Alberta Small Businesses and entrepreneurs are missing the big picture when it comes to the future of shopping and buying online in the post-COVID19 world. In their effort to become relevant and get on the social media bandwagon, businesses are failing to see how the local marketing landscape is changing.
Let me start by stating Facebook and other social media can be very effective for businesses seeking to grow their business to reach new potential customers. In the last 10 years Facebook has been one of the best places to invest time and effort to benefit from the massive engagement that the site has managed to generate.
The problem with marketing on Facebook is that like anything else there is a cycle and the best days of this method are already behind us. It's common knowledge that the Facebook Algorithm and news feed algo has been changed drastically forcing small businesses that want to reach their own audiences to "pay to play". That's right, those same businesses that paid for Facebook ad campaigns to get "Likes" are now being forced to pay for ads to reach the same audience they already paid for. And this is just the beginning, there have already been 2 algorithm changes in as many years that change how posts from business pages reach local audiences.
The reason this matters should be obvious, the long term cost of conversion is not only going up, but it is also a perpetual system designed to make businesses reliant on these social media platforms to reach their own customers. The second and less obvious problem is that these businesses are opening the door for their own competitors to leverage the same social platform against them by marketing directly to customers.
The solution is for entrepreneurs to think longer-term about how they will engage their audience, reach their customers, and take control of their user experience. This could be through a comprehensive e-mail list and newsletter, eCommerce site, or a great website or App that is remarkable and brings people back to their own platform.
I'm not suggesting that small businesses not use Facebook or Instagram, what I am saying is that they need to think about how they can use these more effectively.
3 Simple Rules for Entrepreneurs Using Social Media
- Always use Facebook or Instagram to drive visitors to your own Website or APP - Remember that the goal is to create conversions, regardless of whether that means making a sale, signing up a new user, having potential customers connect or sign up to your newsletter.
- Never send your Audience to these Social Media Platforms - Avoid training your users or potential customers to look for you on social media instead of going to the platform your control. You will lose them to other pages or ads that will distract them.
- Be obsessed with making your User Experience Better - One of the reasons people flock to Facebook is because they are familiar with the site and feel like they can find what they want. Your App or Website should be stupidly simple and answer all the questions your typical user would be asking. Do something remarkable that makes your platform worth sharing with other potential customers.
The noise on social media is increasing, the competition is fierce, and Facebook is becoming the local Amazon marketplace which is very dangerous for not only small businesses but also Alberta's economy. Alberta need's it's own Marketplace, something locally owned and operated. Small businesses in Alberta need to build their own ad networks, eCommerce sites, and marketing platforms so there isn't a big tech company sucking up all of the profit.
If you are interested in being a part of an Alberta marketplace, perhaps a "Local Amazon" or buy and sell platform like TownPost we would love to hear from you (contact us here). I believe this concept is inevitable and I hope for the sake of Alberta's future small business and entrepreneurs that we can crowdsource our own solutions and look beyond the Facebook monopoly.