Marketing Sherpa had an interesting post recently on Facebook Pages. I wanted to comment on it since I think though relevant and timely it missed some really relevant points that our clients face as soon as they decide to get a Facebook presence. One specifically: that they are 'free'.
As a social media company that has been providing custom Facebook Pages for a wide variety of clients since their launch I feel that this post - and the opinion on the Web in general - is that it's really critical to understand with these Pages is that even though they are 'free' they also look free.
What do I mean?
All of them tend to look the same, have the same apps, and don't do a great job of getting a brand out there with any degree of uniqueness. Go ahead. Try it out.
I'll wait. They are 'easy to build.'
How does it look?
Now search some other Facebook Pages. Compare it to the one you just created. How similar is it?
Thought so. Nearly identical, right?
I'm not trying to sell our services here; however, I have heard stories of a number of companies who believe that these pages are the Holy Grail of 'Getting their Brand on Facebook.'
Remember this: Facebook Pages can host custom applications. This is what makes them different from Facebook Groups. But, more importantly, it's what makes them even MORE complex than most custom Facebook applications to develop. The entire world of social media is about two things: engagement and influence. A plain Facebook Page offers none of the former or the latter. The same rules apply for all other social media ROI as I've said in this post. Depending upon your social media strategy you need to understand that to make your Facebook page look and more importantly feel branded you have to develop some custom applications to make it so. Perhaps several. And yes, this costs. It costs money, time, and thought to get it right for your brand or strategy. I have heard some major marketing media firms talk about the fact that a custom Facebook application is more complex than a Branded Facebook Page.
Quite simply put: they are completely and utterly wrong.
Some other critical points that people looking at Facebook Pages miss:
- Drop-off rates from users who are led to other sites OUTSIDE of Facebook from a Facebook Page are horrfically high. > 90% in most cases (our numbers). If you think you are going to slap a Facebook Page up and expect users to happily leave the walled garden of Facebook to visit your existing Web properties for monetization or content you have surprises in store for you. Big ones. That you won't like.
- Fans of your Page WILL contain your competitors. Why? Because you can update every one of your fans at once once per day. Think about it. This is critical to starting a conversation and moving your brand or strategy forward. Don't fear this; embrace it! Fan their pages, too. Remember, this whole thing is SOCIAL.
- One of the popular apps available for free from Facebook for Pages is a Forum widget. A lot of companies are still terrified of UGC (user-generated content). 'What if someone says something negative about our brand/service/company/content?' We hear this a lot. What happens is a conversation that you can turn into something more positive than you can possibly imagine. Remember the Digg effect: removing negative or controversial (to you) content can have HUGE negative consequences almost never worth experiencing. See the book Groundswell for more information. Do not fear this. Any conversation is an opportunity to grow your brand/service/company for the better.
- Someone representing your brand/service/company needs to be involved with the design of the Page from the beginning. It needs to reflect your B/S/C in a way that reflects what is important to YOU.
- Your Page must be ready to change. It is NOT a website. If you want viral spread, if you want more fans, if you want people to start and continue the conversation you need to make sure USERS COME BACK. Engagement, people! ENGAGEMENT.
Facebook Pages are a critical tool that can really help your social media strategy. But be aware they are not free if you are expecting real results from them.