it.
As I often tell my advertisers, promotion is about getting in front of prospective clients on a regular basis. It’s true that there are often better approaches in advertising–using colorful photos and graphics, having people in your advertising, using quotes, and using approaches that appeal to people’s sense of humor, their compassion, and their humanity. But much of my advertisers’ messaging focuses on encouraging folks to Buy Local and reminding readers that as business owners, they have a stake in Longfellow and Nokomis neighborhoods just like residents do. And my advertisers have also heard me advise this over the years: Repetition, repetition, repetition. Studies suggest that consumers need to see an ad message seven, eight or more times before they actually pull the trigger and make a purchase.
It is, after all, a symbiotic relationship – businesses need residents as patrons and residents need businesses to stabilize their community, contribute to the local tax base, and make their neighborhood have the kind of Walkability Index that is the envy of every other neighborhood. Wouldn’t everyone want to have their coffee shop, their dentist, and their mechanic within walking distance of their home? True, you certainly can “like” your second cousin’s coffee shop in Seattle on Facebook, but you LOVE the coffee shop that’s only 5 minutes from your front door. That’s the beauty of Buying Local!