This is the eternal question of small business owners; "Do I really need a Facebook page for my business?". Often, this question is chased up with statements such as "I think Facebook is for people with too much time on their hands. I can't stand it/ cant' see the point". 

Here's the thing, two things can be true at once. It is not an unsupported statement that Facebook is the domain of people with time to waste. This fact is borne out by the stats that suggest that the average Facebook user spends three times more time on Facebook than on any other website.

Worldwide, there are currently 2 billion (yes, you read that correctly), Facebook users. Australia alone accounts for 16 million of them. And (wait for it), 85% of Australian consumers are on Facebook.

You might say that that represents a hell of a lot of bored people. Alternatively (if you are on the lookout for opportunities), it is a lot of your potential customers glued to their Facebook accounts for huge chunks of time, every single day of the week.

So, in answer to the first question; "yes, you probably do need a Facebook page for your business". That is, if you are serious about taking your business to the people in your market.

But a word to the wise; Facebook is no longer the warm, fuzzy, 'get loads of free traffic' platform that it was, back in the day before it was publicly listed. Today's Facebook has shareholders who expect a return on their investment. So the advertising interface has become a sophisticated but powerful tool to help business owners achieve their advertising goals on the platform. Understanding how the interface works, and matching it with your advertising goals is imperative to achieving the results you are looking for, and not burning through your entire marketing budget at lightening speed.

It is also no longer the case that you can pitch your wares incessantly on your business page and expect to gain traction. Display ad style images with specific offers are extremely common now on business newsfeeds. But Facebook has recently developed technology which is intended to assist sight impaired users to access Facebook. It works by using artificial intelligence algorithms to detect basic features in the image, and create a new alt text that a screen reader will share with the user,  basically describing what is in each photo. So Facebook can now differentiate between a plain image, and an image overlaid with promotional text. And guess what? Facebook will not be showing your ad to anyone in particular, any time soon. Not until you cough up some dollars.

In general, Facebook and it's users in 2018 are unforgiving of business owners who relentlessly post material that is pitchy. Get this very clear (very fast). People are NOT on Facebook to buy stuff. I know that it seems like this is the opposite of what I have been talking about. But buying is not on their mind when they log in. They are there to socialise, share stuff, connect with friends, watch stuff that interests them and (frequently), boast about their lives/ children/ holidays/ sporting achievements/ breakfast/ weight loss etc etc. So our general rule of thumb is that only roughly one post in seven should contain blatantly promotional content. And you have to be ready to pay to promote it.

What do you post the other six times? Stuff that is interesting/ useful/ valuable/ engaging/ or entertaining to your target market. Here's the number one rule of Facebook for business (in my opinion) ... it's not about you. I mean it. People genuinely do not care about you or your business. Some laws are universal and timeless for a reason, and when it comes to marketing your business, people only ever care about what's in it for them. You can't go too far wrong if you stick to this simple rule.

So to recap ... yes, you need to show up on Facebook if you are in business, but you need to get educated very quickly about how to take advantage of the advertising interface to maximise your ad spend, and you you need to develop a content strategy that is interesting and engaging to your target market so that they stay interested in your business. Stick to these principles and you can't go too far wrong.

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