We give props to Groucho Marx as we discuss more online Marketing strategies this week. Time magazine wrote about a Small Business seminar that Facebook recently hosted in NYC. Once again, business owners were complaining that reaching out to their customers on Facebook was getting harder – only 6% of business owners customers are seeing their posts online, according to one study.
If you’ve been a part of the Internet “club” for a while, this should not surprise you. I was a very early user of eBay – I remember my excitement at being able to sell fairly esoteric household items and computer gear at amazing prices in the early days. It was relatively easy to reach the target audience I wanted to reach and there was very little noise on their network. Now? I can list something 3 times in a row and not getting a single bid or request for information. In short, the competition and audience have grown to a level that it’s just too busy and noisy to stand out without doing something outrageous or unusual – which typically means paying for a prime spot on their site or paying to highlight my listing.
The exact same thing is happening on Facebook. It’s gotten too “crowded” where they’ll let anybody in, so what’s the sense of being part of that club? More specifically, what’s the sense of exclusively being part of Facebook? The returns will continue to get lower and you will need to pay more each year to have the same “reach” you had previously.
There’s one main theme here that small business owners should not overlook. The most effective online channels are intimate. They include people who naturally want to hear your message. You want those people to tell their like minded friends about this channel, so it builds organically with people that are targeted for you. A channel where your message will be heard and you can control the growth. You can still “chat” on these large and popular networks as well – you might grab a person or two once in a while. Why not do both – create content and collaborate with your community in an intimate way, and at the same time share that information with the more crowded communities? After all, if you’re going to get 6% traction on your Facebook posts, you can still do that, but also make sure you start someplace where you’re getting much better results.