Could Facebook Business Pages Make Sense for You? (This is a trick question!)

I recently responded to a reporter’s request for perspectives on Facebook’s new feature that allows people to have business pages as well as personal pages and whether it will make a difference in the way small businesses use Facebook to market to customers and prospects.

These types of questions are always interesting to me because they seem to prompt a somewhat “backwards perspective” on marketing communication. IMO, the appropriate approach starts with a goal/objective, the identification of a specific target audience and then a determination of the best tools to connect with, engage and–ultimately–compel that audience to some desired action.

Now, I don’t think there is anything wrong with being alert to new communication opportunities and tools and considering how they might fit into an existing communication strategy. But many of the small businesspeople I talk to feel as though they’re somehow “missing the boat” if they’re not part of the social media mania. In many cases, they’re not.

Social media in general, and Facebook in particular, just may not be for everyone.

As with any communication tool, the answer to the question of: “should we use this tool?,” really depends on the goal and target audience. I’ve found that Facebook can have relevance for businesses or individuals that are “visually oriented” and that lend themselves toward the establishment of some type of community. Here are two examples to illustrate: A woman at a conference I spoke at recently represented an autobody shop that was attempting to establish a presence on Facebook. Autobody shops, in my opinion, are not the type of business that people want to become “friends” with. Unless she could come up with some ongoing value that could be provided to visitors–maybe information on car maintenance?–it would seem to be an uphill battle to use Facebook in a meaningful way.

On the other hand, a cosmetic surgeon or dermatologist might be able to effectively establish a presence and community on Facebook by sharing information about health, wellness and beauty–and posting photos of before/after shots, etc. (On a sidenote here, many hospitals and healthcare systems have a Facebook presence–but do people want to establish a relationship with an organization or with other people? Individual practitioners, I think, have an opportunity to use Facebook effectively; health care systems probably not so much…).

I certainly think that Facebook business pages will present some opportunities to some businesses. But, the bottom line is that we have a a lot of ways today to communicate with our audiences. The challenge is identifying the ways that will be most effective from a cost/benefit standpoint and using those methods to generate results. Social media is popular and Facebook offers some unique benefits in the social media realm.

But, ultimately the answer to the question of “Could Facebook business pages make sense for you?,” is “It depends.”

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