Is Facebook Marketing a Waste of Time?

February 5, 2011
posted by sheric

the sales process funnel

It was a question posed in the comments of a Mashable article on tablet commerce and how much ecommerce is happening via tablets and via social sites like Facebook. A Forrester Research poll was highlighted in the article showing “less than 40% [of retailers] have been able to’quantify the return on this investment [social networks], and even fewer have found that social networks grow their business. To the degree that retailers find any benefit at all from social strategies, it is most frequently driven by tactics like ratings and reviews on a website rather than activities on social networks… Social networks, in fact, ranked dead last on a list of 10 customer acquisition tactics.” It leads me to question, is Facebook a good place to be selling?

As a retailer, and if you are trying to sell DVD’s/downloads you are a retailer, I don’t think it is a good place to focus on selling or to make sales from the site. Selling is of course your ultimate business goal, but Facebook and other social platforms are places where people go to socialize, spend time with their friends, share pieces of their lives. Do you think that is a good time to solicit your products, interrupt the experience by shoving merch in someone’s face saying “buy this?” Would you do that in real life, go to a backyard barbeque with a trunk full of DVDs and walk around the yard asking people to buy one? Some of you might, but then you would never be asked back. Likely, you would go to the barbeque and socialize, subtly finding out who are the likely buyers of your product, you might even give them a card (if they ask, and they will if interested) to continue this conversation and get additional information in another location. You have to look at this as a process where social networking is at the initial contact and ongoing fact finding phase. There are many tools in the sales arsenal, all with a different purpose. Use the right tool for the job.

Social networking sites are for acquiring and cultivating relationships. Generally in the sales cycle, this is the top of the funnel. You should start a sales process by inviting people into your funnel. How do you do that? You research and find the most likely people interested in what you will be selling. Initially this could be a wide, diverse group. This is  best done long before you are actually ready to sell something (preproduction/production). You will be moving these people through the funnel on the way to buying something, but it will be a slow process and not all of them will end up buying. That’s why the funnel starts out big at the top and narrows down. Lots of people will initially be interested and gather in the top part. As the process wears on and you start to hone in on the ones most interested in what you are selling, the amount of people reduces. Facebook and the like are for your initial gathering, the tool to use at the start of your process.

The next phase will lead them to your website where the conversation continues, but not everyone will make that transition. Some may continue to only hang out on your FB page, some may fall away completely. You still have to have a presence there. Some may do both and these are likely your best customers, the people most enthusiastic about your work. They will bring others to the page and speak so highly of their involvement with you, they will help transition the community to the website. Take special care of these people.

As you continue to build and foster your audience on social networking platforms like Facebook, try to resist the urge to hurry them along through the sales process. Someone who feels rushed (or used) to buy something will not stay long on your page. Film is a luxury product, the sales process will be longer and it will start with a relationship. A tab pointing the way to your website or store will serve to guide them to the next phase but should NOT be the landing page of your Facebook presence. People come to your page to find others, meet you, see what the project is all about, starting the relationship process. Don’t close off that communication by virtually saying “unless you are here to buy, we don’t want you here.” As the survey shows, audience/customers rarely buy on Facebook, but they do check you out there which is the first step in the sales process.