To Facebook or not to Facebook?

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Posted In: General Chat 

I was supposed to be outside helping to clip some sheep today (new readers and those of you that are unobservant – I live on a real life farm), but the sheep clipping man has failed to turn up.

I believe the Americans would describe him as having “demons”, and us Brits would describe him as “an alcoholic”, all I know is that it usually takes him until at least 11.30 (am) for the smell of booze to be replaced by the smell of Red Bull, but I digress, on with the blog post.

When I’m not sat behind a computer screen writing moderately offensive things about my farming workforce and wondering to myself if said workforce man is ever likely to buy a computer and read this blog, I provide web design and hosting services to local businesses.

Recently some of these businesses have been asking me about Facebook, they’ve seen the little blue icon everywhere and they want a piece of the action, but what’s the point?

Does a Facebook page really help a business?

*prepare for mass un-researched personal opinion presented as fact*

In my opinion, it depends, and here’s why.

Facebook was (ironically) invented by geeks, a tribe of people known for their lack of social skills, but despite that, they created the biggest socialising medium the world has ever seen. (BOOM, there’s the irony)

It was created as an easy, geek friendly way to keep in touch with class mates and friends through a centralized system, at this point business and marketing had never even been considered, it wasn’t until the Facebook boom that businesses caught on that you could get in touch with potentially millions of people who would be interested in their product with little or no cost, it was at that point that more and more businesses decided to join Facebook.

But joining Facebook and creating a fan page doesn’t equal instant success.

Facebook is still primarily used for it’s original purpose, and as the years have gone by lots of great new features have been added to make it more accessible for people, whose primary goal is to keep in touch with friends and relatives. For example, here’s what the majority of people use Facebook for:

1. Impressing your friends with your amazing sense of humor, despite having clearly copy/pasted the joke from elsewhere.

corrections happen all the time when I'm writing blog posts

2. “Checking in” to cool places with other people, to make people sat at home on Facebook feel jealous of your coolness and popularity, not only do you go places, but you feel the need to tell people where you’ve been.

it's the taking part, and how many crashes you can cause that counts

3. Taking pictures of yourself in situations you believe will make you seem more attractive and desirable to the opposite sex.

when it's hot, I dress accordingly

4. Showing everyone what a great sense of humor you have by liking amusing things that other people have written.

oh how I laughed....at what some other person had written

5. Flirting with Crystal St ‘Clare

Crystal is shy and doesn't want her picture to appear on my blog

6. Trying to convince people that your taste in music is better than theirs by posting links to countless Youtube videos.

When I grow up, I want to be Bruce Springsteen

It’s all very vain, mindless, and shallow, but nobody cares, because it’s all a bit of fun, you go on Facebook and you can turn your brain off and relax. That’s what Facebook is good for.

When you are on Facebook “doing your thing”, do you really want to know that Joe the local window cleaner has just “cleaned one of the biggest windows I’ve ever seen, it was banging”, or that Mary the local Baker just made an exceptionally nice batch of pies….bad example, I probably would want to know that.

But my point is kind of in there somewhere, people don’t log onto Facebook to see what a local business is doing.

If you run a business (and I do, so I can relate to this) it does tend to rule your life somewhat, you are passionate about it and want to tell people about it, but in reality do the people on Facebook really care?

A real life example for you, one of the companies I work with designs bespoke furniture, and they’ve just created a Facebook fan page. Now how often are you likely to buy a new sofa, once every 4 or 5 years maybe. When you walk into the showroom to check out the sofas, that’s what you are concentrating on, your mission for the next few hours is to buy a sofa, but once it’s bought, that’s it. Is the customer going to get any benefit from “Liking” the company on Facebook and having to put up with their Sofa related status updates for the next 4 – 5 years, I doubt it.

However, it’s not just local businesses that are on Facebook, all the big multi-national’s are on there as well. Look what I found just this morning whilst I was having my breakfast:

The problem is the taste too good.....and have a nasty habbit of getting bits stuck in your teeth

Now I like Crunchy Nut Cornflakes as much as the next man, but what would be the purpose of “liking” them on Facebook? Would all of my friends see that I liked Crunchy Nut Cornflakes and suddenly have an urge to go buy some?

I tried to find out more information on what the purpose of the Crunchy Nut Cornflakes facebook page was all about, but when I clicked on the link it didn’t work:

touch screen fail

McDonalds are at it was well, in the past 2 weeks I’ve “liked” every Mc* there is, but after “liking” the page, absolutely nothing, so what’s the point of them spending money on a team of boffins to put together a Facebook page that will serve no benefit to me, and ultimately them? I’m starting to think it all must be part of a masterplan and it’s going way over my head.

Not all Facebook pages for businesses are pointless though, another of my offline clients actually uses it to very good effect. He’s a very good artist, and so he has genuine “fans” that check out his Facebook page to keep up with his latest art work. He provides value to them by posting pictures of his latest work, and just generally chatting to them, answering any arty type questions. I’ll even link to his page so you can check it out for yourself:

http://www.facebook.com/pages/Mike-Grattan/27688003492?ref=ts

You can see the difference between his Facebook fan page and the bog standard business fan pages I’m sure you’ve all come across, I have no data to be able to put a figure on it, but the vast majority of business fan pages on Facebook are like Ghost Towns.

Even our very own D9 Hosting Facebook fan page:

http://www.facebook.com/pages/D9-Hosting/20700629688?ref=ts

Isn’t a hive of activity, despite people using the service on a daily basis.

So I just really don’t get the point of a lot of these businesses having Facebook fan pages, there is obviously some potential there, purely due to the number of people that use Facebook, but as of yet, I’ve come across very few that have been able to make Facebook “work” for them, on a business level.

Thoughts?

