From a marketing perspective, telephony is oh so 20th century
What? Business without a phone? What is this guy on?
Look I know it sounds crazy, but like it or not, from a marketing perspective Facebook is far more valuable to the SME operator than a phone can ever be.
Get business news first
Sign up to SmartCompany’s daily newsletter
Let’s count the ways.
The very first is communicating your message to any number of interested people at any time from anywhere and without cost.
This notion is as fascinating as it is unprecedented.
In the past you really had to spend a small fortune to get your message out to a virtually unlimited number of interested prospects – typically by way of either the posted newsletter or by advertising – both of which didn’t come particularly cheap.
Now you can simply come up with something ‘postworthy’, source a relevant pic and voila – a message broadcast immediately or at the time you choose for no direct cost.
Marketing manna from heaven
This ability to broadcast to so many whenever the urge or need arises and at no cost is direct marketing manna from heaven. It simply has not been possible before.
What is also unprecedented is the ‘viral’ nature of social media. While in the past a particularly interesting message may get forwarded to another interested party, it usually involved a reasonable level of effort to do so – often too much for the recipient to bother with.
Nowadays just a click on a ‘share’, ‘like’ or ‘love’ button immediately lets hundreds or thousands of the likers’ friends know you have done so and allows them to see what it is you enjoyed so much.
More direct marketing gold.
Advertising at your fingertips
And if all these free (and admittedly declining given Facebook is limiting its reach) capabilities aren’t enough, you can boost your message or create an entirely new advertisement around it, decide how many prospects you want to send it to and distribute it – all literally at your fingertips and all for as little as petty cash.
Facebook advertising is yet another revolutionary capability that hitherto was simply not possible for the smaller business operator to plan, create, execute and measure themselves.
It’s yet another capability that is massively more convenient, timely and cost-effective than its traditional media counterparts.
Then of course there are Groups. Facebook Groups are a brilliant way of sharing your message to up to hundreds of thousands of prospects instantaneously.
Better still, Group participants are often putting out calls for suppliers like you – from plumbers to painters to candle stick makers.
Groups are my personal favourite. The ability to start or chime in on a conversation about your choice of topic is a compelling and powerful communication and profile raising capability – albeit an addictive one.
Let’s chat then
Even telephony’s core benefit – real-time, cheap one-to-one communication – can almost be matched by Facebook. Facebook’s Messenger service allows you to take the conversation ‘offline’ and conduct it privately – even if relatively few can type as fast as they speak at present.
Admittedly, the argument of Facebook vs phone is somewhat moot because nobody has to actually choose between Facebook and telephony, particularly as they are conveniently stored on the same device.
But it’s an interesting hypothesis given the phone was once seen as indispensable to the business operator and Facebook was seen as some kind of irreverent vanity accessory.
If I did have to choose between the two I’m pretty sure I know which one I would go for. And it’s not the one that has been the small business mainstay for so many decades now.
In addition to being a leading eBusiness educator to the smaller business sector, Craig Reardon is the founder and director of independent web services firm The E Team, which was established to address the special website and web marketing needs of SMEs in Melbourne and beyond.