With the advent of Facebook Edgerank, it has become increasingly harder for new businesses to grow a community on Facebook without some sort of monetary strategy. Edgerank will favour paid content over free content through a complicated and top secret algorithm. Before, your page’s content may have slipped through the plethora of cat memes and weather complaints, now it probably won’t show up at all.
Even before Facebook had investors breathing down their necks, it was still a hard network to grow a fan base on (unless you were an entity that had real life fans). You would start with your existing friends who may or may not be in your target market. Perhaps manually plead with them to like your page. Then what? Post great content that could potentially show up on your friend’s friends’ feeds. Then what? A contest of some sort to promote likes via other social networks and your website. Then what? Atleast 6 months of consistent and frequent posting of great content would hopefully get you past 1000 likes. One thousand being the magic number where your engagement suddenly switches from a one way conversation to a few likes and one word comments. Essentially, those 1000 likes it took 6 months to a year to cultivate are your friends, family and perhaps a handful of people who came from your website. Your content will only be shown to a very small percentage of these people. So what you’re left with is a sexy yet modest number of likes, that’s all that matters now isn’t it, that is, how many likes your page has? 😐 PS, it should be no big secret that you can buy likes for $5.
Facebook is very much a personal network. It’s for friends and family to keep in touch. It’s to stalk high school girlfriends and see who got engaged. So, if you want your friends and family to know you just started a business, then sure, announce it but there is no guarantee that they will a) like the page and b) buy whatever it is you’re selling.
So why not focus efforts on social networks that can get your brand out to complete strangers. Google Plus, Instagram and Tumblr are great examples of this. With the right hashtags you can engage with the people who would be interested in your brand. Isn’t that who you want to ultimately market to – complete strangers who love what you’re selling?
Having doubted the effects of Instagram for business due to the fact that it’s an exhibitionist’s dream come true, I did not start an account for my start-ups nor did I recommend it to any of my clients. I wasn’t too sure how a business could use instagram other than to make their twitpics or fb photos a bit sexier with the filters.
Over a year, my personal account grew to a modest 500 followers, most of whom I didn’t know. Finally, I decided it was time to test out the theory of Instagram for small business. I started an account, put up a picture with appropriate filters and effects, and threw in a few hashtags. Within the hour, I had 9 likes from complete strangers. Imagine what consistent posting on Instagram with appropriate hashtags, and a cool photo contest could lead to? You would be tapping into a completely new market without even having to bug anyone you know or pay for anything (yet).
If you have a non-existent budget, then its not worth your time to create a Facebook strategy. Your time and effort is better used on other social networks where the audience may be a lot more niche, engaging, and relevant to your brand.
Next week: To be continued: (looking beyond Facebook and Twitter).