whoa facebook horseyWhile explaining the pro’s and con’s of SEO’ing a website, a high school friend of mine was asking me about the “true” power of Facebook.  She’s been inundated with other past clients and other associates who continue to hound her to build Facebook pages and obtain thousands of likes (if possible).  While I do believe Facebook is truly the 1000 pound gorilla on the Internet right now (and may continue to be), there are some things to consider, ESPECIALLY if you’re a small business.  Let me restate: the Facebook bandwagon is very attractive, but before you drink it’s Fool Aid…eh hem, I mean Cool Aid, make sure you do things right in all of your other parts of business first (or simultaneously, if possible).

My reasons why you shouldn’t RUSH to get FB likes (after getting 25 of course ;)):

  1. Facebook JUST recently jumped to the top (in 2010); can’t trust if they’ll be there in future years
    • In an older post I wrote about (perceptually) Facebook taking over MySpace, I show how the social networking site has literally taken over the Internet world this past year. However…
    • As fast as Britney Spears fell out of the limelight, Facebook could potentially do the same.  At least that’s what some pundits think.
    • From what I can tell though, Facebook is NOT the blond skitzo popstar, but rather the second coming of the Beatles.  They will be around at least as long as Paul McCartney has been able to stick around in one form or another.  (Did you check his last appearance on Saturday Night Live?).  The big question is whether the socially awkward CEO (isn’t this ironic?) doesn’t screw it up somehow and listens to past CEO leaders’ advice like Andy Groves in “Only the Paranoid Survive.”
    • …BUT there is a land grab going on right now as I write for Facebook page names.  As domain names have been picked up like Real Estate was being bought( just a few years ago before the bust), Facebook has semantic friendly urls you can create for your facebook page after you garner 25 fans.  A quick guide on how to create the friendly facebook page was written here.
    • At the same time the urls being somewhat valuable and much easier to punch in and find on Google, as many SEO’s know, the url is not the ONLY factor in rising to the top of the SERPs.  It’s one of many, but an important one.  Thus, the comments right above.  The land grab for Facebook urls is on.
  2. Hold up!  People haven’t even gotten used to even SEO being a smart & efficient marketing strategy
    • SEO potentially saves many companies millions of dollars in paid marketing
      • have you ever even made a simple calculation on the costs of exposure from PPC?  Click costs range from less than a dollar to as high almost $100 a click.  Insurance click through rates average about $15 to $40 a click.  Let’s do a simple calculation:  Let say there’s you rank #1-3 in a SERP (search engine results page) where you get 300 more visitors a month.  Well, in the first position, you would average click through rate of 42%+ (the following is from a study that AOL did in 2005 which recorded people’s clicking behavior in 36 million searches)
      • search click through ratesGiven the decent click through rate, you might garner 126 more visitors to your site.  If you (let’s say) had to pay the average CPC (cost per click) rate for “car insurance online”, you would be spending $5600.70 in just one month of Google Adwords (for those same 126 clicks).  Using my small business package for seo’s figure of $1200, you would recuperate your total costs of SEO in less than one week.  (Realistically though, I probably wouldn’t be helping a client for just $1200 for this keyword phrase & it might cost them more [closer to $5000 or more] to try and rank for a phrase this much in demand).  Nevertheless, it would still take a month or two at maximum to recuperate the costs and they would have many months and years (in essence) higher converting PPC like advertising for FREE!  Have you ever made $5600.70 a month for free? It would make for a compelling business plan! ***
      • Other PPC rates for local comparison are: “seattle car insurance” ($34.58), “car insurance seattle” ($17.33), “online car insurance quotes” ($61.98)***
      • Less competitive PPC rates for comparison are: “find eye doctor” ($1.53), “eye exam” ($2.81), “eye doctors” ($2.34) (note: these are the low end, but if you’ve ever used PPC, these rates and even the above ones sometimes are cheaper than actual rates) and even with the cheapest available one here, 260 searches per month X’s .42 click through rate = 109 new visitors potentially equaling $166.77 which would equate to a little over 7 months to recuperate the costs and moving forward, free advertising again!
      • Despite all these cost savings and other benefits like branding exposure, the fact that you’ll probably be ranking for more than just one phrase doubling, tripling, quadrupling and more your benefits and frankly the many other benefits of SEO like the links from sites not only improving your authority on the web, but also creating a potential click through to your website via another website, MANY BUSINESSES still fail to appreciate SEO.   If this isn’t obvious and staring at people in the face, then Facebook isn’t even close to being understood as a benefit.
  3. Different User Purpose
    • It’s critical to figure out what the purpose is of any place you market in or it will be a waste of time and money.  Let me explain:  I spent 6 years abroad in Korea.  Koreans eat out a lot and I too also spent a lot of time at restaurants.  Two very common things you would see are a) old ladies selling gum or little trinkets and b) buddhist monks making noise on their musical instruments to get the attention of the patrons.  The thing both groups failed to understand was that the people who were eating there were there to a) eat and b) socialize with the people they were with.  It wasn’t to spend extra money on purposes they probably need more time to think about.  Of course, there are many people who sympathize or support the efforts of both groups, but many people find them annoying despite it being a little old lady.  When it’s a little old lady who doesn’t stop asking you if you want something, she doesn’t remain the “friendly lady I’d love to help” anymore.  You don’t want to do that to Facebook users either.
