Have you ever thought about making a Facebook page the actual home page for your business? Sounds a little crazy huh? Well, maybe it isn’t so far fetched. I’ve debated the concept ever since Facebook sent some representatives to come speak at AZIMA, the Arizona Interactive Marketing Association meeting a few weeks ago.
Truth is, there is very little that a Facebook page can’t do in terms of replacing the functionality you’d have on your own web site. And, with its built in audience and advertising platform, could you actually be better off with simply having your Facebook page be your home page?
First, an observation on social networking traffic
Social media is a great way to drive traffic to your web site – it isn’t necessarily a great way to keep traffic on your site. What I have personally seen from working with many clients across multiple verticals in relation to traffic and social media is that you can generally expect a high bounce rate. This is true especially with blogs. Why is that? I think its because folks on social networks are so used to seeing direct links to articles, pictures or even video from a wide variety of sources. They are also used to tools like Twitter and Digg or even RSS readers bringing content to them that they very rarely feel the need to spend time on a site or blog. Your friends send you a link, you take a look, then leave. Its just the standard operating procedure for web users these days.
How would a Facebook page remedy this issue? Well, first, any time you have something new to post as a business (a new product announcement or press release, perhaps a contest or marketing campaign) that messaging will live on your fans news feed. Here, it will likely be seen several times before falling off the radar. More opportunities to be seen = more opportunities to be clicked upon and potentially commented on or liked, which of course will help the content live longer and be spread further.
Second, the investment of creating a Facebook page vs. a web site
Planning for and building a new web site can be incredibly expensive. Even the most bare bones sites, in terms of function, can cost up to $20,000 to get up and running. Of course, there are some free options out there for hosting your site, but most companies would want to opt for a professionally designed web site with a CMS system backended by a database. You also have hosting to consider, along with finding a lucrative domain name if you don’t already have one.
Contrast this with having your company site based on Facebook. You’ve got a great framework for working off of, and with a little effort you can recreate the functionality of a commerce site with some FBML coding. For this you might need to hire a consultant but you will still come out ahead of where you might be if you brought on a developer to retrofit an existing e-commerce application into your own web site. Once you have 100 or more fans, you are eligible to register your own vanity URL through Facebook, one of the premiere domains on the web (facebook.com/your-company). I’d also mention, if you have an existing domain name registered you can easily redirect it to your Facebook page instead.
I also took into account analytics. As a search marketer, analytics is the guide which I follow to determine campaign effectiveness or to provide direction for future search engine optimization or paid search efforts. This is one tricky spot for Facebook – you get page insights which are similar to say, Google Analytics, however you don’t get keyword searches from exterior sources (say, Google or Yahoo) nor do you get to see exits, bounce rate, top pages, etc. My guess is that you could potentially tie in Google Analytics tracking code into your own Facebook page to expose some of that data, however I’ve not personally tried it (if you have, please let me know your experience in the comments).
Third, your marketing and advertising investment
Facebook advertising, much like PPC search marketing, is incredibly cost effective. You can spend as much or little as you want, and Facebook has killer targeting. Just over the past few weeks the Facebook team added some incredible new options for advertisers to pinpoint just the people who are likely to respond to ads.
First you can now target keywords used in the past 30 days in users status updates. That is incredibly powerful, just think about it. Literally you can target keywords in conversations. Amazing. You can now also selectively include the fans (or exclude) of particular products. Let’s say I have my own breakfast treat and I want to show an ad to the approximately 775k fans of Pop Tarts – I can!
Beyond these new targeting options, Facebook advertising can be interactive. You can display videos and even become a fan of a product from an advertisement without leaving your page. You can RSVP for events or leave comments about an ad from your page too.
It really isn’t that crazy of an idea
I think that making a Facebook page your company home page is a very interesting idea. Perhaps in the future this will be the preferred way of doing things. What do you think?