Paul McAleer

Facebook isn't bad for small business.

Paul McAleer

I have a draft in my pile talking about all of my Facebook squeamishness, and where I think they may be going. That draft may never crystalize into a single post; instead, I’d like to examine some of the individual pieces. This was spurred on by a great post by Chris O’Donnell.

My big thoughts and assumptions going into these post(s):

  1. Facebook will eventually go away. It’ll likely be superseded by another technology, product, or both.
  2. Facebook kind of sucks. I don’t particularly enjoy using it, but like many people I enjoy the connections with people.
  3. Facebook is the internet on the internet. All of the internet’s key consumer features (email/messaging, blogging, photo sharing, video sharing, etc.) are present and accounted for.
  4. Facebook may lose on mobile.

All right. That said, I think Facebook currently is great for small businesses. Building a website had been the mainstay of local web designers for years, but now Facebook covers a lot of their needs and wants. Truly. For them, Facebook is a hosted CMS with community features with big advertising opportunities and analytics. And isn’t that largely what small businesses need?

Consider the alternative: searching for a web designer or development house (muddled by search engine hijinks), establishing that relationship, and then going through a creative and interactive design process of some length. And it costs real money.

Now, Facebook likely won’t be free for businesses forever. (For end users, yes, but at the cost of a ton of annoying-as-hell ads and promoted news feed items.) But given their size and reach, if they want to they can continue to undercut the pricing of designers and developers.

Is this bad?

I struggle with this question. I’m not sure. There are parts of it that I feel are very bad - namely, having no control over one’s web presence (having ceded it to Facebook) - but then again, isn’t that how some design houses operate anyway? And for small businesses, really small ones, is a true website overkill?

One thing that can’t be argued is that a full reliance on Facebook puts this information in the hands of a single company. It’s no worse than setting up a Google+ account (stop laughing!) and using that as a business web presence.

But as the web transitions into a plumbing platform for apps - and a backup for those that either can not or choose not to use apps - this may be all right.