Is Facebook for business overrated?

Yes, says the author, who believes the social network is a waste of time and money.

This may not be a popular or even accurate position, but based on my experience with my business, and the businesses I do social media marketing for, I believe the following to be true: Facebook for business is completely overrated.

Marketers are flocking to Facebook in droves, partaking in an array of circus acts to garnish fans and likes, mostly with lackluster results at best, yet the Facebook madness drones on.

Facebook is the new website

Small Business Labs reported on some interesting data from the Network Solutions State of Small Business report on the impact of social media on traditional websites:

When asked how social media usage is impacting their spending plans on their traditional websites, 62% of small businesses said that social media didn’t change their spending plans for the coming year. 27% said they are planning on increasing their spend due to social media.

But 9% plan on eliminating (4%) or spending less (5%) on their traditional website due to social media. While 9% sounds low, last June only 2% reported plans to spend less or eliminate their traditional website due to social media.

In the forecasting world, we call a 6 month shift of this magnitude a signal.

Last year we wondered if social media in general and Facebook in particular could replace traditional websites. The general consensus of the feedback we got was a solid no.

But despite the feedback, many small businesses are using Facebook for their firm’s primary website. We’re also seeing a growing number of new small businesses choosing Facebook over a traditional website for their web presence.

Facebook isn’t results oriented marketing

As a business owner, I favor results over hype, which means: Are we selling more stuff based on our marketing effort? If we aren’t, we typically make changes and tweaks until we see sustainable improvement. As is the case with most small businesses, our marketing budget is constrained, so we need to employ things that work. Things that work in business are more simple to determine than folks want to admit.

Return on investment does not need to be complicated. So, if you were advertising in a certain magazine, with no measurable leads or sales, wouldn’t you change something up, like deploy your marketing resources elsewhere? Of course you would, except when it comes to Facebook. Most of us continue to drudge on, trying new things to engage prospects.

Why do we keep using it?

Why do we, and a zillion other businesses continue to deploy marketing dollars toward Facebook, all in the name of growing a fan base? At what point do we stop because we haven’t gotten any sales from the effort put forth? That is not to say we don’t strike up a conversation or two on our Facebook wall from time to time, and we aren’t downplaying the value of conversation and engagement, but does that value outweigh the cost? We successfully utilize a multitude of tools and platforms in our digital arsenal to drive leads, and Facebook is comes in last.

Clients love affair with Facebook

We can tell our client that their blog is the cornerstone of their social media strategy, but they don’t hear that. Clients are Facebook brainwashed and demand to be part of the Facebook dance party. Therefore, agencies are forced to try things that aren’t working. The sad thing about performing a service that doesn’t work is that folks start making stuff up, which will likely increase as time wears on.

Is your Facebook strategy working, and by what measure: fans, engagement, likes or sales? I doubt most folks are hitting any of those regularly, and hardly anyone is selling more stuff on Facebook. So are you doing it because your client or boss is demanding it?

Eric Brown established The Urbane Way and blogs at Social Media Explorer, where a version of this article originally ran.

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