The business case for Facebook, in one sentence

What is the most-debated question in social media today?  One candidate is, “Should my company have a Facebook page?”

The tension comes from several angles. It could be due to:

  • The company is not culturally-ready to deal with comments from real people.
  • The company has whacked-out expectations about how sales will increase once they have a Facebook page.
  • Their social media guru, Timmy from Accounting, has set their marketing strategy.
  • They are doing it because their kids told them it would be cool.

So how do you decide if a Facebook page should be a priority for your company?  Here is the business value proposition for Facebook in one sentence:

“Come waste time with me.”

Think about it.  The overwhelming reason people go to Facebook is to waste time playing Farmville, watching funny videos, or catching up on the details of friend’s lives.  Your life does not depend on Facebook.  It’s entirely incremental activity.

So, do you have a business that people want to waste their time with?  If you are Disney, the answer is probably yes.  If you are selling ball bearings to Ford Motor Company, well … probably not.

Here are examples of organizations that would be fun to waste time with:

  • Companies that provide humorous, entertaining,interactive, news-worthy, interesting, and/or educational content.
  • Beloved brands that have passionate “fans” outside of social media like Coca-Cola, BMW, universities, charities, sports teams, or the neighborhood pizza joint.
  • Brands that allow you some exclusive access, deal, discount, contest, or benefit from being on Facebook.
  • Companies that interact with you in a unique and personal way.

Now of course there are exceptions, but I think as a general rule, keeping this business case in mind will be a pretty good predictor of a company’s ability to connect with people on Facebook.

Marketing through Facebook is difficult. People go to there to AVOID your sales pitches and ads. They immerse themselves in Facebook to escape. So to the extent that you can help them do that, you will have success.

I’m not saying that even the ball bearing company couldn’t have some benefit from being on Facebook. It doesn’t really hurt anything as long as it doesn’t distract you from real value-adding work.  But when your boss is pressuring you because nobody has “liked” her civil engineering firm, you can simply challenge her by saying, “we’re a great firm, but probably not a company people want to waste their time with.”

… Unless of course you can make it that way!

What do you think?  Does this fit for you or have you had another experience?

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