Smack in the middle of all the social networking hype that has been generated over the past few years there is Facebook- a site that lets users add people as “friends”, designate themselves as”fans”of other users, send messages, and update their personal profiles. With more than 400 million active users, many, including this blog, saw Facebook as fertile ground for businesses to interact with their customers, establish their brand, pinpoint their target market, and in short generate a profitable buzz.
But today, numerous business owners who sought to heed the clarion call to all things social networking are now left wondering whether it was all worth it. It turns out that Facebook, though it may be a popular way to connect with other people, may nonetheless be the wrong platform for many seeking to increase brand awareness and drum up business.
Here is a breakdown of the three major problems and drawbacks small business owners may experience as they work on building their Facebook following:
1. No distinction between personal and professional use. One problem is that Facebook causes business owners to cross boundaries and identities. This is due to the fact that Facebook does not allow one user to have two profiles. This means that users must merge their personal and professional networking. Sharing ones personal interests and photos with business contacts may not enhance one’s professional standing.
2. More fans do not equal more business. Facebook users are focused on socializing. The site additionally provides many interesting distractions, which make users less likely to pay any meaningful attention to business offerings- even when they have labeled themselves as friends or fans. Bottom line: increased exposure within Facebook among users in no way guarantees increased revenue.
3. Advertising a business on Facebook exposes it to fraud. Hacking and spam are prevalent on Facebook. Business owners certainly do not want someone sending strange messages to all their Facebook fans. In addition, because the Facebook audience is so vast and non-targeted, anyone can easily contact a business. Business owners can easily waste time responding to people who never intended to become customers.
In sum, while Facebook may offer unprecedented exposure, it is not truly a business tool. Business owners still interested in social media should consider other mediums, such as LinkedIn or Twitter in order to generate business growth and get a decent return on investment.