In the early days of the Internet, dot com boom had taken the world by storm. Every brand felt the need to have a website. The link to the website was flaunted on visiting cards and hoardings on the street. Brands took pride in the number of site views.
That was the time when brands dictated the online world. While consumers spoke to the wall and there was no platform where they could share their grievances. Morever, most brands chose to ignore the consumer sentiments online.
Then, the tables turned. A Harvard drop out gave us Facebook. Twitter and other platforms followed. Suddenly there was a newfound freedom to speak. The brand dictatorship had fallen; online democracy was on the rise, "people power" they called it. The power of a thousand consumers talking negatively about a brand online could easily take it down and mar its reputation.
And it did happen. Consumers took to blogs and Twitter to collate their thoughts and share it with others. It did not take long to spread the word, especially the negative sentiments.
The static internet era has now become an interactive one. Brands and consumers find themselves on the same level, and facing each other. There is no barrier to disconnect the two. Soon, brands realized they had nowhere to run. They could either choose not to be online at all or be online & face their audience.
Over 955 million Internet users reside on Facebook alone. Millions of conversations take place every second across all the networking sites. How could brands not consider an online presence?
Facebook is certainly more than keeping a tab on what’s on the mind of your friends and family. Facebook is the hub for the social media plan for most of the businesses. Having said that, is it necessary for every brand to be on Facebook?
The main reason for any brand to be online is to engage and interact with its customers. People deal with people. Facebook is the easiest marketing tool for any brand.
Let us look at what Facebook offers your business
- Facebook features make sharing much easier. Facebook pages are well equipped to replicate an entire website to form a company page. A brand can share content related to brand history, create awareness and engage audience. If the brand can use the pages features to their benefit, their content will find its way on the Timelines of its users.
- Facebook can be a good platform for social commerce. A lot of online retail brands use Facebook as a medium to sell product directly by creating a shopping platform. Brands also use Facebook as a means to provide customer care. No matter what product or service you offer, Facebook can be moulded to suit the needs of a brand.
- Facebook can act as a brand’s strong hold. Build a community of relevant people, engage them, reward them and get them on your side. With the help of engaging content and problem solving skills, a brand can win the loyalty of the customers. If the sentiment of the community is positive towards the brand, consumers will appreciate the efforts and spread the good word around.
- Facebook is an excellent platform to drive traffic to your website. It may not be your primary platform to market yourself; it may simply be a knowledge hub or a place for conversations or customer service. Whatever the purpose of Facebook, if you have enough fans you can always drive the traffic to your desired destination.
- Facebook allows social integration. Which means you can connect your Website, Blog, Twitter, YouTube, Slideshare etc to your page. This will help inform your audience about your presence across several platforms and direct accordingly. Simultaneously the activities happening on other platforms can be used as content on your Facebook page. For instance, if you publish a new post on your blog, an update will automatically reach your Facebook audience.
- The world has moved on from Google Adsense to Facebook ads. If you know your audience profile on Facebook, you can easily launch a Facebook sponsored ads campaign to rope in desired users on to your Facebook page. Once the audience is on your page, it is up to you to play your cards right.
If your brand plans on exploring the online market, Facebook should be a part of your social media strategy. Depending on the nature of your business, it may form the centre of the strategy or as a supporting platform. In either cases, Facebook offers enough positives that a business can leverage one way or the other.
Now, let us look at some reasons why Facebook may not be your first choice
If your business is B2B
If you are a small business on a tight budget, you may want to consider a few things. For instance, managing a Facebook page requires commitment towards engaging content, exhilarating creatives and innovative campaigns. You will need dedicated resources and structured finances to leverage Facebook effectively. But for a B2B brand, Facebook may not have much to offer. On the contrary, you can dedicate the same resource and finances to LinkedIn to boost your business.
If your audience is out of reach
Let's say you are a brand selling PV grids that create electricity from solar energy. Your audience is in the rural areas where they face major electricity crises. Your objective is to bring electricity in these areas and educate them on how sustainable energy can be used for their benefit. There is no way Facebook will help you reach this audience. Obviously, the audience is not online. Your best bait is to target influencers in renewable energy, or facility managers and electrical engineers. You can easily reach out to them on LinkedIn or Twitter.
Oh well, you can go ahead and use Facebook to educate people on how electricity crisis affects the progress in rural areas. You can carry out an initiative to save electricity. But that is as far as you can go when it comes to Facebook.
If you are targeting influencers only
If your audience is niche, it is better to ask yourself two questions.
- Where to find them?
- How to engage them?
The answer to the first question is - not on Facebook. Facebook works best if your brand is for everyone, for instance an entertainment channel, or sports equipment dealer. Facebook also works best if you have some strong spending power.
Niche audience such as Travel writers, Tech bloggers, Food enthusiasts or Fashion writers can be found in different places. Food enthusiasts and Fashion writers may be more active on Pinterest while Travel and Tech writers may be more active on twitter and blogs. Your brand needs to be in the place where your influencers are.
You are here to only promote
If your objective is to sell, sell and only sell, you better take your business someplace else. The art of promoting business is not spamming your audience with product details. If your communication is going to be one way, your fans are going to head for the exit. Engaging with the audience is one way to win their loyalty. And loyalty boosts sales.
Presence on Facebook will not harm any brand’s business. The purpose of your presence on Facebook can be as simple as engaging with audience to spreading the word about your brand. To sum it up, Facebook can be used by any brand. How much it actually benefits your business really depends on where Facebook fits in your social media strategy.
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