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Warning: Facebook is Stealing Your Customers!

I know I have been on a couple of rants lately; Angie’s List, Service Magic’s high-jacking free listings and selling you your own leads, and Facebook.

Ah Facebook….

While most of my rants were aimed at companies that I think are doing it wrong for construction marketing, my problem with Facebook hasn’t been Facebook, it’s been the way contractors are using Facebook.

Mark Zuckerberg is worth a couple billion dollars because we drive traffic to his site instead of our own (yeah, I have a fan page too).

But I didn’t know how bad it was…

Until I read a stat a week or so ago that claimed that the single most popular advertising method for local businesses online was creating a free profile on a social network. And 65.7% (to be exact) used FB to create a free page for their businesses.

Now, understand the difference, creating a FB page isn’t necessarily advertising, but when companies then pay for offline marketing that promotes a FB fan page instead of their own construction website or specific landing page, I lose my mind.

I don’t want you to believe the hype

Here is what I am asking…in fact begging you to do. Don’t promote a FB fan page in your offline marketing. Instead, send people to your own site. And if your own site isn’t converting, then let’s fix it. But stop giving someone else your traffic, who then serves your competitor’s ads against your page. It’s like having people show up at your shop or store, walk through the showroom, out the back door and into Home Depot…to learn about your business.

Does that make sense to you? Yet you are paying for exactly that when you promote your Facebook fan page offline!


15 responses to “Warning: Facebook is Stealing Your Customers!”

  1. Tess Wittler Avatar
    Tess Wittler

    Agree totally with you, Darren. Another question to ask those who are pushing traffic to Facebook instead of their website is this: Of the # of Fan Pages you “like” how many of them do YOU actually visit? The answer is probably very few to none. That’s exactly what their customers are doing, too. Facebook is nice way for businesses to stay in front of consumers, but it should not be the thrust of where they send their online audience. Your website should always be the hub of all your social media efforts.

    1. Darren Avatar

      That is a great point Tess. I can’t tell you the last time I was at a fan page more than once.

  2. Kammy Thurman Avatar
    Kammy Thurman

    Darren, good points. FB shouldn’t be treated as a marketing destination, but as a starting point in a lead-generation program — with the goal of pulling those people off of FB and into your regular communication loop for further contact and nurturing.

    Too many businesses look at social media as the magic bullet for cheap marketing, and jump in with no strategy for converting those conversations into customers. That’s why they find their efforts don’t produce. Soon they get get discouraged and quit, deciding that social marketing is a fad that doesn’t work.

    On the other hand, with a sound strategy social marketing can make a significant difference to a company’s bottom line. For our clients, social media drives just as much traffic to their sites as the search engines and it’s higher quality traffic (so conversion is better) because people have already learned something about the business in social messaging, videos, articles, podcasts, etc.

  3. Remodel Crazy Avatar
    Remodel Crazy

    You made some interesting observations, We agree with it 100%, every contractor or business for that matter., should be focused on getting traffic to their websites..

    While Facebook should be a reminder to customers that your business is there and ready to serve them, it usually is not a place to convert sales..

    We find it actually to be more than a distraction than a sales or marketing tool..

    1. Darren Avatar

      I think the biggest factor is how many people visit a fan page once, never to return.

  4. CraftJack Avatar

    Hey Darren,
    Interesting thoughts here. Although part of me disagrees with you. Here’s why:

    The first thing i disagree on is the premiss that Facebook fans rarely visit the fan page and therefore it’s better to have them go to your site. Here’s my disagreement:

    First off, people who go to your website will likely only go once and forget about it. The chances of them filling out an email newsletter request, contact form, or calling you is about 10%-15% for a GOOD converting website, much worse for an average contractor website.

    The point of a Facebook fan page is that people don;t need to keep coming back to your fan page. Your news gets published to their feed and so they see your content every time they use Facebook. And getting a “Like” is WAY easier than getting a phone call or contact form on your site, especially for a well designed Facebook page.

    In fact, a Facebook fan leads to an averaged of 20 website visits per year! (http://econsultancy.com/us/blog/7694-one-facebook-fan-20-web-visits) If a contractor gets a homeowner as a fan, they are entering a long term relationship and so even if the homeowner doesn’t need work done now, they will remember you when they do because they see you in their feed a few times a week.

    Second, a Facebook page is a sign of “social proof.” I like doing business with companies that have a lot of Facebook fans. It validates my decision and makes me feel like i am working with a reputable business. It tells me that X other people like you and that makes me confident in my choice to use you.

    All that being said, I don’t think a Facebook page is a replacement for a website. But I disagree that sending your traffic to Facebook is a mistake. In fact I think it’s a great idea. If a person is going to “like” your page, chances are they will check out your website as well. And if they don;t do it right away, it’s VERY likely they will as you post good content, pictures, promotions to your Facebook page.

