Facebook – We’re here to help…

“Sometimes it’s best to talk to a real, live person about your business marketing options.”

I couldn’t agree more with the statement Facebook’s business potential customers find themselves greeted with when they visit the social network “Get Help” for business page. Indeed I was delighted to also find a phone number on the page and being offered so willingly the chance to ask that one question I didn’t seem to be able to find an answer to in the rather comprehensive social network FAQ guide.

So I was taken aback, having made the call, when I found myself listening to a selling pitch for the best part of five (yes a whole five!) minutes.

Facebook is a global brand, which, in theory, should be a perfect channel for small businesses that want to think big. And be able to provide the sort of support, which should allow small businesses to flourish within a reasonably short space of time, at a rate they can afford. That seems to assume that the rate they can afford is £900! Only once you have committed to that budget, will the business staff at Facebook make themselves available.

Now it may well be that they have tips and secrets which will make your business flourish in a very short time. Does that mean it’s worth £900? And this “free” support Facebook is providing, is apparently to back the British government’s drive to help small businesses. Or so I was told by the sales representative. And when I asked whether I would get an answer to my question without going through the scheme, his reply was simple. “Facebook can’t afford to answer questions all day long for nothing.” I don’t think Mark Zuckerberg is strapped for cash, do you?! So there it is. Facebook can afford to give me a sales pitch for a whole 5 minutes but can’t afford to answer a question – something which would have probably taken the best part of 60 seconds. How having to commit to a £900 campaign to enjoy “Free” support (as the representative kept pointing out) is helping UK small businesses, I will never know.

In essence, it is what they don’t do, that we have to pay for! Unlike Google who will happily provide guidance over the phone – even for £50 AdWords campaigns – Facebook don’t seem to impart information, so that small businesses can progress, without charging the kind of money few can afford those days.

Yet one of the advantages of Facebook advertising is that it enables any business to target their audience however they need to, and be very specific as to who the campaign is going to reach; potentially making their advertising budget work harder. And one of its key benefit is that it let’s them reach the audience in the comfort of their own home, at a time when they’re likely to be “off guard” and therefore more receptive or at least open to the idea…

This means small businesses can afford to advertise on the channel and expect good return. Better, it’s easy to start small to test a campaign before committing to a larger campaign. That is if you understand how to use Facebook advertising widgets. If not, you’re at the mercy of their sale staff and may have to fork out £900 to get that precious support. I think not…

The answer seems to be: do your research and – preferably – try and find the answer yourself via other channels such as Twitter, LinkedIn Groups, blogs or forums. And network with people you trust, who will actually quote a reasonable price for the service they provide. If you can help another small business, then do it. Especially if it can be done in such a way that it should not impact negatively on your own. In fact, it may be helpful to team up with another business or two, to try and grow your businesses alongside them, using the skills that each of you have.

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