Why rural businesses should think about cooling things with Facebook

 Facebook, Social media  Comments Off on Why rural businesses should think about cooling things with Facebook
Oct 172012
Is it time to look for a more discerning audience?

Facebook is changing. Should you review your use of it as a marketing tool?

A tourism business I was working with today is dismayed about Facebook reducing the visibility of feeds from business pages like hers. Now to get visibility you have to either try and understand the new algorithm and work out how to increase the edgerank of your posts or bite the bullet and give Facebook some dosh to promote your stories or advertise your business.

Is it time to say goodbye to Facebook?

Facebook is a business, like any other, and can’t be blamed for wanting to monetize the gigantic quantity of content its users generate every second. So while Facebook experts will no doubt find ways to help us all navigate the new parameters, maybe there is a wider issue to consider.

The latest changes on Facebook made me think about the content we all publish. Original photos, articles, videos or even collections of links or pin boards that many rural and farm businesses create are highly valuable. Is it time to withdraw our services as unpaid authors and photographers?

By posting original content to Facebook you share it but also lose control of it.

If Facebook disappeared tomorrow, where would all that information go? Unless you back up every post or use a site like Archive Book, your posts are lost for ever.

Maybe it’s time to reduce the resources you put into Facebook

Rather than cut all ties with this phenomenally powerful networking platform, I think it is time to review the relationship. When I talk to graduates about using social media for career development, I often recommend creating an electronic hub or e-hub. A central place for all your original content (backed up to your hard drive). The best way to do that is to set up a blog. Blogger and WordPress are just two sites that offer free blogs.

Here you can post all your original content, then set up automated posts to Facebook and Twitter to promote the new content. There’s a kind of sweet justice:  if Facebook wants to charge businesses to promote content, then perhaps you should withdraw your services of providing free, original content. Why not save it for a more deserving audience?

Without control of data and contacts your online relationships are vulnerable

I’ve been concerned for some time, that social media platforms collect contact information without sharing those precious email addresses with us the users.

At my Email Marketing Workshops, I often cite the fact that on social media sites, you have no access to the actual email addresses of your fans, followers or contacts. Whereas if you encourage people to sign up to your email list, they freely give you their email address and you can contact them directly even if the online platforms disappear.

So by all means continue to use Facebook but take control of your original content by publishing it to your own platform. Encourage friends and followers to subscribe to your email list by including an email sign up form on every platform.

I see social media sites as a good place to publicise your content, using specific keywords to attract followers who are looking for businesses like yours. Post snippets with links to your photos, videos or articles. Comments and status updates are fine but perhaps we should be a little more choosy over where we publish our unique, valuable content. The valuable comments and engagment you get from followers and fans can easily be streamed to your blog (or website), so that it is contributing to the content on your e-hub.

A more sustainable, long term response is to build a more engaged tribe elsewhere. Liking pages is an easy low commitment action. Signing up to a blog shows a little more interest. Whereas subscribing to an email list is a definite, “I want to hear about your business.” In the end, aren’t those the “fans” you want to engage? As a rural or farm business, you only have so many hours in a day. How many of them do you want to spend producing free content for shareholders of a company that doesn’t pay tax in the UK?