    Just my $0.02
    Ross Gordon

    1. Darren Avatar

      Hey Ross,

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting. The only problem I have with your statement is this: “a Facebook fan leads to an averaged of 20 website visits per year!” I read that study too and I ain’t buying it. NO ONE goes back to a regular Joe’s fan page. Maybe startbucks, maybe P&G, but not Bob the contractor from Chicago. Thoughts?

      1. CraftJack Avatar

        Yes, i definitely agree that those number may not translate for an average contractor. But I think 4-5 visits a year is reasonable IF the content is right.

        I think a local contractor needs to have a good social media content strategy, which, in my opinion, is a good balance of company updates, blog articles, promotions, profile work, and LOCAL news/deals. That will engage homeowners and get some web/blog traffic over time (maybe a few visits per follower).

        And the key is not to post too much. I followed a few contractors on twitter who tweated every 10 minutes. They were tweeting every news article under the sun. If I wanted news, I would follow the New York Times! Needless to say i stopped following them pretty quickly.

        I guess the point is that it comes down to the execution of your Facebook strategy. If you are just going to spam promotions and links to your site and not engage people in a fun or interesting way, then you may as well send them to your site and not even have a facebook page at all (A poor facebook strategy can HURT your brand. “That contractor is spamming his site in my feed! Dislike!”)

  5. Darren Avatar

    “Yes, i definitely agree that those number may not translate for an average contractor. But I think 4-5 visits a year is reasonable IF the content is right.

    I think a local contractor needs to have a good social media content strategy, which, in my opinion, is a good balance of company updates, blog articles, promotions, profile work, and LOCAL news/deals. That will engage homeowners and get some web/blog traffic over time (maybe a few visits per follower).”

    I agree totally with everything you said in the above two paragraphs…but I think the interaction should take place on your own site where you control the show, not left to Mark Zuckerberg (who changes strategies and policies monthly).

    By the way, I like the site, is there anyway a marketing guy can use your service to track prospects as well?

    1. CraftJack Avatar

      Thanks for the good discussion, I agree with your point above as well.

      As far as our lead tracking tools, they are in beta right now and only work with our lead program. We are working on a plan to release it to all contractors (for free! with premium features available like built-in call cracking numbers). It could work for marketing professionals as well, but some features like scheduling estimates may not be needed. I’ll keep you posted on our status.

      By the way, started reading through your other blog articles, you have some great stuff here. I’ll be sure to keep commenting when I think i have some valuable discussion to add.

  6. Chris Avatar

    Looks like Ross found another of my favorite haunts! Good conversation.
    Darren, Ross has been a lot of help with his LGS to a lot of painters!

    1. Darren Avatar

      Awsome! Happy to have him…good conversation!

    2. CraftJack Avatar

      Hey Chris,
      Found this post through a RC tweet. I’ve seen Darren’s name and blog linked before in other forums as well. See you back at PT 😉

      Great content on here!

  7. Brittany Clevenger Avatar
    Brittany Clevenger

    Good conversation. The only thing I agree with, Darren, is that you don’t want to dedicate ALL of your other, paid media to send people to your company’s Facebook page.


    The problem here is not driving people to your company’s Facebook page rather than your website. The problem is that you are misinterpreting what Facebook is for.

    ***Facebook should have nothing to do with generating leads for your company.***

    Facebook is called “social media” for a reason. It should be used as a place for potential customers to get to know your company, and to create your online image. I operate my company’s Facebook page to hold contests, giveaways, pose discussions, etc… Then, when I do my weekly chat with one of our radio endorsers in Cleveland, I always make sure to say “Find us on Facebook.”

    Why do I do that?

    Because people who hear me on the radio, and might be interested in our company, will hopefully go to our Facebook and —

    1. See the number of fans we have, (which is a large amount for being a local company -2500+,) and probably join the conversation because we don’t push our products down our fans’ throats.
    2. See that we have personality, and are real people. We like to have fun, and thus create a positive image in consumers’ minds.
    3. Create brand recognition. A consumer is going to remember a local company with a successful Facebook page, before they will remember one without.

    So, you see… Driving people to a company Facebook page in fact affects quite the opposite side of the spectrum. It is used for branding, and being social, creating a memorable image in the minds of consumers. NOT for selling.

    Hope you find my two cents to be useful!

    1. Darren Avatar

      Hi Brittany,

      First of all, thank you for stopping by and commenting! I agree that FB and for the majority of social media platforms, the ROI for true lead gen is limited. It is more about building brand equity which can translate into higher close rates (perceived expert status) and less pricing pressure (again, expert in field has ability to charge a bit more) to overcome. My problem is that I can’t remember the last time I went back to a fan page after visiting once. That is terrible customer engagement don’t you think?