Many of the ads I see on TV these days are asking people to visit their Facebook page instead of their website. What’s with that? Sending prospects to an open, cluttered forum where the brand has less control? To me it is sheer madness and illustrates how little the major agencies, (especially those that put together TV campaigns) know about online and how it works.
This sort of crazy strategy is promoted online too. A recent article on Webpronews entitled “People Prefer Branded Facebook Pages to Branded Websites“. Their survey indicated that “50% of people find brands’ Facebook pages more useful than their websites” Somehow 50% implies a preference for Facebook.
Firstly, what sort of people. what sort of Facebook pages and what sort of Websites are we comparing here? It’s likely more a reflection on how bad business websites are today than any intrinsic benefit a facebook page provides.
How bad is your website? Checkout Websitegrader.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m a big fan of Facebook, but sending prospects from offline media to Facebook pages alone, as opposed to their website has me beat. I can’t think of a reason why anyone would or should do it.
It would actually be logical to display both their Facebook and website url, then let the consumer decide – Monitor and track things to see what is actually working and with whom. Our research tells us that in most industry sectors, most will go to the website first.
Website First, then onto Facebook
Firstly, Facebook is a big forum site, not a normal website used for branding or promotion. We also cannot as easily brand the site or guide or track visitor activity. Sure, it can be really good for viral marketing campaigns in some retail sectors and a great way for existing customers to either praise the product or let of steam.
In fact there’s a lot of research that tells us that Facebook is best used to engage existing customers. allow them to share their stories, even provide referrals. The company website is way better for lead generation and for getting new customers via search.
So, if a company wants to utilise the power of Facebook, then get new visitors to go to a special landing page on the website first, with an offer, then links through to Facebook to checkup on their ‘fan base’ and talk from happy customers that already use their product or service. This is logical.
The other reason for this strategy, is that unlike your own website, Facebook have rules around what you can and cannot do in terms of business promotions on their pages – Remember, it’s THEIR SITE, not yours. Most are totally unaware of these limitations. In fact for a while, if Facebook detected a graphic that looked like it was a promotion, it would downsample the image and make it almost unreadable.
It’s not a Facebook vs Website thing here. It’s about doing what makes business sense.
But as an initial destination, most of the Facebook pages I see do not give a good first impression. It’s a bit like trying to have a conversation with a new client at a football match. There’s often too much going on around you.
The other thing is that most of the TV campaigns I see make no provision to account for those that come via a TV ad. There’s nothing to help track and engage those specific customers. Note this is a problem with normal websites too, but only because those that run these sites are too lazy or uninformed to setup a specific landing page.
Strategy or just too lazy perhaps?
Maybe I’m reading too much into this. Perhaps sending them to Facebook wasn’t a strategy at all? Perhaps the marketing manager found it just too hard to have the website updated for the TV campaign. Perhaps there was only money allocated for the TV ad, not a website makeover that complemented the TV promo. This is common. Facebook is certainly the easy, zero cost option.
Some marketing people tell me that they get more inquiries from Facebook than their website so therefore Facebook is the place to send people. Often though, this is more a reflection of how bad their website is in terms of design and usability, than the fact that Facebook is superior in some way. You need a good modern CMS Website, as well as a good Facebook page.
Sadly, there’s no excuse for a bad ‘static brochure’ website today as content managed (CMS) websites have never been cheaper or more flexible now that we’ve tools like WordPress available. And WordPress can interact with Facebook in ways that will astound… Still, as a marketing tool that brings in sales, Facebook I believe is somewhat over-hyped…. What say you?