I came across a vlog tonight basically saying that businesses should ignore social media and just focus on their own domain — http://www.yourbusiness.com. Of course, you all know me — I love social media, and I use it as a marketing tool to help small businesses and nonprofits achieve their goals. Since I know that many of you have heard some of the things he says in the video, and probably have questions, I decided to write about my thoughts.
One of the first things that made me say, “Hey!” was the statement that Facebook did not give customers notice about the change in the width of business pages. Facebook did, in fact, give notice to customers about the change. I got my notice about two or three weeks before the change, giving OSC plenty of time to redesign our clients’ default tabs. Each person using a page had a yellow box at the top of their screen saying that on such-and-such a date, Facebook would be decreasing the width by about 200 pixels.
Although I definitely agree that all businesses should have a permanent web address, I do not recommend that people set up personal profiles instead of business pages. There are many things a business page can do that a personal page can’t, such as: having a default tab and adding extra tabs that you can customize with HTML and CSS (think a welcome tab with information about your business, and a tab for coupons only those who are a fan of your page can receive!), having a discussions forum and reviews section, adding a Constant Contact tab so that your customers can sign up for your mailing list right from Facebook, and a whole laundry list of other great features.
Yes, it’s a drag that Facebook changes things frequently (and yes, sometimes without notice), but for the most part, the things they offer for business pages have remained the same, and I still urge people to have a business page. It is not a “fad” when people expect to find your business on Facebook so that they can become of a fan of it or like it. If you’re not in the game and your core market is on Facebook, you’re missing out on potential customers.
Furthermore, fans, followers, friends — they are not the property of the different social networks; they are still your customers. Businesses should not ignore social media and just stick to their websites, considering sites like YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook are being used as search engines more and more, and are a great way to
- build up organic SEO, and
- give your customers and prospective customers a way to find you and interact with you aside from your website.
Aside from having at least one social networking account for your business, you should also have an on-site blog in addition to your site’s other content so that people will continue to come back to your site. Your social media will, in turn, link back to your blog, building up yet more organic SEO, and giving customers a reason to keep coming back to your site.
Of course, Facebook is not for everyone, but there are plenty of other social networking sites that will work for your specific business. Social media is here to stay, and we small businesses and nonprofits benefit greatly from the (free!) tools that help us spread our products and messages even further.
Have a question about social media? Leave a comment and ask me, or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Elizabeth K. Barone is a social media marketing consultant — what a mouthful! — web designer, and writer. She likes writing To Do lists on white boards, playing Sims, reading, and helping small businesses and nonprofits achieve their goals.