Software is the new snake oil. At the click of a button, you have 1 million fans, incredible engagement, sales coming out of your ears, and your car parked for you. Only that last one is true, by the way. Just because there are more than 1 billion users on Facebook, doesn’t mean your Facebook page has Field of Dreams on all of them. So let’s look at the most common fibs things by tool providers in our space. Nod knowingly or comment below if you recognize them.
1. If you put up this ecommerce app, your sales will go through the roof.
Reality: Landing page tabs died ever since the ability to select default tabs went away. A shopping cart on a website is no different than a shopping cart on Facebook — you still need to drive traffic. Your reach likely got permanently hammered a few months ago, too.
2. You just need more fans.
Reality: This is the oldest lie in the book, because it’s so easy to peddle to novices. Junk fans are no good without a follow-on strategy to nurture and convert. Have you mapped out your customer journey, or are your fans just dead-ending?
3. Our software does it all for you.
Reality: Tricky, since software can install templates and follow rules, but it cannot create content, respond to customers, or provide strategy. Bid automation or ad multiplication on Facebook ads is a neat feature, but only when your creative is solidly tested and you’re already in a fine-tuning phase. The coolest app is nothing without traffic. Being clever is underrated. Someone should figure out a tool that does this. If you’re an agency or consultant, you are not exactly worrying about going out of business any time soon because of software.
4. Automated analysis.
Reality: Never make a report again, get incredible insights. Only humans can analyze data, but a machine can create graphs and pie charts. Yet finding humans who can interpret what’s going on, and then take action, on is a challenge. The introduction of new data usually leads to more work, not less, since it raises more questions. Gloomy, I know, but the bright side is you’re making more profit!
5. Super duper sentiment scoring.
Reality: The top brands manually score and respond to all interactions. Irony and sarcasm are tricky, and every industry is different. There are guys like Crimson Hexagon that are decent with self-learning, but text mining has a long way to go. They’re competing with the guys who are finding a cure for cancer. My money is on the cancer guys.
6. Fans are worth $1.07.
Reality: You might as well say that a visitor from Google is worth that same amount. Your fans are worth only as much revenue as they generate for your specific company. That’s hard to measure, since multitouch attribution techniques are still formative. If you’re not looking at attribution methodologies here, you’re not in the game.
7. You should post at X o’clock with exactly 124 characters.
Reality: While you’re at it, close your eyes, spin three times, and say “red rum” over and over. Every company has a different audience base to push their unique selling proposition. Would you believe me if I told you that you could walk into a bar, mumble a certain phrase at a certain time, and walk out with a new wife? We’re dealing with live humans, not products that are bought and sold.
8. If you do what big brand X did, you’ll achieve similar results.
Reality: If you’re already known in the real world, people are more likely to connect with you on Facebook. We’re talking about a true fan here, not a Facebook fan. That’s why you generally can’t trust case studies — they won’t apply to you.
9. Do just this one technique and you’ll be rich.
Reality: Except for pure-play gaming companies, success on Facebook is really just amplification of fundamentals you have already mastered on the Web and offline media. Social is like the moon is to the sun — a reflection.
10. Follow this 10-step plan.
Reality: You wouldn’t go to a doctor that gave everyone the same prescription, regardless of his or her unique condition, would you? Don’t follow someone else’s exact plan, unless you believe in the placebo effect. You must own the strategy — no consultant, no matter how smart, can do it for you.
Readers: Any that we’ve missed?
Dennis Yu has helped brands grow and measure their Facebook presences. He has spoken at Search Marketing Expo, Search Engine Strategies, Web 2.0, The American Marketing Association, PubCon, Conversational Commerce Conference, Pacific Conferences, HostingCon, Affiliate Summit, Affiliate Convention, UltraLight Startups, MIVA Merchant, and other venues. Yu has also counseled the Federal Trade Commission on privacy issues for social networks. Yu has held leadership positions at Yahoo and American Airlines. His educational background is finance and economics from Southern Methodist University and London School of Economics.