When was the last time Facebook made you feel good about being on their site? How much worse do you feel using Facebook despite the fact that you know they are unequivocally anti-gun?
It’s no secret that Facebook is not friendly towards guns and gun owners. Yet we stay attached to them because we justify some value that gives us enough reason to stick around, real or imagined.
In my own experience I quit using Facebook a handful of times, only to be drawn back into habitual use because I run a business and Facebook is “Free Marketing”. But there are several reasons why Facebook not nearly as valuable as a business resource as we tend to think it is.
First and foremost, Facebook is quickly becoming Myspace. I’m not talking about customized pages that induce seizures. I’m talking about relevance. There is plenty of evidence that less people are checking their timeline and instead posting their lives to the Gram. Instagram is quickly catching up to social relevance that Facebook has enjoyed for so long. Instagram is easier to use, loads faster, and gives users the filter options that Facebook has never really been able to capture.
But there is another problem that all social media platforms are going to have to face sooner or later. The two income models that you depend on when you run a free service is selling Advertising and selling your personal data (to advertisers). Social media advertising is not cost effective, for many reasons. Many companies that rely on this income have been caught cooking their traffic numbers and employing click farms oversees to rip off their own advertisers. Online advertising has been around longer than a generation and still hasn’t found a road map that actually works. What does this mean for Facebook? Where do I begin?
Facebook has always been a closed system. You cannot participate without signing up. This boosts their membership numbers, in turn creating higher ad revenue. But as the younger generation starts to reject forced participation, Facebook has to choose between trying to stay relevant and losing their grip on their content, or staying in a walled garden and losing customers. Neither option presents good long term options for Facebook.
In addition, in order to keep revenue generating customer data Facebook must continue to resort to shady practices to collect the data that they promise to their advertisers. This pisses off users. And you also can’t collect data if people are not using your service. This isn’t exactly unique to Facebook, but they do take all the heat for it.
All social media platforms will eventually implode, but Facebook is at the head of the line. They will coast on inertia for a while, but it won’t be long before they will be the butt of jokes…that your grandma is telling. Even if they do manage to survive, there are other important reasons to quit using them to market your business.
There is a sad fact that many people who use Facebook to promote their business just do not understand, most people ignore your business just like they ignore most other advertising. Exceptions aside, Likes DO NOT equal conversions. It’s easy to get caught up on followers, friends, likes and emoticons, but unless you are converting real sales it’s mostly useless.
You might be saying, “But I rely on Facebook for people to find me.” The truth is that most people do not find businesses on Facebook before they use them. They find them after they use them. My business has a little over 7,600 followers and the huge majority of them only found us after we had a business relationship. No this is not always true, but it’s far more true than you probably know.
Another reason not to use these services, especially for your firearm based business, is these companies don’t want you on their sites. They only put up with you as long as it didn’t hurt their revenue. When Moms Demand Action starts leaning on advertising dollars, these companies fold to the pressure and kick you to the curb. All the effort you spend to build your social media presence goes up in smoke. You never paid for the service and so you have no recourse other than to flock to another platform to bitch about it. The irony is that this strategy ends up costing them money in the long run and yet they do it anyway. I’m not sure I would trust the future of a business that makes those kinds of decisions.
So what are you to do? Unfortunately your options are limited by how much time and money you are willing to spend. Believe it or not, billboards do still work. Television ads do still work. Handing out business cards at the gun show does still work. Employing professional services that know how to market your business does still work. Personal interactions and relationship building does still work. Why did we abandon them? Because we were offered the siren song of free services like Facebook. You get what you pay for.
The good news is that these old school methods are being slowly reborn. And the faster you adopt them, the better the edge you have on your competitors who are unaware or unwilling to do the work.
Here’s where I get to pitch Firearms Training Central. We are professionals who understand marketing and how to help your business attain real growth. Businesses that list with us will get that personal attention that we fundamentally gravitate to as social animals. We work for you because we care about firearms training. We work for you because we believe in what we are doing.
The stronger this industry is without the help of companies like Facebook, the more immune we are from pests like Shannon Watts and Ladd Everitt. These people rely on outside dollars to create pressure on our tribe. When we derive value from each other, inside our tribe, we grow stronger overall. Yes it costs money to build a business. But as my grandfather used to say to his customers, you can have fast, cheap and good, but you only get to have 2 of them.