P.S. As you can see from the screen shots in this post, I do have a Facebook page, but it’s used purely for people I know in “real life”. So please don’t be offended if any readers have added me in the past and I’ve declined, it’s purely because I don’t know who you are, it doesn’t mean you aren’t cool, or look funny, it’s just me keeping work and play very much apart ;-)

P.P.S. If you are a friend on Facebook, and I’ve never met you in real life, I was either intoxicated when accepting the request, or you are very, very special! :-D




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Comments

17 Responses to “To Facebook or not to Facebook?”
  1. Mandy Allen says:

    Ha! Excellent post, Dan. I can see that quite a lot of ‘fan pages’ may not be buzzing with fans! There really are some offline businesses that want an online presence but go about it in the wrong way. You can’t sit on that sofa and try it out on Facebook! But one would hope that for the majority of us it is a great way to keep your readers up to date with all that’s happening in your online efforts…I just built mine so I do hope that it works like that and becomes a ‘happening’ place!

    Enjoy the journey.

    Mandy

    • Dan (el_passo) says:

      Hi Mandy,
      Going back to the sofas, I’m not sure if it’s something that you can essentially sell online. A sofa may look great, but you do really need to sit in it before you buy it, and as you say, Facebook doesn’t give you that :-D

  2. Chris says:

    Hi Dan,

    Nice post complementing something that Perry Marshall came out with last year. His comparison went: Google Search is like Yellow Pages, Content Network is like a Newspaper and Facebook is like a Coffee Shop. On Facebook you are interrupting conversations with friends so you need to add value before selling – make a promise in your advert and give the promise before the opt-in. But this can only apply to certain businesses (like your Mike Grattan above).

    For some businesses it won’t work at all, for some a little and for others it can go viral.

    I’ve just shut down all my sites and am re-thinking my strategy – personal sites that is. The business ones for my day job are up and running but not on any social media sites, we get all our business from PPC and natural listings and some from mail/email shots through partner firms and coreg.

    Thanks for your post and I hope your sheep clipping man (when he arrives) doesn’t do a specsavers!

    Chris (Biggin Hill, Kent)

    • Dan (el_passo) says:

      Hi Chris,
      I like that analogy, I’ve never thought as Facebook as a coffee shop before but in a way it is, and would you want someone coming in and trying to sell you a new sofa whilst you were sat having a coffee?

  3. Dee says:

    Hi Dan
    Your posts always cheer me up and make me laugh. Is Paula still trying to marry you off?
    I would just love to see your drunken shearer chasing your sheep!!
    Regards
    Dee

    • Dan (el_passo) says:

      Yeah, we were at the accountants last week but she didn’t manage to find anyone for me, but the accountants probably isn’t the best pulling place!

      The shearer is lucky that we get the sheep in for him, he just has to do the clipping. But he does have a very funny involuntary action, after each sheep is clipped he says “ayyyyyyyyyyye” at the top of his voice, then “come on love” to the next sheep in the queue!

  4. Dan,

    As we’ve never met IRL I have to believe you were ‘under the influence’ when you friended me on FB.

    Since hearing my daughter’s explanation of why she described some of her students as ‘special’ I’ve seriously tried to avoid being so branded.

    Aside from all that, an excellent post. Informative, relevant and, as always (well almost always) subtly humorous.

    Warm regards,

    Elmer

    • Dan (el_passo) says:

      There is a 3rd rule for adding non IRL friends to Facebook, and I believe you fit into that category Elmer:

      3. Wears a cool hat :-D

  5. Carol Smith says:

    Great post, Dan. As usual I enjoy your wit. I always go on Facebook and “Like” the marketers I know when asked to do so. As you, haven’t seen anyone proving that it is doing good for them financially.

    I have about 400 ex-students on my friends list and I know they aren’t interested in my IM stuff. I do have a FB page for my cooking blog because I have a fairly high number that like to swap recipes. I enjoy it BUT not making me any money.

    Carol

  6. I Didn’t realize the box of corn flakes was side on and I thought it was a extremely long, thin, special edition box :D

    Great blog post as per usual mate.

    Alex

    • Dan says:

      LOL, looking at the pic now I can see what you mean, it looks like a box of crunchy nut cornflake whiskey or something!

      • Mmmmmm Crunchy Nut flavored whisky :D

        • Dan says:

          You laugh, but I wouldn’t be surprised if someone, somewhere, has invented it.

          We (D9) got sent 2 bottles of Raspberry flavoured Vodka a few weeks ago, they also do chocolate and caramel flavours, what’s the world coming to!?!

          …Best part of it was I took Paula’s bottle up to Newcastle with me the other week, and they confiscated it at the airport :-D

          • Could always try putting using whisky instead of milk for the morning bowl.

            Yeah i’ve saw a lot of novelty vodkas, pretty sure you can get bacon vodka, and bacon toothpaste, and soap…

            Haha, that’s one way to get rid of it :D

  7. Tony says:

    Hi Dan,
    great post as always…it does seem to me that more and more TV adverts are now quoting Facebook. Maybe it’s just a matter of time before it is all advert based. But with 600 million users..that will be some way off. I use it for social chit chat and marketing….real life as opposed to the mountains of spammy stuff. Use your filters and its still pretty good! cheers

  8. James Hughes says:

    Hi Dan

    Good blog post.

    I’ve recently started marketing on Facebook profile.
    Before I just used to see what my mates were up to but
    The potential for driving traffic to your sites is scary!

    All the best

    James

  9. Hi Dan,

    I once read a book on advertising and branding and one of the chapters went on about neurotransmitters in your brain making connections when you associate an image with a product/smell/feeling etc etc you know what I mean.
    So my guess is that if they can have the image(facebook F) associated with there product then somehow this will do some kind of voodoo in your brain whilst you think about crunchy nut cornflakes.??? maybe?

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