Defaulting to Facebook for Your Brand?

Have you let your website languish, turning to Facebook instead as your de facto website? As an art and craft supporter and practicing artist myself, I often seek out artists and makers of all kinds. Perhaps I stumbled onto an image on Pinterest. I want to learn more about the artist, see what events they’re in and view new work.

More often than not, I find a website that hasn’t been updated in ages. I think the artist is no longer active until I discover a Facebook page with recent updates. Very often, there’s no website, only a Facebook page.

It’s easy to understand why people default to Facebook for their content. It’s easy to use, especially if you couple that with a website that is sorely out of date and/or difficult to update. I still come across people who have to pay someone to make updates, and often wait a long time to do so. That is a thing of the past. No one, least of all a small business, can afford to be hamstrung like that. The world moves too fast. (See this earlier post on developing a new website with today’s tools.)

Easy comes with a cost

This won’t be news to marketing gurus but it probably will be for small businesses or nonprofits; Facebook shows your page updates to about 16% of your followers. If you have 3000 followers, that’s 480 views. But views doesn’t mean the followers actually read your post; it just means your post appeared in their news feed as they scrolled by cute puppy videos and Caribbean vacations.

What if you have 350 followers? That comes to only 48 people.

Facebook uses algorithms that control what we see. It drives people to paid advertising. It’s important to understand that the average user (you and me) isn’t Facebook’s target customer. After all, we’re using it for free. Free comes with a cost. Advertisers are Facebook’s customers. Some people are outraged, but Facebook is a business.

And so are you.

Which is why you need to be armed with information and some tips to take control of your content.

You probably have more engagement on Facebook even with those limited views than you ever did with your website. That’s where Facebook is a powerful tool. You’re providing content where people already lurk. It’s the perfect medium for extemporaneous thought and for giving others the easy ability to share your content. Facebook shouldn’t be your default tool, but one part of an integrated plan.

Consider:

  • In Facebook, your content is always surrounded by the visual brand of Facebook, just as a store is in Etsy. Even with a banner and thumbnail image, you’re limited in how you present your brand.
  • There’s a certain disease of familiarity. Everything in Facebook looks the same, dulling the potential impact of your content.
  • Your audience isn’t captive since you’re competing with a lot of other eye candy.
  • In a website, people are likely to read your about page/bio (the most read page of any website). You can include that information in Facebook but I can’t recall the last time I used Facebook to learn more about someone.
  • Your website serves different purposes than Facebook, and vice versa. It isn’t an either/or scenario. Understanding the power and limitations of all the mediums you use gives you more control and confidence.
  • No one knows how long Facebook will be around. Your website always will be. Keeping it fresh will be easier in the long run than building from the ground up.

What can you do?

  • Don’t use Facebook as the default for your content. Use it as one component in a constellation of outreach and engagement methods.
  • Drive them back home. There are a few ways to keep content fresh on a website, and then use Facebook to drive people there. If you have a shop or event listings on your website, you want to make sure people visit and linger. Blogging isn’t for everyone but creating fresh content on your own website gives you something to link to from Facebook. Maybe you’ve just gotten back from an event. Instead of posting photos directly to Facebook (I know, hard to resist!), do a blog post and link to it on Facebook. Now you’ve just captured more eyeballs, especially if you have blog followers who aren’t on Facebook.
  • Develop a mailing list. An e-newsletter is personalized and intimate, going right to a single inbox. This captures people who don’t follow you on social media or who miss you in their social media news feeds. An e-newsletter doesn’t compete with lots of noise and you can use it to aggregate content, such as blog posts. All that activity on Facebook is lost to yesterday. MailChimp is free and easy to use. A list is gold. You start with one person and work your way up. One day you’ll thank yourself.
  • Keep your website up to date. An easy-to-update website and/or a blog will help wean you from always defaulting to Facebook. See this earlier post on options for creating a new website, one that’s affordable and requires no technical skills (whether budget is an issue or not).
  • Integrate with your website. There are plugins to add your social media feeds to a page on your website. This can be a nice option if you don’t want to blog. At least your website will have some dynamic content.
  • Combine with other forms of social media. This cross pollination ensures that you capture more people. Always include easy-to-find links to your website.
  • Help people find your Facebook updates. (See steps below).

Screen Shot 2015-08-12 at 4.26.50 PMTo get updates from Pages you like:

  • Click on “Activity Log,” which is on your home page, curiously not called “home,” but the one with your name on it.
  • In the left column, click on “Likes”
  • Then click on “Pages and Interests”
  • Hover over a Page’s name. Select the “Liked” dropdown menu with the little arrow. From the dropdown, select “Get Notifications.”
  • You can also go to the “Following” dropdown menu and select “See first.”
  • Also, while in your News Feed (the page actually called “home”), there’s a link called “Page Updates.” This will take people to a feed of all the business Pages they’ve liked.

To get followers to see your Page updates:

Encourage them to follow that list above. You have a few options:

  • You could do this on your Facebook page but do it more than once since we now know only 16% will see it.
  • Post a reminder in your e-newsletter.
  • Do a blog post about it with screen shots like the one above.

…………………

All of this requires a little effort but it will be worth it in the long run. Your website should be home base for your business and brand activity, and where you control the content, who sees and interacts with it and, most importantly, when.

If you know someone who could benefit from this information, please share it with them!

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