These days I can’t get through a presentation on the use of social media in marketing without someone inquiring whether they should use Facebook as the primary web presence for their business.
“I mean, it’s free and look at all these cools tools you can add to your Fan Page.”
Let me be very clear on my thinking on this: Facebook is not the house, Twitter is not the house, your social profiles spread far and wide are not the house.
Your hub, your blog, your website—that’s the house. Build the house, fix the house, decorate the house and invite the party to the house, because it’s the one thing you can own and control. It’s an asset you can grow rather than space you simply rent.
Your activity in social media is all about building a persona and brand that draws people to the house, whether you’re a plumbing contractor, consultant, or someone that wants to create a path to a better career. Build rich and engaging hubs on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter or wherever your prospects hang out, but remember you’re always going home.
Focusing too much attention on your Facebook play is like spending a bunch of time decorating and fixing up a neighbor’s house while they are traveling Europe for a year or two. It may be a nice place to throw a party or entertain, but you don’t really own it.
An issue of control
The greatest reason I take this stance is because of control. You don’t control what’s being said, contributed and added to a social network profile like Facebook. You get to rent the space, but anytime Facebook decides it wants to remodel, you have no say.
A lot of smart online folks are raving about Facebook’s recent addition of a commenting tool that integrates with blog commenting systems like WordPress. There are a couple features with this tool that, on the surface, are alluring—comments made on your blog are automatically posted to the person’s Facebook profile for example.
However, here’s what should be the deal killer for anyone considering this tool. The comments don’t sync with your WordPress database, which is another way of saying Facebook now owns your blog comments. Facebook has done nothing that demonstrates them worthy of this kind of trust.
Keep this very important distinction in mind—you’re not a Facebook customer, you’re part of the product that they sell—and that makes all the difference in how they view you.
But, fix up the house
I hope you understand that the real house isn’t the physical real estate that I’m calling your blog or website, it’s the way you interact with customers, your email correspondence, your words, your consistency, your ease of use, your responsiveness, your use of video—all the things we’ve come to collectively call your brand.
There’s little value in working hard to attract people to the house if the foundation is cracked or the chairs aren’t cozy to sit in. You can certainly blow a bunch of cash on expensive art for the walls, but the real money might be better spent on making the house as guest friendly and comfortable as possible.
It’s just different in there
Here’s the other thing about relying on social networks as a primary commerce tool. It’s not an effective pipeline for most marketing related calls to actions. So, even the gentle come by our open house will likely fall flat.
I’ve experienced countless examples of people with huge followings promoting a book launch of even free webinar with little or no response while a mention on that same person’s blog makes the cash register ring loudly.
The porch is the bridge
Since social media relationships are so easily formed and mostly casual in nature, you must go to work on building reasons for people you engage in these settings to gather on the porch first. Do that and you’ll start to form the personal engagement to move them to the party—your blog or email list.
Most people’s marketing efforts in social media fall flat for that single reason alone. No matter how engaging your efforts seem on Facebook, they’ll never match the power of your email list or loyal blog following.
It’s not enough to get followers and fans, you must create the bridge that leads them to the house and that’s a step that eludes the social media first mindset.
Facebook and Twitter have an appropriate place in the overall brand and business building efforts, but you’ll never find your social media efforts paying off unless you invest appropriately in the house.
This post originally appeared on AMEX OPENForum
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