Is There Value in Facebook Pages?

Facebook Page suggestionThis post was written because my friend Heather McCarron Allard over at The Mogul Mom blog, where I’m a regular columnist, asked for it.  You see, sometimes when I’m trying to think up great blog posts, I ask for help from my regular readers.  After all, you all come and subscribe to my blog because the content is helpful to you.  So who better to ask when I’m trying to come up with more content that’s helpful?  So I put out on Facebook a request for topics that my readers would find helpful.  And here’s what Heather wrote to me:

I get SO MANY requests to “Become a fan” of XYZ’s page on Facebook and sometimes I think to myself, “WHY??” Not to be rude, but to discover the value of becoming a fan. What are people doing with all these fans? Does it strengthen their brand? I would love to know more. 😉

So today’s topic is Facebook Pages.  What are they?  Do direct sales companies really need them?  Do direct sellers need them?  And if so, where do they fall within the entire social media marketing framework?  How do they benefit your brand?  Heather, this one’s for you. 🙂

Starbucks_PageA Facebook Page is a marketing tool that businesses can use to build brand awareness, engage prospects, and promote viral visibility.  The only part of Facebook that is by default indexed by Google, they are good way to improve your business search engine rankings, and help people find your business.  Companies such as Coca Cola, Starbucks, and Victoria’s Secret have all had great success engaging their target markets through their fan pages, and you can put this power to work for your business too.  While you are only allowed one personal profile on Facebook (per Facebook terms of service), you can have multiple business pages.

I recently did an informal poll of direct sellers, asking them what the number one thing they wished their direct sales company would do in social media to support them.  Surprisingly, the number one answer was that they wanted their companies to have a regularly-updated Facebook page.  A consultant-facing Facebook page that contains contests and incentives for consultants, specials that consultants can pass along to their customers and prospects, photos of fun events such as recognition, team meetings, and convention, etc, can all be a way to engage consultants, helping them to be a part of the community, and providing them with tools they can use to market their own businesses successfully using social media.

Vantel_PageFor independent direct sellers, a Facebook page is an OPTION, but in my opinion not a necessity.  Since a direct seller’s primary purpose in social media is to build relationships and drive traffic to a site (such as a blog) with the conversion objective of subscribing (you want people to come to your blog and subscribe, so that you then have permission to do more overt marketing), you can just as easily (or more easily) build relationships through your personal Facebook profile.  If it is important to you to have a separate business presence on Facebook, a page is the way to go, but realize that it will take work and time to build an engaging presence that causes you to benefit from this presence.  Some of the benefits of a Facebook page include the fact that Facebook caps your number of profile friends to 2,000, while a Facebook page can have an unlimited number of fans.  You can also add some nice applications to your Facebook page, making it interactive.  However, your page needs to be compelling and, frankly, fun enough for people to want to come back.  If your page is just an unending series of ads that provides value for no one but you, even if people become fans they’re not likely to come back.

So that brings us to the value proposition of your Facebook page, as well as Heather’s question.  She gets plenty of invitations to become a fan of friends’ pages.  But the question is WHY?  What’s in it for her?  If you don’t have a compelling answer to that question, you shouldn’t be creating a Facebook page in the first place.

Consultant_PageYour entire social media marketing strategy should be designed around the concept of providing value, positioning yourself as an expert, and providing the content that people need to solve their self-defined problems right now.  (“Self-defined” is the key term here.  You must get inside your prospect’s head.  People don’t say to themselves “I wish I knew which widgets to buy.”  They have PROBLEMS they define such as “I wish I knew what to do to relax and relieve stress.”)  Then, as part of your marketing strategy, you provide free, actionable content that provides solutions.  So in the context of your Facebook fan page, you might import your blog that contains helpful articles, and provide little tips through your status updates.  You might have someone design and build an engaging application for your page where people measure their stress level.    Notice you’re not pitching products with this approach.

