Most Small Business Facebook Page Fans Not Local

by francine Hardaway on August 1, 2011

Every once in a while I get a press release and I use it as an excuse to write a blog post. Unfortunately, the company that send me this one, Roost, will probably not be pleased with what I’ve done with their report.

The Roost Local Scorecard, which was released today, is an analysis of the Facebook fan pages of  800 small businesses. What did it find? That only 15% of the average local small business’s “Likes” on Facebook are local. From that you can extrapolate that the Facebook pages of most small businesses do them little or no good for targeted marketing efforts.

This is one of those conclusions that — since its executive team comes from Flixter, WalMart, and Merchant Circle — Roost should have already known.

Because in the last decade I’ve worked with over 600 entrepreneurs and small businesses, I know how difficult it is to build a local community on a network as large as Facebook. I also know how little real knowledge most small business people have about social media. At best, it goes like this:

Small business puts up Facebook page

Page vendor or business owner tells everyone “go ask everyone to Like our page. We need 25 likes to claim our name.”

Someone from small business starts to post content to the page. Typically, either deals or product offerings.

Very few people who receive information about the deals go to the Facebook page.

Likers of the page who did it as a favor to their former classmates or their family members mute those irrelevant one-way deal posts in their streams, so Facebook’s curation eventually makes them disappear.

Business owner or marketing person looks more widely around her for potential people to “Like” the page.

Rinse and repeat, losing all the local people in an effort to get more “Likes.”

Change the wording to “Followers” and you have the typical Twitter behavior.

Why doesn’t this work? Because social media isn’t about platforms and dashboards, it’s about community and closeness. At its best, it’s about the butcher who asks you how your dog is doing on the raw food, or the nail salon that asks you if you want this broken nail repaired free while you wait for your pedicure. It’s about personalized service, neighborhood concerns, and the same bartender in the bar for twenty years.

Let’s take a farfetched example: let’s pretend my neighborhood sports bar set up a Facebook page. It would only invite people to the page who have already been to the bar more than once. The bartender himself would man the page, posting ball scores, special televised games, recipes for the chili you love in the bar, or news about someone from the neighborhood who had been in the hospital. You’d be invited to the page only if you were already a member of the community. So the bar would be targeting its existing customers and giving them reinforcement for their business. There would be “scarcity.” because you could only get invited into the page if you frequented the bar, so new customers might have an incentive to come back, and a community might form.

Bars are like that. Hair salon and barber shops have always been like that. Local restaurants are, and so are some car washes.  Bookstores, too. They are inherently social businesses.

But many businesses think they can just slap the bandaid of social media on their existing businesses, without realizing that for social media to be effective, social business has to be the real name of the game.

So if you  don’t plan for your business to be social through and through, and to build a community of your customers, don’t bother with a Facebook page.  Or a Roost platform to monitor it.


{ 3 trackbacks }

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August 2, 2011 at 7:22 am
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