Maybe “300,000,000” — the recently-announced number of Facebook users — represents some kind of tipping-point, because in recent weeks I’ve had more frequent conversations with marketers about “what to do about” the popular social network.
These conversations have evolved from, “Oh, Facebook is for college kids,” to “People 35–and-over are the fastest demographic on Facebook,” to “Whatever else you wanna say about it … 300 million is a big number.” So that’s how the question now becomes “what to do about” Facebook.
First off, as always, if your customers and prospects are not on Facebook, there’s no need to blow-out some expensive approach. Beware of Shiny Object Syndrome. But with 300 million users, the odds that your stakeholders don’t hang out on Facebook at all are dwindling.
But here’s the trouble with Facebook: it’s a proprietary network. Yes, the Gods of Facebook have made it easier to find your branded page via Google. Yes, they’ve made it easier to find your content from within the network. But notice how these initiatives have aided Facebook, more than you? The SEO effect for your www.company.com domain is nominal. By participating on Facebook you are potentially directing traffic from your www domain to Facebook’s domain instead. That’s Problem #1.
Problem #2 with this very popular, proprietary network is that the rules change pretty frequently, and are too-often not well-thought-out. And there’s little the average Corporate Marketer can do about it.
One of the reasons the Web flourished from Day One? There were no capricious overlords mucking about: for as much as we sometimes bemoaned its Wild West nature in the early days, the Web’s unilateral anarchy allowed best practices to emerge organically. The million dollars you spent on a Facebook Page could be thrown out the window. Sorry, it’s in the Terms of Service.
I am not trying to warn marketers off of Facebook. Not at all. I am suggesting that this network represents an “alternate reality” on the Web, with a separate rule-set and risks.
Our general advice to clients is to NOT spend a fortune on designing Facebook pages that could change at any time, at Facebook’s whim. Instead, when marketing on Facebook we tend to advocate for a lightweight, low-cost approach to community-building plus a nuanced blend of outreach campaigns, widgets, advertising, contests, etc. that would appeal to and empower the Facebook community, and ideally drive traffic from Facebook to the client’s official web domains.
Got a different point of view? Lemme know!
Posted on: September 21, 2009 at 12:05 pm By Todd Defren