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It’s almost a sure thing that you’ll be planning to create a Facebook page to go with your new website or blog, as a promotion tool, hoping to increase traffic to your new site. I say, don’t bother.

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Get your Likes on your own site

I’ve made web sites in the past and, encouraged by “experts”, dutifully spent hours creating corresponding pages on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn showcase, Tumblr and Pinterest. But then something changed.

I read some time ago about the high profile case of Copyblogger deleting it’s Facebook page with 38,000 fans. While this is not the reason I decided to try life without a FB page, it did start me along a certain train of thought.
 

The flawed thinking

In the past, I had a site, with a corresponding Facebook page like everyone else, with 30 or so Likes, which I thought looked kind of bad because it was a low number. I wanted to seem like a busy, pro site. So I paid them for some advertising to drive “Like” traffic. And in fact it sort of worked, getting the Like count over 70.

Hooray! I paid some money, got my “Likes” up to a number that seemed a little more respectable, and started thinking more about how I could increase them further with promotions, and other cross-platform marketing. I found I was making grand plans to improve the FB presence, all involving hours of time, preparation and effort.
 

What is Facebook?

Facebook is a jumped up website, run by an American corporation. Facebook convinces us it’s a platform, which it is, but by doing so it causes us to think differently. We find ourselves thinking about building a community on it. We find ourselves thinking about building up “my website’s Facebook page” when really we are building up “an HTML page on Facebook’s web server”.

It’s only now that it sort of dawned on me what I had done. I had paid a website, to advertise on itself, in order to get people to click on itself, with the advertising target being my FB page/Likes, which of course is just another part of the FB website.

Facebook executives must have been leaping about with joy when they realised some people would pay them, to advertise on one part of their website, to get other people to click on another part of their website. And while doing so, increase content and traffic to themselves.

Well done Facebook, and managing to get a market cap of $265 billion in the process is quite an achievement.
 

What does having a Facebook page mean?

In a scenario where you do build up a successful Facebook page, people are doing all their socialising on Facebook’s web site, and any clickthroughs to your site are as an appendage to the community.

But have you really stopped to think about what it means in terms of your personal time? You can spend unlimited hours on the Facebook web site maintaining, posting, responding to comments, chasing Likes, and it’s all on their website. This is all valuable time you could be spending on – you guessed it – developing your own site.

Exceptions: Brand awareness. If you want to get your brand in front of as many eyeballs as possible, Facebook pages are ideal.
Also, if you have no interest in / ability to foster a community on your own site, Facebook has a use.

Otherwise, focus on your own content, not Facebook’s content. Everything you do on Facebook, they own it. And it’s all on their terms, and subject to their legalities and rules.
 

The world thinks it’s necessary

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Never been clicked

A young colleague asked me this week why we don’t have a Facebook page for our site, and said that it was in important thing to have. I asked why.
She said, because you can get Likes, and attention for your site.
I told her how we had several other sites, most with Facebook pages, all of which had sucked up valuable development time over the years, and it sent no traffic, and benefited our website in absolutely no measurable way.
I asked, who says it’s important?
“Everyone” at university it seems. I wonder where it all begins. One person has a successful Facebook page, tells their story, and somehow everyone assumes it’s essential for business success. Unlikely, given that, in spite of all the hype about social media, in this country at least, only 32% of the population even use the internet, let alone Facebook.
 

Some practical actions

As an experiment here on expatriate.pl, I am going to try not having a Facebook page. I do think about making one sometimes, but then I always stop myself by asking, “Why, exactly? What’s the benefit?”
Twitter, sure, because it reflects more the traffic profile we have with headlines being issued. Get tweets and RSS happening for your blog.

image Facebook share

Try and win over a community

Yes, make use of Facebook, you’d be crazy not to. Find some existing Facebook Groups that are interested in your blog topics. Post occasionally in them, depending on the group, most members won’t mind at all if you post relevant, non-spammy, interesting articles. Make sure your content is good quality. If your group is on-side, you can also discuss with them research for your topics before posting, and when the time comes to share the article, you will have already engaged the audience. You can even mention the names of any contributors in your share which will show community spirit.

You’ll probably encounter a lot of trolling, never take the insults to heart, and sometimes you can actually learn as behind the bitter and twisted is sometimes a grain of truth.
It’s a great way to build followers without trying to climb the mountain of a corresponding page.

Also – get a Like button on-page, on your blog. Not only a share, specifically a Like. People are more inclined to click Like than any sort of other sharing, as it’s the easiest form of feedback possible. This might prove tricky for all sorts of reasons, but is well worth it for engagement. And won’t do your SEO any harm. Look, there’s one now!

 
It’s just an innocuous, nice button involving no effort, and users can discreetly show support without having to make a “bold statement” declaration to the whole world, by making a full share for everyone to see.
So drive the Likes to your pages, not Facebook’s pages.
 

Your future blogging

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Just a beginning

In the beginning, if you are blogging for traffic, you’ll need to start building a sustained, quality legacy of posts, which talks to a community somewhere, and Facebook can be a huge part of it. For now, for this website, we’ll continue along without a Facebook page, and if in future we find there is enough audience interested in building a community, we’ll probably build it on our own site in the form of forums or social software.

Eventually with your months of consistent publishing and community promotion, and essentially – quality content, you’ll generate some naturally occuring backlinks, and some readers, and your site will be picked up in Google searches. When that happens, you’ve made it.

At the end of the day, in my opinion, the only beneficiary of a Facebook page with lots of Likes, community and traffic going on, is, well, Facebook.

 
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