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Small Business: The Three Fallacies of Facebook

“Facebook is great for business”, they say. Well that all depends. Depends on product, time and money. I don’t think that a small business should be wasting it’s time or money. There are so many other things they could be doing.  Besides, most are run by 1 to 5 people, just how much time is there in a day to run a Facebook page properly? Can you really afford to employ someone to do it?

Facebook has been trying to get more small businesses to use it’s pages but is it really worth it?

Fallacy number one

“Facebook is good for small business – it will drive sales and more!”

Oh really? How much time does it take the average business person to create a great looking page? It could take a very long time if they don’t have the skills. And it does need to look good simply because of the competition, there are thousands of pages. So they may opt for a designer, someone to create an enticing cover picture. Can a small business afford it?

When a page is setup, most small businesses are fooled into thinking it will drive sales. Did you know that on average only 16% of fans will see a pages update? Take a page that has 1000 fans, at most only 160 fans will see it. Normally that number is going to be much less. Of those 160, how many will follow through to make a purchase?

You could compare banner adverts to status updates. As the stats for click through rates of updates is hard to find it seems like a fair choice to illustrate my point.

Lets take some numbers from DigiDay (15 Alarming Stats About Banner Ads)…

Even with a much more generous percentage rate, it’s still going to be single figure that is visiting your site before they actually buy!

Now add up the cost of getting a great Facebook page created and the time you have spent doing each update. Can a small business really afford it?

Fallacy number two

“Well if I can’t make sales at least I can increase brand awareness”

Have you any idea just how much money the big brands spend on advertising? Yes millions and millions. Some of that does get spent on Facebook. Why, is it to make people buy? It’s to make sure that the brands don’t get forgotten. Take Coca Cola for example. They have 62million likes on Facebook. No one is really buying a drink of the page. They want to ensure that when you go out to buy a drink that you will remember the brand and buy it. Besides, they have already realised that there are no short term benefits to Faceook.

Will this work for small business? If you have 62 million likes then yes it will. Will it work for a 1000 likes?

Fallacy number three

“I’ll tell all my friends about my page and it will just take off from there…”

It has been calculated that on average each user has around 234 friends. If each one of them was influential over someone else then you can double that figure. Still a long way from 1000 Likes.

I’m not saying it’s not worth it, what I am trying to say is that the effort required by a small business to establish a working page is just to much. Especially when there are much better ways.

The heart of the problem

The trouble with Faceook is that people are lazy. They read an update and then skip to the next. So the question is, does Facebook really generate targeted traffic?

It takes a click to visit the page and another to go on to the website that’s linked. You have to stand out, be noticed and attract attention. Big companies do it with competitions, just like Coca Cola. They offer unique items linked to the brand.

Facebook is great for marketing, brand awareness and it will drive sales – if you already have a very successful business and can afford it.

About the author, Bob Toovey - I have been active on the Internet since 1998, a blogger/writer since 2006 and started dabbling with programming when I got my first Sinclair ZX81. I love to blog about social media, marketing and food. You can find me on Google+, LinkedIn and Twitter