Why Your Business’ Facebook Page is a Waste of Your Time & Money
Social Networking is all the rage right now. If you’ve got a business, you’ve got to be on Facebook, right? And a Twitter account is a must-have, even if you don’t know how to use it, correct? Oh, and LinkedIn, gotta be there too… oh and Google Plus is growing like crazy… and, and…!
Actually: WRONG! For the most part, if you’re marketing on Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, LinkedIn, etc, etc, you’re wasting your time and money.
Now you’re questioning my sanity and the soundness of wpXPRESS as a company that specializes in online marketing, right? Just hold-on, and hear me out. This article is all about why we don’t suggest social media very often to our clients, and also to help convince you that you’re wasting your time and money on your business’ Facebook page and other forms of social networking marketing. If you enjoy wasting time and money, you can stop reading now.
Social Media Is Wasting Your Time & Money
Oh good, you’re one of the smart ones. Here’s the deal: study after study keeps revealing the same results, that people don’t engage companies on Facebook or other social media outlets. And it’s not just studies either, individual companies go on Facebook, do a big marketing push, look at the results, and pull-back, because they’re getting so little response and results from their efforts and money.
The Hype is Just Hype, Ignore It
Most of the problem is that there’s a lot of hype around social networking marketing. “Everybody knows you have to market on Facebook” is just common knowledge, right? Well common knowledge is often wrong.
In this case (and in much of business), all that matters are the numbers. If you invest 20 hours in Facebook marketing, and you get 1 sale out of it, with a profit of $100 on that sale, you’ve just paid yourself $5/hr. That’s a horrible return. If you invest $1000 in SEO (Search Engine Optimization), spend only 2hrs working with our SEO guys, and sell 50 products at a profit of $100, you just made $4000, or paid yourself $2000/hr. That’s exactly what’s happening. You can make money by marketing on Facebook, Twitter, etc. But for most small businesses, the return on investment (ROI) of time or money is horrible. You’re far more likely to loose time and money, than to grow your business in any significant way.
Let’s look at one example, so you can see what’s happening with the hype, and why so many people have bought into it. Along the right side of this article is a very nice infographic about Facebook from Smart Boy Designs. It makes some really awesome points, right?
- Facebook is the largest publisher of ad impressions!
- Business owners are going to spend lots of money on Facebook and social media campaigns this year!
- 27% engagement if you get in your user’s newsfeed!
- Exposure will surpass the actual reach of your Facebook fans!
Sounds pretty spectacular, right? But think about it:
- It doesn’t matter if Facebook displays more ads to more people, if nobody clicks them (they don’t). And, if you’re not paying for their ads, it means nothing to you.
- Who cares what other businesses are going to do!?! Don’t follow the herd if they’re headed off a cliff.
- 27% engagement doesn’t matter, because it’s not easy to get into a user’s newsfeed. And engagement is a far cry from sales.
- Exposure matters very little, what counts is conversions: people walking into your store, buying your product online, etc.
You Don’t Have to Take Our Word For It
Okay, so even though this kind of stuff is our specialty, maybe we’re wrong. I’ve been wrong before… once. And I’m pretty sure Kurt has been wrong 3 or 4 times… when he was a kid. Joking aside, you don’t have to take our word for it. Check out these articles:
- Jay Baer reviews and explains the statistics from a study that concludes that Americans hate social media promotions. Get it? They hate that your business is trying to get in on their Facebook experience.
- PC Magazine reviews a study that shows that even when people “like” your page, they still don’t engage. So if they don’t interact with your page, visit your store, buy your product, etc., what’s the point?
- Bloomberg tells us how lots of big brands like Gamestop, JC Penney, and Nordstrom, all closed their Facebook stores down. If people won’t buy directly on Facebook, what makes you think they’ll go from Facebook to your website or store, and buy? — added May 16, 2012
- Washington Post is now reporting that carmaker GM will stop advertising on Facebook because it’s “not effective enough.” If GM can throw hundreds of thousands (possibly millions) at it, and it’s still not effective, then for small business owners: “there’s nothing to see here!“
- NPR’s Planet Money helped a local pizza place with their Facebook advertising to see what they could do. They spent $240 in targeted ads, increased their Facebook followers by 200 people, but only made $10. Horrible ROI! — added May 30, 2012
- Search Engine Land has some great graphics and explanation of a recent report that shows both SEO and pay-per-click far outweigh social media when it comes to generating leads. Their graphic is below:
We know much of this was true from our own experience. And I’d like to publicly apologize to all my friends and family who had to put up with me promoting my business on Facebook when I first started full-time. Sorry all. That was that one time I was wrong about something.
