8/11/2013 6:00:00 AM Not every business needs Facebook
ANITA COHEN-WILLIAMS SCORE Counselor
Question: We've just opened a new plumbing business and launched our website. We are wondering if we need to have a Facebook page as well. What does SCORE think about Facebook in particular and social media in general for a service business like plumbing?
Answer: Facebook has 699 million daily active users (as of June 2013), but, according to Facebook's own estimate, 80 percent of them are outside of the United States and Canada. And, although a lot of businesses are on the social network, not all businesses do well there.
What many businesses don't understand is that Facebook is really a "social" network where people come to talk and share information. Service businesses rarely make much of an impact and, to use any social media successfully, it requires dedicated amounts of time and diligence that a business owner either has to put in or should hire someone to do.
The most successful businesses on Facebook fall into these seven categories:
Retail (well-known stores, odd or unusual products)
Bars and nightclubs
Big, nationally known brands
Posted in May 2013 on www.the-broad-side.com, the article "Maybe You Don't Need Social Media to be Successful" states, "One USA Today report reveals that social media may not be the answer for everyone. About 61 percent of small businesses don't see any return on investment on their social-media activities." On SocialMediaExplorer.com, social media and marketing specialist Stephanie Schwab notes, "As someone who is deeply entrenched in, and very much in love with, social media, it's very hard to say 'Don't do social media.' But I find myself telling some of these entrepreneurs and business owners that social media may not be the most important thing for them to do." Schwab is talking about small businesses, but other articles point out that there are some huge, successful businesses that don't use social media at all, Apple being the most unexpected example.
Also, ignoring your target market is one of the biggest mistakes local businesses make. Before jumping into the social media venue, first find where your prospective customers are who are looking for the services you offer.
The Yellow Pages used to be the place to advertise, but is rapidly being replaced by online directories. There are online Yellow Pages, but they are often confusing, and sometimes have incorrect or outdated information.
Ask your current customers to post reviews for you on websites like Yelp, MojoPages.com, and TripAdvisor.com (they now show businesses as well as restaurants). Make sure you list your website in Yahoo Local, Bing Local, and Google Plus (aka Google Places).
If your business handles commercial services, such as industrial plumbing or cleaning, get a company page on LinkedIn. LinkedIn is one of the biggest business-to-business networks online today.
Many chambers of commerce and other business organizations and local networking groups have a website and an online business directory for their members. This is an excellent resource for prospective clients, because they will continue to refer you to their friends and colleagues.
If you are just getting started or your business needs some fresh ideas, the September Business Planning Workshop is for you. It's scheduled for five Wednesdays Sept. 25-Oct. 23 from 6-8:30 p.m. at the Adult Center, 1280 East Rosser St. Cost: $90 for two people from the same business. Go to http://northernarizona.score.org/localworkshops, call Richard Eason at 778-7438, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.