By Mikal E. Belicove|For Entrepreneur.com|January 22, 2010
In the rush to create a Facebook Fan Page to promote their business or brand, many companies are neglecting their existing blogs. As a result, thousands of business blogs have been left to rot, leading potential customers and business partners alike to draw their own conclusions as to why a company’s blog hasn’t been updated and what exactly that might mean.
At first, abandoning your blog in favor of a Facebook Fan Page may seem like a savvy business decision. As I pointed out in 5 Tips to Attract More Blog Comments, businesses that choose Facebook over blogging largely do so because they notice more of their customers or prospective customers posting Facebook Status Updates, Notes, Pictures, and Video than are posting comments on their company’s blog. But as I also point out, abandoning your blog entirely for Facebook is a lousy decision, and here are five good reasons why (along with five more pretty good reasons why, following this list):
1. Branding: Facebook doesn’t allow you to brand the entire Fan Page experience to the extent that you can and should brand your company blog. While you can customize up to 10 Facebook tabs (using the Static FBML application), that hardly compares to the unlimited branding options on your own blog using company colors, messaging, logos, and more.
2. Blog entries are better than Facebook Notes: Some people like to point out that Facebook’s Notes application is just like a blog. Sadly, they’re mistaken. For starters, blogs allow you to
categorize posts, thread comments, optimize content for search engine optimization, and so much more. Facebook Notes, aside from barely being read, fail to stack up against even your run of the mill blog post from the most basic of blogging platforms.
3. You can run third-party analytic tools on your blog: As I wrote in my October 2009 column for Entrepreneur magazine, to maximize your return on investment, you need to know what’s working and what’s not, where website visitors are coming from, what they view, how long they stay, and why some wander off. You need to know which campaigns are driving the most traffic to your content and how effective you are in converting that traffic into targeted behaviors. Facebook offers you only limited visibility into these and other key metrics, whereas the vast array of web analytics software and services available for your blog provide a deep view into the types of metrics that actually matter to you and your business. Oh, and just in case anyone wants to point out that Facebook recently made a sweeping move into analytics for Fan Pages with per post analytics for Pages, read the fine print… the minimum barrier to access the new feature – which isn’t in the same class as Google Analytics – is a Page with 10,000 Fans.
4. Search engine optimization: As I alluded to above, you cannot control any of the meta tags associated with Facebook Notes, Status Updates, Photos, or Videos, whereas you can customize your meta data (i.e., meta title, meta description, meta keywords, meta robots, etc.) on your company’s blog. Why does this matter? Because to some degree, search engines rely on meta tags to help determine what’s on a particular webpage and how that page will rank in search results. The more control you have over your content, the better your chance of achieving the type of search ranking that will drive traffic to your company’s blog and website.
Note: While search engine optimization consultants and online marketers debate the benefits, or lack thereof, of customizing the meta data for each and every one of your Web pages and blog posts, no one with any amount of practical online marketing experience disagrees that search engines rank content based on some of meta tags. Google, which comScore says owns 66 percent of the search market, does not ever use the “keywords” metatag in its Web search rankings, whereas Yahoo! and Bing do.
5. Ownership of content: Around this time last year, when Facebook had only about 175 million members (compared to the 350 million it boasts today), the company updated its terms of service, and in doing so, deleted a critical provision that allowed members to remove their own content whenever they wanted to, while adding a provision that essentially said Facebook could retain ownership of its members’ content even after they terminated their Facebook accounts. While Facebook reversed its stance by reinstating its previous terms of service just two days later, this would never be an issue on your company’s blog. Treat your content as a business-related asset: Publish your content on your blog before publishing it anywhere else, because doing so clearly defines who owns the content in question.
Other reasons why you shouldn’t abandon your company blog in favor of a Facebook Fan Page include:
- Your blog affords you opportunities to generate enewsletter and other opt-in subscriptions.
- While Facebook Fan Pages are available to the public, registration is required to fully participate. (You can make registration optional on your own company blog).
- On your company blog, you can turn commenting on or off or have comments moderated on a post-by-post basis. Not so on Facebook.
- Your blog is far less distracting than Facebook, which means no one else’s advertisements, applications, Pages, Notes, videos, photos, etc. can pull focus away from your content.
- Plugins and widgets allow you to scale your blog based on your business goals. Facebook doesn’t offer the same type of scalability.
For these reasons and others, I strongly recommend that you view your blog as operation central for your company’s market positioning, communications, and community building initiatives. Continue publishing content on your blog regularly, using social networking platforms like Facebook to distribute your company’s content and leverage its membership for valuable word of mouth marketing and more.