Facebook has a huge audience.
According to HootSuite, Facebook has “2.13 billion monthly active users, to be exact. That’s more than a third of the entire population of the world.” Source: HootSuite
Because Facebook has created such a large community, 1.4 billion of which are active on Facebook daily, many retailers have found it beneficial to invest time in Facebook marketing. In fact, 80% of small retailers use Facebook.
More to The Selling-On-Facebook Story
These numbers might suggest that your entire online presence could consist of a Facebook page. That you don’t need anything else. There’s more to the story.
While it’s true that Facebook gives you “free” access to their huge community, they also control what percentage of that community you can reach. While you may have great products that you want to show to potential customers via your Facebook page, it is Facebook who controls how many of those customers see those products. Not even all those who like your Facebook page will see all of your posts, let alone those who haven’t “liked” your page yet.
“Organic reach on Facebook is so 2012. This is unfortunate, but true. Facebook has long been a ‘pay-to-play’ platform for those businesses serious about optimizing all that the platform offers. Organic reach has been steadily declining from well over 100% on some pages (back pre-2012), to an average of 1-6% starting in 2014.
So what’s the cause for the dramatic decline in organic reach?
Facebook’s goals are different than your goals as a small retailer.
The people over at Facebook are constantly making updates (as they should) to improve the experience they want to give users.
Unfortunately for businesses, this experience is focused on personal connections, not on showing your products, services, or sale items to potential customers. On their website, Facebook lists their top priority as helping people “stay connected with friends and family”.
This is awesome for users; I’m not bashing it. But things are a little different from a retailer perspective. If you are currently relying on your free Facebook profile to bring in all of your online sales, you might want to rethink that strategy.
Mark Zuckerberg, Owner of Facebook, recently posted on Facebook about the future plans for the social media giant.
You can click to read the entire post if you want, here are the main parts you, as a business owner, should consider,
“Recently we’ve gotten feedback from our community that public content — posts from businesses, brands and media — is crowding out the personal moments that lead us to connect more with each other.”
– Mark Zuckerburg
“The first changes you’ll see will be in News Feed, where you can expect to see more from your friends, family and groups. As we roll this out, you’ll see less public content like posts from businesses, brands, and media.”
– Mark Zuckerburg
Bottom line: Facebook’s goal is to create more connections between people. Fewer of these connections will be with businesses.
Hubspot sees Facebook’s plan this way:
“From Facebook’s perspective, it’s simply not an ideal user experience to flood the News Feed with posts just because a Page has lots of Likes and is publishing prolifically.
Nowadays, Facebook is encouraging marketers to look at their fan bases as a way to make paid advertising more effective rather than using it as a free broadcast channel. Additionally, Facebook says you should assume organic reach will eventually arrive at zero. So, if you really want to reach your target audience on Facebook, you’ll need to supplement your organic efforts with some paid advertising.”
Is Advertising Enough?
So, you can’t build the online section of your business solely on a free Facebook profile. But can you build one on Facebook ads? Advertising on Facebook is a good option. In fact, as of April 2017, 5 million businesses advertised on Facebook each month (Source: Business Insider).
That being said, to be most successful, you need a place online, other than your Facebook page to funnel the traffic from those ads. You need a place where consumers can complete purchases in a way that is user-friendly for them and streamlined for you. Jerry-rigging sales on Facebook won’t lead you where you want to go.
You need a website. And you don’t just need a website because you need a landing page for your Facebook ads. You need a website because you aren’t going to let the online success of your business hang on what another company decides it wants to do. Especially since you have different goals.
In Your Best Interest
What’s best for small retailers, is not having the success of your business based on what another company does for its best interest.
David Mulcahy from Conversion Stategies, Inc. puts it this way,
“As a business owner, would you rather:
A) Set up shop in someone else’s store (without a lease) OR
B) Own or lease a dedicated space for your business?
With the first option, you’re at the mercy of the store owner. If they don’t want your business in their store anymore, then you’re now out of business until you find a new location. If they decide not to open up one morning, your business can’t reach it’s customers and your revenue will be affected.
However, if you own or lease then you have much more control over your situation. The changes in someone else’s business won’t affect whether you stay in business or how much it will cost to stay in business. The same is true for having a website that you control, rather than building your online presence solely on a social media platform.”
You should advertise on Facebook. But you shouldn’t put all of your eggs in the ever-changing Facebook basket that you don’t control.
Take Control Of Your Business – 3 Ways
Unlike Facebook, the right website will give you full control. You control what your homepage looks like, how your products are displayed, what your images look like, and most importantly, the user experience.
Here are 3 ways a website helps you take control of the online portion of your business.
#1. Control Your First Impressions
You can’t control what Facebook looks like. They have changed page layouts, image sizes, how posts look etc. numerous times and will continue to do so. And there’s nothing you can do about it. Your page will always have the same overall look and feel as every else’s. It is much harder to stand out and much harder to wow consumers.
You CAN control what your website looks like. As The Balance points out, “Design your website to match your media outlet’s branding goals and colors. Make changes anytime and at your discretion.”
Build your website to be an extension of your brick and mortar. You can control the look and feel, the colors, the fonts, the user’s experience and more. And you don’t have to worry that you’ll wake up one day to find out that everything changed and it looks completely different with a new set of rules you have to follow.
#2. Control Your Information
With a website, you can control the info you give your customers.
As Adweek puts it, “Valuable information isn’t always readily available right when a user lands on the [Facebook] page. Your address may be there, along with your phone number and a Yelp page, but that isn’t necessarily enough. Many potential customers want to learn a little more about who you are and what you’re about. In comparison, a dedicated website enables you to completely control your brand and acts as a main hub on the web where interested, potential customers can go for all the information they’re looking for.”
#3. Control Your Customer’s Focus
Every Facebook page displays the number of likes/fans/followers that page has. This is often helpful for consumers but can be harmful for a small business just starting out on Facebook. If your numbers are low, customers may not trust your business and may decide to go somewhere else.
On the other hand, with a website, no one but you knows what your traffic is or what your sales are. With this information kept private, you don’t have to worry about customers being dissuaded due to numbers that may be smaller than those of the competition. The focus will remain where it should–on your fabulous products, your company’s dedication, and your commitment to quality service.
Give Your Business What It Deserves
You work hard for the success of your business. So don’t shortchange it when it comes to the online sphere. Dedicate a place online -a website – to the success of your business.
Continue to use Facebook, but use it as a way to drive business to your website. Share images of products, links to sales on your website, and videos from classes you offer.
As Adweek puts it,
“In short, should you have a Facebook page for your small business? Yes, absolutely. It’s free and it’s brand exposure. Is it enough? Probably not. To create the kind of digital presence that is required for a small business to succeed in today’s world, a dedicated website isn’t a nice-to-have, it’s a necessity.“
Check out these articles on how to create successful websites:
Also published on Medium.