2011 25/05

Goodbye Websites. Hello Facebook.

Last summer we pulled into the local small-town gas station and immediately I noticed the announcement on their outdoor sign — “Find us on Facebook and Twitter”. What? Really? Why on Earth would I be following my gas station on Twitter or Facebook? I laughed and scoffed at how silly it was that business like that were trying to be “cool” and jump on social media.

Well, now I’d like to take all of that back! I think it’s awesome that they are Facebook (maybe not Twitter and I’ll explain that in a future post). It’s smart! It’s a great business move! And here’s why…

I’m very vocal with the fact that I think every business should have a website. In today’s age, people are no longer turning to their phone books to find your business information. They are turning to Google. If I want to know a business’ hours or location, I search for them on Google. Every business should have a website to at least cover those basic pieces of information! But, maybe that website doesn’t actually have to be a “website”. Maybe that means being on Facebook.

Facebook is obviously not a fad. Or at least it’s not a fad that is going to disappear any time soon (well done Mr. Zuckerberg). I think, as Facebook continues to evolve, the need for most companies to actually have a website is going to be moot.

1. The price is right!

This is probably the number one reason for a business to be on Facebook — it’s Free! It costs nothing to start a Facebook Fan Page for your business. Unlike a traditional website, you don’t have the costs of domain name registration and renewal or hosting. Yes, it’s nice to have your own personalized email address, which typically comes when you register a personalized domain, but Gmail email addresses are becoming pretty popular and widely accepted as a legit, business email.

If you’re not sure how to set one up, simply contact almost any social media person (Hi, nice to meet you!) and they can help you set everything up for a nominal fee. They might even be nice enough to give you a little Facebooking 101! Then it’s up to you or one of your employees to keep it updated (so easy).

2. All your basic info and a little more.

Facebook allows you to get all of your pertinent information out to interested patrons — business location, hours, and contact information. You can also post pictures of products, events or services. Link to an online shop, if you have one. Instantly post about upcoming sales or events through a myriad of ways. And instantly connect with your shoppers!

Facebook Pages

Love that Captain Sundae offers all the info I want all on one page!

Also, a fun way to attract people to your site is to run some awesome giveaways and contests. But you’ll want to double check Facebook’s current contest guidelines before embarking on this!

3. Free and Personal Advertising!

Facebook also serves as an amazing (and FREE) advertising vehicle! If you’re new to Facebook, here’s how that advertising portion works — You, Business X, creates a fan page. I “like” your page. The news of me “liking” your page goes into my “feed” and it is announced to all of my Facebook friends. A handful of friends see that I like Business X, click over to Business X’s Facebook page to see what it’s all about and like it themselves. Then, the announcement of Friends 1, 2, 3, and 4 liking Business X hits their feed and catches the attention of their friends. And so on and so forth. It’s not just a domino effect…it’s a domino explosion!

Facebook Pages

And it’s not just me noticing some billboard on the side of the road. It’s me having a personal connection to your business because my best friend “liked” your business. I trust her opinion so I’m going to check you out because she recommended you in a way. Also, it’s quick and accessible. I don’t have to remember a URL to check out later when I’m home. I’m already online, checking out Facebook life, so it’s super easy for me to click over and check out your page and information.

Facebook pages are also starting to be indexed by Google, making them searchable even if I’m not searching on Facebook for you. So, I can find you either by searching Google or using Facebook’s internal search field.

Facebook Pages

When I searched Google for "Karla's Place", her FB page came up as #2 & #3 in the search results.

4. Connecting in real time!

Facebook, if used correctly, allows you to connect with your customers in real time. They can post questions or concerns right on your wall and you can address them almost immediately! This speaks volumes to other customers! As I said, if you do it correctly, Facebook can be an awesome customer service tool!

Facebook Pages

Mommy Necklaces does an amazing job of consistently and personally connecting with their FB fans!

All that being said, I understand a Facebook page won’t replace a website for every business. Some businesses actually need a website. But, I really believe that 90% of businesses can get away with simply having a Facebook page in lieu of a website. And, even if you have a website, you should probably still be on Facebook!

As much as a Facebook page can be a huge asset to your business, remember that Facebook pages can also be a detriment. If you’re not interacting or keeping your information current, people are going to get frustrated and your efforts will be wasted. It doesn’t take more than a few minutes to respond to people posting on your wall or to change your hour hours of operation. Do it while you’re sipping your morning coffee!

It’s really that easy. And it’s really that effective. Because now I’m going to click over to Facebook and check my gas stations page to see if they will be open on Memorial Day and how astronomically high they are expecting gas prices to be!

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