Your Small Business Needs Facebook

I recently had a conversation with a client where the topic turned to social media. “Jayson,” he said, “Facebook is great and all, but it’s just not for us. I don’t feel like our target audience is there, and even if they are they’re more interested in viewing photos of their family members across the country or playing games. Besides, our goal is to get our audience to our website where we have the control.”

Ouch. Unfortunately my client made two assumptions about social media that could have killed his business. The sad part is that they’re not uncommon assumptions and every day plenty of small business owners miss out on marketing to an audience 800 million users strong because they think Facebook is only for sending messages and killing time.

Fatal Mistake #1: “Our target demographic isn’t on Facebook.”

This statement is even expanded regularly to say, “Our target demographic isn’t online.” But, numbers don’t lie and the reality is that unless you’re servicing a very specific niche market or trade, your customers are already on Facebook – and if you’re not, you’re missing out on an audience of 800 million and growing.

Many business owners believe that Facebook is a medium driven almost entirely by teens and college age students. While Facebook may have its roots in providing social networking to college students today’s Facebook is far from the simple social networking site Zuckerberg and company originally conceptualized. Here are some powerful statistics small business marketers should consider:

  • 51% of Facebook users are over the age of 30.
    • 53% of Facebook users report an annual income exceeding $57,000 per year.
    • 40% of Facebook users follow a particular brand’s page
    • 51% of those who follow a brand say they have purchased from that brand as a result of Facebook.

Still think Facebook is just for kids and entertainment?

Fatal Mistake #2: “On our website, we have the control.”

Control is an area where marketers have struggled adapting to social media as a medium. To those marketers I say, “Time to shift your thought process.” Today’s web2.0 driven consumers have not only seized control; they’ve reshaped the marketing and advertising industry. Messages are no longer “pushed” to an audience, instead your audience is now “pulling” the messages they choose and spreading them for you. For savvy small business owners/marketers this creates an enormous opportunity to develop a loyal following of brand ambassadors who essentially do your marketing for you. As small business owners we all realize the value of a referral – Facebook consumers are literally your online referral source. Engage them and take care of them and they’ll spread your message further than even the most powerful advertising campaign could.

Additionally, for marketers seeking “control” over the user experience, Facebook is actually an excellent medium. For one, Facebook users spend a great deal of time on the social network. Statistics report that the 41% Facebook users log into their profiles daily and Facebook reports that their average user stays logged in for 55 minutes per visit. That equates to nearly 30 hours per month online. Why am I citing this? Because it goes to show you that Facebook users like the interface, they’re comfortable with it and it’s proving that they prefer to engage brands via this portal.

Furthermore Facebook offers a variety of features that allow you to target your specific audience on their site. From in page apps to targeted advertising features, marketing on Facebook can be a powerful tool. If your number one goal is to capture leads, why force your customers through another step by directing off Facebook (which they love) and to your site (which they are likely unsure of). If you use Facebook for no other reason – think of it as the world’s largest leads capture site and plan your company’s Facebook presence accordingly.

This post wasn’t intended to explain how to market on Facebook. Instead, I simply wanted to take a moment to dispel the common myth that Facebook isn’t for everyone. It is. You wouldn’t walk away from 800 Million customers lining up at your office door… Instead, embrace Facebook for what it is and understand that no matter what your businesses goals are, Facebook can be an excellent medium to help reach your audience and market your company.

Want more information on social media marketing, visit the CookWheelwright facebook page for advice, updates, and resources on the world of online marketing.