Eavesdrop on any marketing meeting these days and you’ll likely hear the typical buzz about how Client X needs to be on Facebook and Client Y needs to start blogging. Unsavvy marketers trumpet the tune and their eager clients sing back-up. Social media, usually in the forms of Facebook pages and company blogs, is the knee-jerk solution to almost any marketing challenge and part of nearly every marketing plan.
But do all businesses need a presence on Facebook? Does every company need to consistently engage with customers through a blog?
I don’t think so.
Much of the energy around social media is in response to its newness and our eagerness to not miss out on its potential. As a result, we all rush to the same shiny new toolbox.
If you’re considering exploring social media, or reconsidering how valuable your current efforts really are, here are five reasons why it might be okay to be Facebook-free and blog-silent.
1. Brand loyalists don’t equal brand evangelists.
Most companies follow the same line of logic when considering the influence of Facebook. They assume that users of their product or service will:
- Love it so much that those positive associations will spill over into their general online activity
- Translate those positive associations specifically into Facebook Likes or fan page activity
- Become brand evangelists who actively attract new customers
Now, while this logic may hold true in some instances for some companies, it shouldn’t be assumed. Consumers who are satisfied with your product or service may be loyal to you, but there’s a big difference between being loyal to a particular brand and actively advocating for it online with friends and family.
2. Facebook is great for reaching broad audiences, but not niche markets.
I often characterize Facebook as a broad brush, when most businesses need a Sharpie. Sure, Facebook has global reach, but does your business need to appeal to a global audience or to a highly-engaged niche market? With about 1 billion members worldwide, using Facebook to reach your business’ particular market is something akin to painting a billboard on the side of an orbiting satellite and hoping that the right people see it at just the right time.
3. Facebook connects people with people, not people with brands.
Facebook works best when it does what it was designed to do—connect people with people.
As a tool for connecting people with companies and brands, it’s less effective. Companies who actively post on Facebook run a very real risk of interfering with the primary people-to-people nature of Facebook and having that interference compromise their marketing goals. Maintaining the delicate balance between, “we’re here and we’d like to engage with you when you’re ready” and “here we are again, please remember us!” takes insight and skill. For most small businesses, the risk/reward ratio just doesn’t make sense.
4. An untended blog is a negative advertisement.
Like Facebook, blogs are best when leveraged in the right way. Companies that start blogging without a clear strategy do themselves a disservice; blasting sales-focused content too frequently alienates existing customers and turns off potential customers. An effective blog is one that truly engages with their audience, promotes discussion, and offers qualitative insights to their product, service or industry. Companies that can’t devote proper resources to a blog should embrace the mantra “Silence is golden.”
5. Public feedback cuts both ways.
Companies that encourage participation through their blogs, or active commenting through Facebook, should realize that negative comments are just as likely as neutral or positive ones. For small businesses that don’t have the resources to actively monitor their social media tools, it may be best to not enter the fray in the first place. In some cases, the potential negative impact combined with a relatively low ROI may make some social media avenues not worth wandering down.
In the end, any social media tool should be viewed objectively and realistically—as a potentially constructive or destructive influence. Rushing to launch a company blog, or create multiple fan pages on Facebook often undermines the legitimate connections businesses aspire to make with people. Without a solid strategy, resources, time and a bit of finesse, it might make business sense to stay radio-silent on social media.
Kentin Waits is a freelance writer and marketing specialist based in Portland, Ore.. His work has been featured in US Airways magazine and top-rated blogs such as Wise Bread, the Consumerist, and MSN SmartMoney. When he's not writing, Kentin runs a small online antiques business.
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