Facebook – is it “over” for small business?

I sat through a great webinar Tuesday from Mari Smith on “Facebook 2012”. Mari, in her inimitable style, talked seamlessly for an hour on the State of Facebook and how small businesses needed to adapt their social media plan to suit all the current and impending changes. It really was great with lots of useful advice and interesting data – did you know that 80% of people who received a response from a “brand” on Facebook go on to make a purchase?

But I left the webinar really sad because I think it might really be over for small businesses and Facebook. What’s more I was reminded of a quote from the great Yogi Berra “Nobody goes there anymore. It’s too crowded.” With an expected 1 billion members by August, is Facebook is really getting too big to be useful to small businesses?

Gone are the days when any small business could get a presence on Facebook, engage with their fans on a regular basis and reap the benefit of a truly two way social relationship. Now to stay afloat small businesses have to concern themselves with (in no particular order):

  • Posting frequency – every hour is probably too much, but every other day is probably too long
  • Posters generally expect a response to their post within an hour
  • Not delegating their voice to a 3rd party in case it seems impersonal
  • Focusing on proactive growth, because a few hundred likes aren’t really enough anymore, you need thousands of fans to make it worthwhile otherwise your voice won’t be heard
  • Not being stale with just one type of update – people expect a variety of posts
  • Checking their “metrics” on a regular basis – ensuring that the right type of message is getting through to the right type of people.
  • Pay-to-play – you run the risk of losing your own fans unless you reach out to them via ads

Crap! Who has time for this stuff? Certainly none of the small business people that I speak to on a regular basis. They are too busy with life, work and family to get that deep in Facebook and other social media. So unless you can dedicate a small staff to keep up with all of this I can see the writing on the wall for small business owners – they are going to put their energies elsewhere. Facebook will continue to get more crowded with bigger brands and passers-by but small business people just won’t be there.

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