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r ranson
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(hopefully) a quick question for you facebook users out there, especially those of you who use facebook for business.

I noticed that some businesses use facebook as their primary (and often only) web presence.  I'm working with someone whose target customer is only 50% likely to have a FB account (and are not going to get one).  Since this business owner is a FB person, but I'm not, I need to know how to ask them to make their business page accessible to people who don't have a FB account.  (at the moment, you have to log into your FB account to access their shop's page)  I need to say this in a nice way without hurting their feelings by calling them bad business people or showing my anti-FB prejudice.  can you help?

Something like, "a reminder to those of you who use FB as your primary web presence to set your business profile to ... something... to reach more potential customers."?  Only I don't know if that's said nicely or not.  Maybe, "we encourage you to set your FB to ... something... as this helps customers find your shop."

Is it possible for businesses to set their account to be visible to non-FB users?

Can you help me?
 
Jane Weeks
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I have a facebook business page (which is virtually useless IMO, unless you pay for ads) and I've never seen anything like you're looking for. If you discover such a thing, please post it here as I'd like to do it, too.
 
r ranson
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Hmmm... maybe it's gone.

My local animal vet's only web info is on FB, and usually, I can see it all.  But now it has the same notice as the other shops - that I need to have a FB account to see the page.  I can still see some of the page, but much of it is blocked by this notice. 

So... do businesses that only use FB have no way to interact with non-FB users?  They only want the money from people who have FB accounts?  Well, it's their business and there are lots of other places to spend money.

But still, it doesn't solve my current problem.  Getting these business owners in touch with their customer base.  I would say about 50% of their customers do not use FB or have FB accounts.  Of their potential customers, the non-FB people make up about 85% of the money spent in this area.  So, by restricting their web presence to FB, they are missing out on maybe 80 to 85% of their potential sales.  How can I tell this to them?  I can't say it bluntly as they supposedly know their business better than I do. 
 
Jane Weeks
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I couldn't find anything about facebook now (2017), but I found an old post somewhere that said you could make it work by changing age and country restrictions. Go to "Settings," "Preferred Page Audience." Change the ages to 13-65+ (that's as young and old as they have in the settings) and don't choose any particular place under "Locations." I've done that, but don't know yet if it works. Worth a try!
 
Rick English
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So, by restricting their web presence to FB, they are missing out on maybe 80 to 85% of their potential sales.  How can I tell this to them?  I can't say it bluntly as they supposedly know their business better than I do.


Two thoughts come to mind here.

1. You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make them drink. Your statement above sounds perfectly reasonable to me. If you say it, and they take offense, you probably are not going to be able to help them. They need to be willing to accept help. I might look for a person who really wants help instead. I used to waste a lot of time and effort trying to help people that weren't ready for help.

2. I suspect they will likely respond by saying that every single customer they talk to mentions they saw them on Facebook, which is probably true. This is a self-fulfilling prophecy. If the only advertising/visibility thing I did was the yellow pages, all of my customers would find me via the yellow pages.

Hope that helps
 
Tobias Ber
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heya...

a question that might help: how well are facebook pages suited to SEO?

are there any studies about that?

i assume that a simple webpage (which would be enough for that person) or a wordpress-blog would be way better when it comes to SEO.


from my point of view, FB page and website have different functions. so a company should (yes, i am using SHOULD here) do both and interconnect them so that they work together and help each other. and probably even other channels, social media etc. if suitable.

have a blessed weekend!
 
r ranson
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I think a big challenge is that the established customers aren't used to a huge web presence.  One of the biggest sellers of a related product in Canada still doesn't take credit card.  You phone in your order and send him a check in the mail. 

Of the hundred odd shops, maybe half don't have any web presences, 4 have FB only (only one of them has an up to date FB page), but the ones that have a web presence are the ones that do the best.

My goal is to make it easy for customers to find these shops so they can spend their money there.  I can only go so far as it isn't really my place to tell them how to do their business.

But blimey, FB is dividing the world into people who have it and those who don't.  People who only use FB don't realise there are those out there who will never use FB and will not shop at a place that has no other web presence.  This is doubly so in the industry they are in.

I just want to shake these people and say, "if you're going to have one web presences, don't hide it behind a login wall!" FB is great, I'm told, for business, but alone it cuts off a huge potential customer base.  Combine it with something else like free website or blog, and your customer base expands tremendously!



Maybe I could put it at the end of the message as a hint on how to get more customers to find their shops?  I wonder if there are stats out there that could say something like...