Why All the Hype?
So if it’s not true, why does it seem to be almost common knowledge? It’s really quite simple: a lot of people like to jump on new things. They did that with social media. Many invested their time and money learning how to do social media marketing because they thought it was “the next big thing.” Now they want a return on their investment. But they can’t make any money, unless people believe it’s “the place to be.” If they told the real story, nobody would want to buy their services.
Everyone from individuals calling themselves “social media gurus”, all the way up to large companies like Facebook, stand to loose a lot of money if you know the truth. So, all this hype you hear may be true, but if you take a minute to look at what their claims really mean, you’ll see the story is very different. Social media marketing is a waste of your business’ resources.
Hopefully you’re convinced that you should stop wasting your time and/or money on social media marketing. However, you should know there are some exceptions to this rule. I can’t think of any, but I’ll let you know when I do….
Just kidding. Here’s the exceptions:
- Personalities: Authors, artists, athletes and other personalities are the main exception I know of. If you’re a book author (a couple of our clients are), or a music artist, or otherwise a personality where your fans need ways to connect with you, Facebook, Twitter, Google+, etc are great ways to connect with your fans. You can interact with them and build up a following that will respond when you ask them to. Why is this different than a business page or account? Because it’s more personal. People get on Facebook for the personal interaction. They don’t want to interact with a business, but they’ll interact with an author/artist/athlete that they love.
- YouTube: if you can afford to produce awesome videos that people will want to watch, this can be an extremely good ROI. But, you’ve got to produce extremely good content, that people will keep coming back for. Orabrush (watch their excellent “story of” video) and the Piano Guys are two very good examples of this. Both have gone from small and local to huge and national through very good YouTube content.
- Communicating: Facebook, and especially Twitter and Google+ can be excellent ways to communicate with your clients. Don’t try to sell new products, just pass on information to your clients. Speaking of, you should follow us on Facebook, or Twitter, or Google+ so that we can keep up to date on issues your site might have, if we’ve made updates to your site, etc.
We hope you find this useful, and that it will save you some time and money. If any of this ever changes, we’ll definitely let you know.
I think specifically about the “like”, “+1” function. What will a bunch of thumbs up really do for my sales? For example: walmart has something like 5 million likes on FB. does that really affect their sales? Will I see that a bunch of my friends have “liked” walmart, and think- maybe i should give it a try? the answer is an obvious no.
However, when I see on twitter that a store i follow is offering a 15% off deal if i show the tweet when i shop in the store, heck yeah that works!?
Yeah you can “like” all you want and purchase nothing from the business or engage in anything meaningful, that’s exactly what I do there all day long……..
I recently had a long discussion about this article on G+ and thought I’d share my blog post about this subject. I would have linked back to this page but I’m afraid it may have damaged my business a little. 🙂
very good. i love people who can turn the sheep around.
I’m surprised there haven’t been more people jumping in to take the other side…but here goes:
1) It sounds to me like you are talking primarily about the ROI of paid advertising via social media channels in order to sell stuff, and that you are concluding that social media is a waste of money because people don’t click through from social media to buy stuff. To date that seems to be true. However, I don’t think that’s the best way for businesses to use social media.
2) What’s harder to measure is the word of mouth value of social media. Every single day among my 500ish Facebook friends I see people asking “Does anyone know a good plumber in west Los Angeles?” “We need a new car, what should we be looking at?” “Where should we eat dinner for our anniversary in Brooklyn?” Etc. When a business is active in social media, and its customers/fans can point friends to that business, and the friend can then learn about the business from looking at the content and interactions on its Facebook page or Twitter profile…you get the point. When I tag my plumber in response to a friend’s inquiry, and the plumber says “Hey Jane, sorry your drain is clogged, we can have someone there this afternoon – message us your phone number and address” – that’s a very good use of social media. Of course, this requires the plumber to be monitoring all the time, because three days later that same offer won’t be very useful.
3) More on the word of mouth thing: My teenage son asks his friends on Facebook which movies to see, which video games to buy, where to eat, etc. He is one of millions of people who care what their friends think and take advantage of the ease of social media to solicit their opinions. My kid does not know how to make a purchase decision without polling his friends online. Will that be happening on Facebook by the time he’s 25? Maybe yes, maybe no – but I am quite sure it will be happening somewhere, because it’s ingrained learned behavior for an entire generation (or three).
