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The Emperor’s New Likes – facebook marketing for small business

June 20, 2014

“Can you get me more of those?”  Yes we can but.... “How long will it take to get to a thousand?”  It will take a while but.... “My competitor has got 300 more than me, how come?” Well there are lots of factors but.....


Ok, so the above is a sample of how many of our conversations with new clients start.  We specialise in marketing for small business. Have you guessed what these clients are talking about?  

Facebook Likes of course.


Somewhere along this 25 year journey from Tim Berners-Lee at CERN to the magical, mystical land of Cloud, it became ingrained within the corporate psyche that an organisations stature could be gauged by its likes and the key aspect of online marketing was to create more likes.


So, is it really worth chasing likes for your business?

Firstly, remember that your Facebook page does not belong to YOU.   It belongs to FACEBOOK.  They have been kind enough to let you use their wonderful platform to create your own beautiful page, full of aesthetic beauty – well, beauty in the sense of an exact replica of your competitors but with different images.  Facebook have the ultimate control over who sees your posts.  Facebook – well, their Edgerank algorithm – decide who sees what you post.  You can spend a €10,000 marketing budget running competitions and creating 10,000 likes, but still you cannot guarantee these ‘fans’ will see your posts.  Upon a whim, Facebook could decide tomorrow that nobody will see your page or posts.

The argument from Facebook is that they must ensure that peoples feeds are interesting and do not include masses of promotional rhetoric.  This is valid but also convenient, as it ensures that companies will pay Facebook for publicity rather than paying competitors and other media to generate likes.

We already knew that page posts for small business had reduced dramatically, and according to Edgerank Checker http://tinyurl.com/q2kkdjo as of 21st January 2014 reach has decreased by a further 40%, down from a poor 18% to a miserly 11%.  That is 1 in 10 of your hard earned fans seeing your posts.


And we must then consider the value of your likes.   If you are an appliance retailer and you ran a “like and share to win tickets to a Manchester United football match” the likelihood is that you have lots of likes from people who are fanatical about Manchester United, but show very little interest in your latest washing machine.  We cannot put this into a percentile but you get my drift.  Your 11% reach is not awaiting your next post on fridge shelves with baited breath.


As a counter balance.........

Facebook is still our first port of call when looking to push products and services to potential clients.  The advertising structure and demographics are second to none, and the prices extremely competitive.  But spend your budget getting connections to your business, not to facebook likes, as this interesting video from Veritasium demonstrates: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oVfHeWTKjag

Likes should still be encouraged, a natural evolution of interested potential clients.  By targeting those who are keen to engage, this may give you less likes, but a stronger Edgerank and a genuine community.  Quite simply, less is more.


But remember that your Facebook page is Facebook’s Facebook page, so channel your community through your website and that wonderful old beast who is set for a come-back – email.  But that is another story for another day.

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