Now that said, you can have a section on your page where you share the monthly specials.  People understand to an extent that a Facebook page is about business.  But if your Facebook page is an unending sales pitch, I don’t need to show up for that.  I’ve got commercials on TV that give me my fill of ADVERTISING.  This, instead, is MARKETING, and there’s a difference.  You must meet people at their point of need, and create the value that causes people to want to know more about you and what you have to offer.  It’s an engagement process.

When you succeed in providing a Facebook page that provides value, it does strengthen your brand.  Your fans are more likely to return because they’re engaged, and they’re also more likely to refer their friends.  The image and video files you share through your page can help you gain viral visibility through the news feeds of your fans.  And you can gain more readers for your blog (with its conversion objective of subscribers) by sharing it on your page.  The more interactions you have with someone through your page, the more they’ll remember you when it’s time to  make a purchase.

If you decide that a Facebook page is the way to go, I encourage you to check out my friend John Haydon’s blog.  Here’s got a great post on “How to Create a Facebook Page in Less than 4 Minutes.” But remember that’s just the creation.  Then you have the responsibility of creating an environment on that page that provides interactivity and value.  If you’re not willing to invest the time and effort that that will require, you may be better off sticking with marketing through your Facebook Profile. (And incidentally, I don’t have a Facebook page myself.  I have generated tremendous business simply through my profile and other social media tools, and have not felt the need to add a page I’ll have to support to the mix.  Will I one day?  Perhaps, when I hit the 2,000 friend limit on my Facebook profile.  But for now, I’d rather spend my efforts on other marketing efforts.)

What do you think?  Do you have a Facebook page?  Has it helped your business?  Would love to read your comments below!

6 Responses to Is There Value in Facebook Pages?
  1. Jeannette Swain
    August 10, 2009 | 6:26 pm

    Hi Jennifer!

    Great article and love that you chose my fb page to show! I actually like having a page for my business. I really don’t think my customers want or need to see me in school or pics of me as a baby. They become fans of my page to get info about stamping and scrapbooking. I’ve had some fun interactions with them too.

    You are so right about the time needed for it though. It does take a lot of time. My network is starting to expand beyond my family and friends now and that’s what it’s all about isn’t it?

    Thanks for your wonderful insights!
    Jeannette Swain

  2. divanilu
    August 5, 2009 | 11:49 am

    Awesome post…lots of great info. Thanks Jennifer!

  3. Harriette Jasper
    August 4, 2009 | 2:53 pm

    Awesome information packed in here as usual!
    I agree that for direct sellers, our home office should have the Fan page and I agree that we can get much more value from using our personal profile and possibly add a group.
    I won’t worry about a fan page until the point that I have to. It’s such a relief as well to know that I don’t have to invest that time right now. Thanks again for laying all the information out for us to make an informed decision!

  4. Jill Shea
    August 4, 2009 | 8:51 am

    Jennifer,

    Great post, thank you for sharing!

    I do not have a business or fan page either. I use my blog and Facebook profile to keep in touch with people.

    Thanks again for sharing, you ROCK!!!

    Jill

  5. MamaBritt
    August 3, 2009 | 5:49 pm

    This is a fabulous post! I don’t think I have ever read anything on the topic of Facebook fan pages that address whether or not they are worth the trouble. With social media and everything else that is involved in building a brand these days, it is hard to know what is worth your time and when it should become a priority in a growing biz.

    I agree that having a personal Facebook page is the way to go until you get to the 2000 friend limit. I started a fan page for one of my businesses and it was really hard to make it stick without a LOT of heavy promotion. Now I know it needed some more value and interactivity! BTW, how much does it cost to have someone build you an application for your FB page? That is an interesting idea…

    Thanks so much for the great post! I have already tweeted about it! 🙂

  6. themogulmom
    August 3, 2009 | 9:58 am

    Jennifer!
    Wow–such an informative post! Thank you so much for answering my question! 🙂

    I don’t have a Facebook (business/fan) page either. I interact with my readers on my blog and offer quick updates/incentives on Twitter.

    I’ll be interested to see what other people have to say about it and if their Facebook page has helped them build their business.

    I’m going to pass this on to my readers. Again, thank you!

    Heather

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