4) I am hearing more and more people say “I try to do business with companies that are on social media. If they’re not on Facebook, I assume they’re not serious about their business.” The last time I heard that it was from a middle-aged woman who held out without a mobile phone longer than any of my other friends – a true Luddite. Now that she sees the benefits of being able to connect with businesses via social media, she’s a convert.
When I talk to small businesses about the benefits of social media, I tell them it’s a long-term investment in customer relationships. It’s the traditional know –> like –> trust –> recommend spectrum. They won’t give you their money or tell their friends to give you their money until they feel that relationship.
Plus there’s the “get found” benefit – social media profiles are indexed by search engines and almost always come up on the first page of search results when someone is searching for you.
If anyone is interested in more on this topic (and yes, I consider myself an evangelist, you are forewarned), you might like this post I wrote recently for the Deluxe Small Business Blog: http://deluxesmallbizblog.com/uncategorized/should-dry-cleaners-ignore-social-media-no-way/
Disclaimer: I have been developing social online products/environments and helping businesses connect with customers and prospects online for two decades, so clearly I have drunk the Kool-Aid. I currently head the social media services group at Deluxe Corporation (yes, the check company – we have a large division that provides online marketing services to small businesses), which means I have a vested interest in my POV outlined above.
This sounds like an old school marketer who didn’t get an invite to the party to me. Not understanding the different ways social media can bring value and even residual ROI to small businesses is more of a reflection on your misconceptions than the perceived failure of a multi-billion dollar industry.
The first goal with social media for small businesses is creating brand awareness. This is not meant to replace SEO services, but rather compliment blogging efforts and help businesses push content further than their own site and search engines. As we’ve seen over the past 6 months, social graph or social search has become a huge focus for both social media channels as well as consumers. To ignore this would be like ignoring Google in 2004, or the internet in the 90’s.
I noticed this page’s Facebook page only has 72 Likes on FB and maybe that’s a contributing factor to not understanding the value of building a following, but I think you’d feel differently if you had someone like me building your following and flooding your email with new customer requests for services because of something they saw on Facebook. 🙂
Charles, if you’d like to prove me wrong by running a social media campaign for us for free, I’d be happy to write a retraction if the numbers prove me wrong. You’d not only get the exposure and SEO of that retraction, but probably make us loyal customers as well…. But only IF resulting numbers do in fact prove me wrong, by providing quantifiable results that would justify your fees in the future.
Also, the one thing most people who take issue with this post seem to be missing, is I didn’t say social is totally worthless. I said paying money to run Facebook ads or pay social marketers to manage your Facebook page (and other social accounts) will almost always cost you more than it’s worth, as the examples illustrate. However, as I outlined in my exceptions at the end, there are ways to use social that can be beneficial to small businesses and justify the time and money ROI.
Charles you got owned by Tevya you haven’t replied lol
No one got owned Paul.
He asked me to run a campaign for them for free to prove them wrong. But I run a business doing just that every single day with dozens of clients.
In fact, I’ve stopped doing any social media activities for our team because we simply can’t handle all of the business yet. We run solely on referrals from clients who found us on Facebook, Yelp, and Twitter.
But thanks 🙂
Paul was right. Why not take the challenge and prove Mr.T wrong? He said he would become a loyal customer. LOL! I love how folk brag but offer no proof to back it up their claims. Admit it, you got owned. LOL!
In a way, this post got me pretty excited. When I look at most twitter feeds or Facebook pages, especially when business is involved, then they devolve into mindless drivel or obvious ploys that no one wishes to see like “We’ve got a new blog post – come check it out at “. When I think about that kind of pointless spam advertising, not only does it not provide much value for the subscriber but personally I think it’s kind of miserable constantly updating pages with those kinds of links too frequently. When it comes to youtube channels and actual personalities truly interacting with their viewership on those social media channels, the difference appears to be “Do this videos or posts provide value to viewers/readers?” If the answer is no then it seems to be a waste of time not only for them but also for you.
I believe after reading this and Steve Pavlina’s post at http://www.stevepavlina.com/blog/2014/07/social-media-you-got-dumped/ that I will close down social pages unless they serve a REAL function like Youtube but I will leave the share buttons alone so that people who really liked any of my content may share it if they choose.
Honestly – what’s more valuable to people, 4 hours put into new and original content or 4 hours or crafting clever messages for Facebook, Google+, Twitter, etc that anyone who really wanted to could find out through an rss feed or bookmarking your site. Just my two cents and I’d love to see more concrete information one way or another that these kinds of things work or don’t.