On one of my posts about Facebook Fan Page updates, and the outrage about the wall filtering issue, Steve Silberberg emailed me some very interesting comments. You may remember Steve, he wrote the post: Social Marketing, the Online Tupperware Party. Essentially he pointed out that Facebook is free, so do we really have a right to get uptight about some change they made? The “if you don’t like it, don’t use it” strategy.
This got me thinking about the actual cost of Facebook. It is free, so it should cost nothing right? Well, if you are using Facebook for business it is not as simple as that. The platform is free, true. But there are costs of doing business on Facebook.
The Cost of Facebook
If you use Facebook Ads, there is a direct cost. In fact, the better you ad does, the higher the cost.
- Custom Tabs
Many pages have custom landing tabs. These are specialty pages on your Fan Page that look like a mini website. Often you see them when you first visit a Fan Page. The landing tab will be custom designed, and will try to inspire you to Like their page. These cost money. Most people are not fluent in FBML, or even know what it is (it is the coding language used in Facebook, like HTML). If you do know what FBML is, then you also probably know that it is a bit cumbersome. There are programs out there like Lujure that easily allow you to design a Facebook landing page. And though they might not be expensive, they still have a cost.
- Social Media Marketing & Strategy
If you want to create a successful social media presence for your business, you need to have a strategy. Many people use social strategy firms to develop a social marketing strategy. This is an excellent way to make sure you are getting the most out of your social media.
- Social Media Manager
Many businesses hire a Facebook manager to post for them, take care of FB admin, Like new pages and respond to comments. This is a great way to make sure your social media strategy is being implemented properly.
Even if you don’t run ads, learn FBML to create your own landing tab, design your own strategy and manage your own account, the one cost you cannot get around is time. Your time has a value. Facebook engagement can take a lot of time. They payoff for your business is worth the investment, but it is still an investment.
There are other places you can invest money: app development, stores, Paypal fees for running stores or fundraisers, analytic services, etc. When you put all of these together and assume Facebook is free – well, it’s not. Free is the hook, because once you sign up for the network there is a cost. So when you ask if we, as Facebook business users, have a right to protest changes that affect our business usage in a negative way, the answer is a definite yes. We have an investment with our branding, our time and our social marketing. It is in our best interest for Facebook to operate while keeping in mind the best interests of its users. Sure you can “Just say no to Facebook” but for most of us that is not a viable option. I have invested in Facebook and I want it to work in support of my business Fan Page, not against it.