I've recently met several small business owners who were enthusiastic about wanting to stay in touch with me. All well and good. But instead of passing along their business cards, or jotting down their email or website info, they gave me their Facebook URL, as if this was all they needed.
Here are a few reasons why people do this, and why that's not the best way to go.
Reason #1: I'm In A Hurry.
Not a good reason. If you have time to organize a pretty good Facebook Business Page, along with an effective Timeline Cover photo, some interesting custom tabs, and good status updates that keep the community engaged, you have time to set up a decent website and enews, which is what you should focus on first when establishing your business. Why? Because Facebook is not your own, and as we've seen over the past few years, it is highly likely to change in ways we may not even like. Your website, assuming you create something like a custom Wordpress site with your own vanity URL, is your own online real estate, and you should take it seriously.
Reason #2: Everyone's On Facebook, So..."
Just because it seems like everyone may be on Facebook, that doesn't mean you should before you're ready. It's best to roll out your social profiles gradually, so you have time to establish your strategy, and how that intersects with your marketing or business plan, as well as how you will evaluate the metrics. Otherwise your efforts will most likely prove a waste of time.
Reason #3: My Business Isn't Really Ready Yet...
If your business is too new, meaning that you're not sure of your mission, or your products are simply not ready yet, you shouldn't be launching a Facebook Business Page yet, as you'll only confuse your audience. Effective Facebook pages are specific, about everything from prices and graphics, to promotions and branding. Your Facebook presence should grow organically out of all of that yummy goodness.
Now, back to that newsletter...
Here are 6 reasons why you should focus on your enews first.
- There's nothing more valuable for your business then your list. The folks who opt-in to your enews are getting your communications directly in their in boxes, so you know they'll see them. On Facebook, your updates can easily get lost in the busy newsfeed, even for Fans who will more then likely miss most of your posts just by the nature of the platform.
- There's probably no one following your blog. It's not unheard of to publish a beautiful website or blog, only to find that no one is subscribing or visiting. It's not a great feeling--kind of like spending hours organizing a party only to have no guests. You should be using your enews to promote and highlight your blog, encouraging your readers to convert to blog subscribers. Blogs typically publish more frequently, giving you that much more opportunity to establish your voice and brand, make offers, and grow your community through comments, links, and guest posts, as well as social shares.
- Survey and feedback. An enews is a great tool for surveying your audience and testing out new ideas, particularly if you are planning on launching info products, a book, a Webinar, or even a speech or live workshop. Programs like Constant Contact offer automated survey features that are seemless and effective.
- Not everybody wants the same information. One of the most popular features of enewsletters is the ability to segment your audience, so that only the most relevant content is sent to that subscriber. Facebook and most social media, while probably keyword centric, is not as highly channeled as enewsletters can be. Therefore, you are holding onto to your audience and gaining a loyal following.
- Autoresponders rock! One if the cool features of most email programs is the ability to set up a series of automated messages that can be used as part of your Welcome for new readers, or for a dedicated course or tutorial. Thus, you can get more bang for your marketing dollars then on Facebook, where any automated postings or updates that appear scheduled or staged, can backfire on your online authenticity.
- You Need to Eliminate Noise and Distractions. Facebook is a noisy place. Between advertising and the competition of a constant newsfeed, you need to grab your readers' attention and reduce distractions. You can do that with your enews. Facebook? Not so much.
So...there you have it, common reasons why businesses jump into Facebook pages too soon, and why enewsletters are a great foundation to start. What say you? Have you launched one or both, with what result?