Thursday, February 25, 2016

Who Needs Facebook?

According to Pew’s 2015 report on social media, 72% of US internet users – that's 62% of adults in the US - are on Facebook. The majority of Facebook users use it daily. According to PR firm Burson-Marsteller, 87% of United Nation member countries are on Facebook. So is the POTUS.

Yet, I still get “the look” when I tell some small-medium sized business owners, “you should be on Facebook.”
 “Yeah. I know,” the principle often says, sometimes shrugging and adding almost apologetically, “my wife says that.”
(Yes, I'm serious. I really have heard that. But I digress.)

“I Don’t Need a Facebook Page; I Have a Website”

Years ago, when I first encouraged some friends and business owners to create a business page, they weren’t all sold on the idea. 
“People get their news from Facebook,” I’d say.
“I know, but they’re not looking to me for news,” they’d say.
“That’s true, but you need to be in the room," I’d reply. 
“It just seems like a waste of time,” they’d say.
“It certainly can be,I’d agree. “But the effort will pay off.”
 “I don’t think it’s worth it,” they’d say, nearing exasperation. “Especially since _(I don’t have anything to sell/I’m not a celebrity/I have a website/insert other reason here)_.”
That's when I’d nod agreement and repeat, “you need to be in the room.”

Very Comfortable Virtual Gathering Space 
POTUS dancing says he's on Facebook
Facebook is a room where the conversation is always in full swing, where users visit day and night, ask their friends whether they'd recommend certain plumbers, find out a favorite former teacher recently passed on, and catch up with far-flung family members. It’s very social and in that atmosphere, our guard is just a little bit relaxed. 
We’re looking for advice. 
We’re asking for recommendations.
In that room, the conversation is flowing and we’re receptive
So, sure - you don't need to be on Facebook. I mean, what business needs a friendly, receptive forum in which to share its message? 

Just How Nice is Your Website? 

Of course, when Facebook users search for your business and don’t find your Facebook Page, they may look for your website.  Or they may not, if a similar business pops up in their feed, and that page appeals to them…I think the business term for that is "lost opportunity."

Now, assuming said user goes off to find your website, well – when they find it, it better be good. 

Because for Facebook users (remember, that's 62% of adults in the US) the medium shapes their expectations. Facebook is a friendly, engaging, comfortable place.
Newsflash: most websites aren’t.
So, when Facebook users encounter clunky, less-than-responsive websites, “yuck” is a pretty common response. And “yuck” dramatically increases bounce rates.
So yes, Virgil/Virginia, your business really does need a Facebook page. Even in 2016, when Facebook is reportedly “over.” (Just ask Fox News if there’s any value in it.) 

Facebook Maturing, Young Audience Returning

Some of the more adamant “I don’t think I need Facebook” folks will toss out the “common knowledge” that Facebook is no longer popular, and cite a stat about the droves of young people who no longer use it.
Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Snapchat and other forums have each taken a turn as the rising star of social media. It's not Facebook's turn. Been there, done that. Snapchat is the undeniable winner right now for reaching young (tween, even more so than teen) audiences. But there is plenty of anecdotal evidence and empirical data suggesting that Facebook has serious staying power.
 Remember those rascally teens who jumped onto Facebook, then departed when their parents showed up en masse? They’re back.

Facebook Group pages are one reason. Colleges and universities are among the many organizations using group pages to reach young adults – whether it’s professors posting that classes have been cancelled or clubs sharing internship opportunities; as kids get older, there are new attractions to the original social network. Many professional organizations use Facebook groups to share news - a la LinkedIn, but with a more interactive nature (and much better photo sharing capabilities). And let's not forget, Facebook is fun. A Facebook group page is an almost-perfect collaborative tool grads can use to plan a High School reunion. (So, if you’re a banquet hall or bar owner, and you don't have a page, you might want to get started it. Now.) 

The return of older teens/young adults has inspired several new apps designed to clean up some of those teenage indiscretions on Facebook. Because the kids who signed up in ‘04 and ’05 are now …drumroll please… entering the workforce. And as Mark Zuckerberg’s sister has said, “even the most incompetent HR manager can find and judge you based on your Facebook profile.”

And if that’s not proof that you and your business should find your way to (or back to) Facebook, what is?
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Two things I should tell you:  This post originally appeared on LinkedIn. And I manage Facebook pages for business clients. Get in touch with me here, on my website, or via Twitter.

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