Facebook announced a new app that aims to streamline communication between small businesses and their customers. Called Facebook Business Suite, it merges Facebook, Messenger, and Instagram into one place, allowing users to make posts and receive messages and notifications from a centralized hub. While the app will probably be useful, it also serves as a good reminder for small business owners to take a look at how they’re marketing outside of Facebook.
It looks like Facebook is trying to further enmesh small businesses in their ecosystem. In the announcement blog post, COO Sheryl Sandberg said, “We’re building Facebook Business Suite for small businesses first.” The app won’t expand to larger businesses until some time in 2021.
We think it’s great that Facebook is making it easier for small business owners to market themselves. If you use these platforms, this app will benefit you. And make no mistake, you should be using them. With more than 2.7 billion people on Facebook and 1 billion on Instagram, there’s an opportunity to get a ton of eyes on your company.
At the same time, you want to be careful that you don’t let your business become too reliant on Facebook. There’s a real cost for businesses that fail to define their brand on their own website, away from the social media giant.
Can A Small Business Over-Rely on Facebook Marketing?
Because of how ubiquitous Facebook is, some small businesses have come to rely on it at the expense of their own online brand. There’s a portion of companies — mostly places like restaurants — that only use Facebook and have no other web presence. That’s a mistake.
About two years ago, Facebook changed its algorithm to boost content from friends and family members and decrease contact from brands. That made it harder to create effective advertising. And with more than 40 million small businesses on Facebook, competition for potential customers is constantly getting fiercer. It’s a busy place, even with the more streamlined communication options.
You Want to Get People Onto Your Website
The more you rely on Facebook for advertising, the harder it becomes for your domain to rise in Google’s rankings. But if you can create a website that’s easy to use and full of quality content, you’ll generate traffic to your website and increase your website’s domain authority and relevance for Google. It’s a time-consuming process, but one that will grow your business more over time, compared to if you lean heavily on social media.
There are other advantages to using your company’s website instead of Facebook:
- Customers can give you their email addresses. Email marketing — in the form of newsletters and B2B communication — still has the highest ROI, according to the Data and Marketing Association.
- There’s an aesthetic advantage. Your website will look the way you want it to. It’s tough to build a brand while relying on the limited customization of a Facebook Business page.
While it’s true that creating a Facebook Business page is free, other options are becoming more affordable. Google, for example, recently began allowing businesses to run free retail ads on its main search page.
Try Facebook Business Suite, But Be Sure to Maintain a Well-Rounded Marketing Approach
You should use Facebook and Instagram to give your marketing efforts a wide reach, and it appears that Facebook Business Suite will only make that easier. But don’t let the massive user base on those platforms cause you to neglect your company’s brand away from them. The relationship between having lots of followers on social media and revenue isn’t as direct as it might seem. An effective marketing strategy requires investment in a website that customers will be able to find and use.