If only to start a balanced debate on what companies are really achieving through Facebook, I've started a debate on the Irish Webmasters Forum about it. With facts like "400 million potential" customers on Facebook, its quite scary for business owners - who need, more than ever, to make more sales - to ignore.
That makes this post very hard to write. Its been on my mind for months now. Facebook and in particular fan pages, are being sold as a cure-all, ignore-at-your-peril, never mind the obvious must-have for businesses. If only it was that simple....Well I've discussed it with lots of smart people that I really know and I think it's worthwhile opening up the topic for a little bit of discussion.
But 400 million customers? So Irish taxi drivers will be able to magically overcome geographical and legal (not forgetting commercial) constraints and pick up punters in New York? And Irish accountants and solicitors will be able to get work in Japan and Mexico. Because Facebook will bring you together.
Not forgetting language barriers, exchange rates (remember Ireland is still at the top of the top most expensive countries for things like mechanics, accountants, solicitors - well any skilled labour) etc.
Working in Primary Position puts me in unique and privileged place - we have access to over 200,000 visits per week through Irish websites that come from a variety of different sources - Direct, Search and Referral.
Visits from Facebook fall into the Referral variety. The % makeup between Search and Referral varies from 90% to 50%. Sometimes traffic from Direct/Referral spike with events, news, e-zines. Its all part of the rich tapestry of online traffic. Facebook accounts for less than 1%. That's an absolute fact. Many have very successful Facebook fan pages with 000's of fans. Naturally grown too.
While Facebook is an exciting, useful, fantastic tool - generating less than 1% of your traffic means that you have to generate 99% from somewhere else. Facebook is good for peer referral, peer review and a good indication of how people see your brand/product/service. Its a good traffic recycler (maybe the visitor didn't buy but he can recommend you) - but its not a core generator. Generate 100 visits from Search to get 1 Facebook fan - probably need to have 1000 really. That means a lot of work.