    • Facebook has a casual social base of users.  Think about why you originally used Facebook: to look at photos, to check out updates from old friends and family and simply to do things for your personal edification.  Did you want to be sold?  Of course, Zuckerberg would like you to follow in the footsteps of Google and basically repeat what Adwords has done to Google’s stock price.  However, the progress must be slow and not too fast.  You don’t want to be a part of a group of people who turn people off from Facebook.  Facebook has already created enough enemies as is, but you don’t want to be batched into it.  You should be careful.
    • The site is not designed to find services, businesses, or other purposes as search & google has.    People focus on one thing at a time.  You’re looking at photos or commenting on something a friend said, but you’re not wanting annoying ads to sidetrack you while you’re talking to a friend.  A well built website will focus on a few purposes and do it well.  If it’s a little too much of everything, it will have a more difficult time satisfying it’s constituents.  On top of this, the user UNfriendly Bing search engine is their default search engine and fails to meet the needs like Google currently does.  Users will begin (if not doing it already) to not trust Facebook as a search tool and ignore the search box moving forward.
  4. Bing Relationship could be a stumbling block
    • Google is a company that is based on search and has multiple offerings to complement it and expand upon it.  Whereas:
    • Yahoo & Bing are companies that are based on many other business models and lines of business that includes search; search is not a primary focus & hasn’t been since the inception of either company
      • MS = windows & office; most recently xbox & mobile
      • Yahoo = never could make up their mind about search: inktomi to overture to now migrating towards bing; really bing?
    • …but Facebook has signed a lucrative deal getting funding from MS in exchange for certain rights like being the default search provider for Facebook.  Have you tried to do a search in Facebook, not looking for friends or pages?  It provides you Bing results.  Now, how often do you go to Bing instead of Google to find things?  Well, if statistics are correct, very seldom is the answer.  Why?  It’s because it doesn’t give you what you want.  If it continues to do that for Facebook, it will also fail to satisfy people who are looking to do that and as a result, people will remain focused on their socializing and probably ignore the ads on the side.  FB is trying to make the ads apply to you and I will admit that sometimes I even click on them (mostly out of curiosity b/c I like to understand all businesses), but they are not as germane as adwords ads which are targeting people with the “EXACT” ideas that are thought through the moment they are searching.  You could be thinking about Aruba when a Facebook Ad about “How to become more efficient at work” ad comes up.  It’s not the same mindset and you won’t be clicking on it despite Facebook thinking it works for you because you’re a very effective company owner which that ad might apply to.  However, if you’re searching for “Aruba” in Google, ads for Aruba hotels, airfare deals, etc. will pop up and you will more likely be clicking on those.
    • More importantly, if Facebook repeats what Microsoft has done in the Search world, they may be following in the footsteps of business practices that don’t make consumers happy.  Do you want to be looped into that group as well?
    • SEO will be MORE important than Facebook unless you truly believe Facebook will overtake Microsoft, Yahoo & Google combined.  Wanna bet?
      • I’m a gambling man.  Ask my friends.  However, as gamblers usually end up, they either become more conservative & strategic and survive/succeed or they continue to gamble and lose everything.  Fortunately, I’m in the former category.  Despite being conservative, I would bet a lot on the future of google.  As I pointed out in the 4th point, but Google is a company (despite it’s lack of customer service & employees who are all losing motivation due to all their stock options vesting) which is FOCUSED on search.  Facebook is not.  Microsoft is not.  Neither is Yahoo.
      • Until people stop liking how search functions as pull marketing (unlike “pushy marketing”), SEO will be around forever.  It may migrate to mobile, but that’s the only change I see on the horizon.
      • As I mentioned in the first main point about Facebook’s urls getting eaten up by omnicient SEO’s & domainer like types…it still doesn’t matter because the other 199+ factors in SEO still are more important than just the url.  It’s like buying a piece of property which has the ability to gush out oil, but not buying all the equipment to pull the oil out of the ground, finding the investors to help you distribute it and so on.  Moreover, you are totally dependent on Facebook’s SEO efforts.  What if they fail to do what Google wants on a very critical level?  What if Google or Yahoo or even the big investor in Facebook Bing start making decisions that could adversely affect ALL Facebook urls?

    I don’t have any problems with jumping on the Social Media bandwagon, but just be careful in the time you invest in it and make sure it’s a longer term strategy.  You’ll never go from “good to great” if you jump on every trend that is in your way on your path to successful marketing.

    Before writing this post/article, I decided I would use my “gut feelings” about the whole idea just as I did with my High School friend.  The reasons came out of my mouth as natural as I’ve explained the past 10 years of my life.

    It simply makes sense to be wary.

    One thought on “Facebook is (potentially) the new SEO, but…

    1. Agree with your analysis, but the Facebook sites seem so cheap / easy to put up. What’s the harm in quickly throwing up a site for your small business? Or rather, are you saying it’s not necessarily worth the effort to get the 1,000 “likes”?

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