This post originally appeared on the oneforty blog. It’s being reposted here as part of my blogging portfolio.

There’s been a consistent thread in the blogs and news recently where people are calling into question the true value of Facebook pages for businesses.

  • Forrester Analyst Sucharita Mulpuru says Facebook will never become a powerful eCommerce platform. Mulpuru’s study found that the average Facebook metrics are a 1% click-through rate and a 2% conversion rate. Comparatively, e-mail marketing offers an 11% click-through rate and a 4% average conversion rate.
  • Gawker offered a sassier recount of the study, delivering this takeaway: “The main problem is that Facebook treats brands a lot like people. So when you “like” a brand’s Facebook page, your newsfeed fills up with corporate adspeak, drowning out important news of what childhood friends’ babies are up to and resulting in an uneasy sense of foreboding: It’s disconcerting to see “Ford Motor Company” congratulate random people on their marriage in your newsfeed; did Henry Ford rise from the grave and bless their union, or the board of directors, or what?
  • People say don’t waste time with Facebook for your startup.

But then again…

Some food for thought:

Researchers don’t know your business or your goals

You need to have some idea of what you want to do on these platforms, use them in a way that gets the most value and scale your time accordingly. (A social media strategist can help.) Before you write of an entire platform altogether, consider that.

Here’s an example: If I was a small, local, photography business, I’d want more people in my area to see my awesome photos and hire me to take photos of their engagements and weddings and babies. I’d most definitely be cranking away at a Facebook page and leveraging the connections of my customers who were in the photos I took. Spreading awareness for that business happens to lend itself to two really popular features of Facebook – photos and tagging. I wouldn’t ignore Twitter, but I might just use it slightly differently (maybe Tweet about what photo sessions I was going to that day (@mentioning my customers of course) and Tweet links to our photo blog.) I might join other LinkedIn groups for professional photographers to learn about best practices etc, but I honestly wouldn’t make one for my business.

On the contrary, oneforty for example is a different kind of business than that. We get a ton of engagement from our LinkedIn group, but we actually get more traffic from Facebook from people sharing our blog posts there. Twitter, however, spanks both traffic source-wise.

Know Your Audience. Tools Can Help.

This is why listening in social media is so important. Find where your current and potential customers are online and really invest your time in building a presence where you see the most value for the goals you have for your business. Monitoring with Facebook is admittedly trickier. Even paid social media monitoring tools like Sysomos that pull brand mentions from Facebook can only pull from public Facebook wall posts (many users have private Facebook walls.) Kurrently is a free tool monitors your public mentions.

Paying attention to your referring sites (under Traffic Sources in Google Analytics) is another good way for you to pay attention to how people are discovering your website and see where you are getting the most value – Twitter or Facebook. Traffic is traffic, though. What are people actually doing when they get to your site? Think a little deeper about what kinds of activities people who come from Twitter or Facebook are doing. What platform offers the most value for your time spent?

Using Argyle Social, you can track how many people perform a conversion (like registering for an event, making a profile or buying something) on your website from Twitter and Facebook campaigns using in-page analytics on your website.

In conclusion, keep up on the reports and social media news regarding the value of Facebook. Read the blogs, but don’t be afraid to be skeptical about said findings. Most importantly, when your boss asks – or when you question yourself – about your presence on Facebook or any other social media platform, I think your own metrics and business goals should be the major focus of the conversation as opposed to an article you saw ReTweeted a bunch.

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