When Facebook first started allowing businesses to create pages, it was positioned as the free alternative to Google. This was quite a compelling offer for those who were paying higher and higher fees to attract customers.
Here was Facebook, a growing platform, offering a free place to really build a community. However, it really turned out not to be free - more of a free trial.
With the popularity of Facebook, soon normal users started to be overwhelmed with the number of updates that were being presented to them. Today it is estimated that if you saw every update from friends and also pages you have liked, it would total 1,500 messages each and every day. Something had to give and the first thing was business page updates.
Businesses who had spent years cultivating relationships with fans now find that they reach only four or five per cent of fans with their posts. To reach more fans, you need to either write better and more compelling updates or pay to advertise and boost your updates.
Quite a large number of companies have really fallen out with Facebook over these changes and are now leaving the network. This is great news for your business. After all, the less competition the better.
Facebook and Twitter remain extremely good value to reach new customers, especially compared to most other forms of advertising. It is also where the vast majority of your potential customers hang out multiple times per day.
Linkedin is also a great value platform to reach people if you are in the professional services industry.
The lesson to be learned here is that until you start to engage with your fans and followers away from the social media platform, they are as anonymous as a new visitor to your store or website. So how can you communicate with these fans and followers on your own terms?
You should continue to build your fans and followers on social media, but give them a reason to provide you with a valid email address as soon as possible.
Every week business owners call me and ask how they can reach more of their fans.
Yes we can tinker with what they say and times of day etc, but when I ask how many people have given their contact details the number is usually less than one per cent of their follower base.
Now if you read this column regularly, you’ll know that I am an advocate of giving huge value to your customers. This can be monetary in the form of a discount or special offer. However, more commonly used is great advice or content.
If you use LinkedIn then you typically have access to your “connections” email. Be sure to download that regularly on to your systems.
With Facebook and Twitter you can now give users the option to share their details with you, without them having to leave the platform.
So stick with social media. Just be sure to give your customers a compelling reason to trust you with their personal information...soon.