If you do a Google search for “What is Facebook” you will find a handful of variations of the following answer.
“Facebook is a popular free social networking website that allows registered users to create profiles, upload photos and video, send messages and keep in touch with friends, family and colleagues.”
Nothing about it being a promotional tool. You’ll find references to Facebook being a For-Profit company that derives its revenue from advertising, but nothing indicating that the purpose of Facebook is to be a promotional tool.
Think back to why you first signed up for Facebook. It was a great way to stay in touch with old friends and family. For some it was a great way to reconnect with people they had lost contact with and lets be honest, most of us have used Facebook to check in and see what an ex is up to now. Once signed up, you might have joined one of the many groups that featured members with similar interests, but even within these groups the intent was to be used as a means to share engagement and meet people with similar interest. Not to promote something.
Now I’m sure some of you will try and tell me that they’ve seen a lot of success from promoting on Facebook, and I’m not going to disagree with you, but I am going to ask you how do you define success. Typically I’ll hear people talk about how many ‘likes’ they got or things like “Well about 5 of the 50 people who indicated they were coming on Facebook showed up’ as if 5 out of 50 is a good thing or at least better than no one showing.
Maybe you’ve seen some ‘success’ from purchasing some additional ‘reach’ through Facebook ads. If you weren’t already aware, a little while back Facebook started limiting our reach, limiting the number of our followers who will see our posts, events, etc. Why did they do this, simply so they can make some money off us. If you want to reach more people you have to pay, which is all fine and dandy seeing how you can customize who will be targeted. This can and does lead to new followers or more ‘likes’ on your page, but is there really value in someone simply clicking “Like” and will you actually see a return on your investment?
According to many online articles and social media ‘experts’ Facebook adds can generate anywhere from a 450% to a 2000% return. Sounds pretty impressive, but there’s life after that initial ‘like’. The authors of “People Talking About This” studied fan engagement with major brands after they ‘liked’ these brands on Facebook. Of the 200 brands they studied (which included highly engaged fans brands like Nike, Chanel, Harley-Davidson, Jack Daniels, etc) only one had a 2 percent of their fans engage with them during the first couple weeks after initially liking the product on Facebook. Just 20 brands reached 1 percent and the remaining brands averaged less than 0.5 percent engagement after the initial “Like”.
So think about it this way…Servers at restaurants hate when patrons come in, just order coffee and then sit at their same table for 3 hours. You can see a Commission Sales Rep cringe when what they thought was a potential customer comes into their store and say, “I’m just browsing”. How is someone ‘liking’ or ‘following’ you online and then not engaging with you afterwards any different?
In the end, the intent of promoting on social media is to engage people. Whether we are inviting them to a show, letting them know about a release or trying to initiate a conversation, some interaction. We want to spark activity, get a reaction. We want people to start talking about us and engaging others.
This can be done using social media. In fact, studies show that the three motivators that spark conversations about brands and organizations are Functional, Social and Emotional motivators. Functional conversations typically spark from individuals seeking or wanting to share information about something. Social conversation is seen as conversations where we actually want others to see what makes us unique. What makes us unique is something we want to be sharing. Emotional motivators revolve around talking about things we love and hate. We shouldn’t be settling for ‘likes’. People don’t talk about what they like. They talk about what they love.
Social media can be a promotional tool, but for that to happen we have to go back to using social media for what it was originally intended. Socializing. If you’re going to posting something on social media, ask yourself “Is this a functional post, a social post or an emotional post? How will your post create engagement, action and get results?
The social network is not the promo network, but it can be a strong promotional tool if you use it for what it was intended to be used for. Socializing.