If you build it, they don’t always come: when does having a Facebook page not really work for your client?

For the past month I’ve been negotiating undertaking training for some Gold Coast/South Brisbane Indigenous business owners in the construction industry. With the upcoming Commonwealth Games, governments are trying to ensure that there’s room for Indigenous business owners to take advantage of any opportunities. Most of the blokes (at this stage they’re exclusively men) are small owner-operators. Tonight I had my first one-on-one training session. He was a good hard-working guy who is strong in his trade but isn’t confident using the computer nor social media.

My brief: ‘general’ IT, create a Facebook page and teach our to post to it. Sounds fair enough right?

As it was our first session we spent a good three hours looking a few immediate concerns – a specific WordDoc formatting, signing up for a membership and then we started on Facebook.
We talked about what Facebook is, how it works (Profiles create and administer Pages), and how to make it work for your business. We talked through the types of posts he could make, including –
  • personal stuff – hi, I’m  up early, and heading off to my site now, 
  • networky posts – great to meet x, 
  • industry posts – x is an important regulation, etc. etc.
But after talking with my new client for 2 and 1/2 hours, I’m not 100% convinced a Facebook page is the way to go. The real questions are:
  • Who are his clients?
  • Where do they get what they need to make decisions?
  • Does the customer make their construction industry purchasing decisions based on Facebook?
We have a few more allocated hours left together and while I think it could be possible that we could practice enough that he might take to Facebook like a duck to water, I’m concerned it’s going to be a whole lot of investment for very little return.
When I do my social media training one of the first things I say is: You don’t need to be on Facebook! (or Twitter, or Snapchat, or Pinterest). What you need will completely depend on your business, your product, your market, their behaviour and their decision making process.
Before our next meeting I’m going to have a look around and see what alternatives there might be. If the intention behind the Facebook page was to create an inexpensive option for a homebase (with 25 likes he could claim his unique URL), then I suspect there may be non-Facebook options that are very reasonably priced.
And yes, before you ask, he should have a website, but his income doesn’t yet warrant that. I was thinking we could mash a domain + an About Me page together, or alternatively, go for a WordPress site structured as a static site rather than a blog. And before you also ask, I hate Wix, so I won’t be recommending that platform.
There are in-direct benefits of having a Facebook page though. You get to generate community if your posts are engaging, as well as build up your own reputation. There’s a strong, engaged and growing Indigenous business community on Facebook. Never underestimate the strength of the black business grapevine in getting more work. In addition spending time developing a strong Facebook page is also surely an asset that an owner can use to increase their valuation should they wish to sell up.
If we build the Facebook page will my poor tired tradie client be able to turn into the engaging content generating machine he needs to be? Hmm … much to consider before our next meeting.
I think my question though still stands – When is Facebook a complete waste of time for your client? 
Image: Image: Picture from our hand-written notes tonight. On the top left there is the word Facebook. Underneath on the left there is a circle with the word Profile and a human figure. Underneath it says “friends”. There are three lines coming from the circle on the left to three smaller circles on the right saying Pages. Above one of the lines it says “Admin”, underneath the three circles there is the word “likes” and the word Advertising.

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