Several stories have appeared in the media this past week about the amount of fake profiles on Facebook (estimated at 83 million out of 955 million users) and the fact that the company’s share price is now 46% percent lower than at listing in May ($20.27 currently vs. $38 initial offering).
These figures cast some doubt over the real effectiveness of advertising and even engaging with the public on Facebook. Does this mean that as a business owner you should or shouldn’t continue to be active on Facebook?
Do you remember Myspace? Do you have a profile on Myspace? Does your business actively engage with customers and potential customers on Myspace? If not, why not?
Prior to 2004 when Facebook was launched and began its rapid growth Myspace was arguably the premier social site. Where is Myspace today? It still exists but was quickly eclipsed by the massive growth in popularity of Facebook. Hard as it seems to believe right now there is a distinct possibility that the Facebook growth cycle will eventually run its course and it may not always be the largest and most powerful social media presence in the world. The same applies to Twitter and indeed any particular platform that currently exists or may exist in the future.
Consumer tastes change over time so it makes sense to ensure that your company’s social media strategy is flexible enough to change direction and engage with users wherever they may flock to over time.
Many web terms have fishing overtones to them (e.g. online, Internet) so I like to use this analogy when suggesting an online and social media strategy to businesses, especially smaller ones. Think of your company website as a fishing boat. Your goal is to “hook” potential clients and bring them back to the boat where you can haul them aboard (conversion) and then take them back to your processing plant (your actual, often offline brick and mortar, business) to turn them into something valuable.
Often in the same stretch of water there are many different types of fish that swim at different depths and will not necessarily take the same bait. To be successful in catching all of the different types it is necessary to set multiple lines at different depths and using different types of bait. In practical terms this means that you use tools like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, your company blog, advertising on sites like Gumtree & Craigslist as different types of “baited line” to appeal to different types of customer.
If a site like Facebook or Twitter were to lose popularity or even close down and your online strategy is focused only on building a following and posting material to these platforms then you would no longer have a strategy or even a significant presence. If instead your online strategy is focused around a website that consists mostly of high-quality well-written content about your business and how it can improve the lives of its customers you can simply change the type of traffic gathering tools you use and target users wherever they have migrated too.
To go back to the fishing analogy – if different types of fish (customer demographic and profile) have entered your waters (marketplace / industry) change bait, set the lines differently and try again. If the fish you are used to catching have migrated to new waters then go to where they are then pull up the anchor and go fish there. It is not usually necessary to rush out and change the boat (website), just the gathering tools.
Remember that your online strategy is exactly that – a strategy for engaging with online users wherever they are to be found. If you have a “Facebook” or “Twitter” strategy then you risk limiting your success to the continued success and popularity of these individual sites.