Why are some Marketing and PR experts scared of social networking?

Keith Nallawalla

13 September 2012

Facebook

For quite some time I have been concerned that Marketing and PR staff at major companies are scared of social media. This might sound crazy or uneducated, but these are common reasons why they will not allow their companies to have a Facebook page:

  • No time to maintain it
  • No budget to maintain it
  • People will use it to cyberbully each other.
  • People will talk badly about the company there.

The first two are fair enough and are things that may be developed into the next budget, but the other two sound like the only “research” or knowledge they have on the topic comes from a mix of tabloid sensationalism and their own assumptions. It is clear that most of these marketing “experts” are out of touch and have not been keeping up with modern trends.

If people are going to talk poorly about your company, they will do it regardless. By making a Facebook page for your company, any posts on there will be able to be addressed by you. If someone has a complaint about your company, you can reply to them asking for them to inbox you. You can resolve it privately. Chances are this person will change their mind and stop talking poorly of you on the internet. Another thing that can happen is that your other fans may notice this and defend you. This happens surprisingly often, when your fans stand up for you, the issue can resolve itself without you even having to step in. If anyone else happens to see the post, they will probably be impressed by the fan’s loyalty.

It is also possible to delete comments / prevent users from posting on your wall if they are really going out of their way to harass your page.

Facebook Fan pages and Facebook ads are cheaper and more effective than older forms of advertising. Compare postal mailing lists vs Facebook ads

If you have 700 people on your mailing list and you have had this list for quite some time, it will cost you 60 cents to send each person a letter. Some of these people may no longer be interested in your letter, some may not live there anymore, some may not even open it. This will have cost you $420.

If you do a Facebook ad you can target it to people who either already like your page, who may be aware of whatever you are advertising already, or you can advertise to people who do not like your page yet. You do not pay for showing this ad to people who do not click it. Whether someone reads your physical letter or not is unmeasurable for you. You have to pay 60 cents for every person you attempt to show it to. With Facebook you can potentially show your add to thousands of people, all of which have a chance of being interested in your ad (if you choose your demographic properly) and then you only pay for the people who click it. Even if people aren’t clicking it, they may read your name and at least become aware of your company.

Cyber bullying is another issue. I don’t quite know why someone is going to cyberbully someone on a brand page. Maybe if someone is criticising your company and someone defends you it could turn into an argument, but I don’t think that’s “cyberbullying” and it will probably not become anything long term. If someone is going to harass someone they know in real life, they are unlikely to publicly do it on a brand’s page. The fact that this is perceived by “marketing experts” as a huge issue astounds me. I’m not saying it cannot happen, but it isn’t very likely. That’s like saying “let’s not have a business in case two people walk into our office and one starts insulting the other for no reason and sues us for existing”.

If anything happens on your page, you can control it. You can report users to Facebook, the victim themselves can report them to Facebook, You can block them from posting on your page, the victim can do that too. I can’t work out why they would do that on your company page though, it just isn’t how people typically use them.

Even if you don’t want to have an active fan page on Facebook, you can still use Facebook as an advertising platform. You cannot make ads without already having a Page, so you will need to make one anyway. You can direct people to your external websites, but you should really try and attract them to also liking your page at the same time, which is a better long term strategy and is better value for money. Ads leading outside of Facebook tend to be less effective depending on the destination, you could get a high bounce rate so may cost more, so trying to keep things within Facebook is really the best idea. Here is a good article about which types of ads are the most effective.

The main thing that sets Facebook ads apart from other online ads is that it has a very powerful targeting power based on users profile information. It relies on advertising things to you that you may not be aware of, whilst with Google’s Adwords it is advertising to people who are already looking for your product. What makes this great is that if you have a business / product / service that people do not actively seek out / are not aware of, you can still advertise to them. Facebook ads are more similar to Google’s Display Network Ads.

It is actually kind of hard to find what other people post on a page’s wall unless you go looking for it. Comments by fans are not as visible on business pages as they used to be. Most big companies have lots of negative comments made about them and they still run successfully. Very few people are likely to stop going to a chain restaurant because they saw someone complain about them on Facebook.

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By posting a reply like this, or asking them to send an email it usually seems to diffuse the situation and ends the conversation. No one else is likely to take any notice of this message either. People don’t really go looking at comments left by others on business pages and will only spot them if a friend posts on one via their news feed.

For most types of businesses, social media is probably worth looking into. If your competitors are doing it, especially if they are doing it successfully, why are you letting them get ahead of you? If they are not doing it, why are you not making the most of your opportunity to get a head start? Just make sure you use a Social Network that is popular enough and relevant enough to work for your business and with your target audience. You do not need to be on all of them.

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