"did you know, businesses that have a website or blog have YY% more likely to attract new customers than businesses with FB alone"

I could make it a regular feature in their communications, little factoids like that which they can use or ignore at their leisure. 


Are you guys sure there's no way to set a FB profile to public (aka, fully visible to non-FB users) anymore?
 
Pascal Paoli
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Another argument that you could use is "owned vs. borrowed space". In online marketing, any channel that is not your website or something like your own email list, is basically just borrowed.

Facebook can cut your reach when ever it wants to (and has done 2x by 90% ) it can also take your page away (because of weird circumstances) and when it happens, they have the most horrible customer service (NONE) and you will never get access again.

Come up with a metaphor, that they can understand:
They are using somebody elses home right now, to sell their products. The homeowner is usually not present (noticeable) but could throw you out at any time.


 
Tracy Wandling
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I know two things that prevent small businesses from creating websites: the high cost of getting someone else to do it, and the lack of tech savvy to do it themselves. That's why I do GOOD websites for cheap. It doesn't have to cost an arm and a leg, and I can teach them how to take over the site and make updates themselves.

If these business owners had someone to help them set up a website for a reasonable cost, it might make it a more attractive option. Facebook is easy and free, and I guess that's why most people use it. Also, many small businesses have all of their friends on their Facebook page, so they get lots of positive support and feedback. But often few sales, sadly.

It's a difficult situation, but I might say something like, "I know a large group of people that would probably love your products, but they aren't the types of people who do Facebook. If you had a little website, I would send them the link!"
 
Rick English
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My goal is to make it easy for customers to find these shops so they can spend their money there.  I can only go so far as it isn't really my place to tell them how to do their business. 


It sounds like you are convinced a website would help these small business, but the small business is hard to sell on the idea...

Let's say there are 20 small businesses in the small town you are looking at. What if instead of trying to build 20 small websites, you instead build a slightly larger website with a page for each business. It might be a long page, but it would work better in search engines as a single larger website anyway. Maybe you sell advertising on the website to make money off the site, or maybe you even rent the space on the site to the businesses. Or maybe you charge for updates, maybe they get something for free, and enhancements are an upgrade fee.

This gets you closer to build it once, and sell it multiple times.

If I ran a local newspaper, this is something I would do...
 
Jane Weeks
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Rick English, I think that's a brilliant idea! It would be like the Yellow Pages used to be -- buy local; find everything in your town on one site. I'd love that for my tiny village...and another one for the closest real town.
 
Rick English
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So the thing is, it has to be better than what the yellow pages used to be. It needs to stay updated, it would help if it offered a single calendar of local events and sales, even better if there was an email newsletter sign-up to receive updates/sales/events...

Any programmers want to build something that would be easy to use to do this?

I imagine there are lots of permies who could roll this idea out in their own town...
 
Jane Weeks
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To the OP: My son finally got back to me, and yes, he can see everything on my business page now, even though he's not a fb member. So what I did works.
 
Angelika Maier
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What exactly are you doing for your customers? And why wouldn't someone simply build a website?
Facebook is a pain in the ... and really the business page and the private page is not well connected unless you work around.
As a business yuo should have both but more important is the webpage.
 
Rick English
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Good websites generally cost money. Facebook is often free. I think that matters to really small, really local businesses.

For a small local business, I see the Google Business page as something that is halfway between Facebook only and a website, but it is still free:
https://www.google.com/business/

Since it is a Google thing, I do see these listings pop up in search engine results for local searches. It covers maybe all the most important things for a local business.

 
Enrico Caballero
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I work for a number of NGOs and in my opinion every business should have a Facebook page - although only other FB users will get full-value from it - as well as much other social media as possible.

Bare minimum would be Google+. Twitter and LinkedIn.

Of course, you'll be needing a really great website too.
 
Elizabeth Rose
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Non FB User here... Usually I can see a business page and the first couple posts. Make sure the relevant info is in the info section with links and it's enough for me to track down what I'm looking for.

... Actually I just tried to look up some friends' businesses on FB and it wouldn't let me on the landing page without logging in. Not sure why it does that sometimes but not others.

There's a big world of us nonFBers out there, it's great when events/businesses realize this.
 
r ranson
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Thinking about this as a customer, I would rather buy from someone with Zero web presence than with only a FB.   I usually have FB blocked on my computer, but sometimes I'll unblock if I really need to see a business information.  If the business is locked behind a login wall, then that's it.  I WILL NOT shop from them, not even their physical shop.  There are other places to spend my money.  That business sends a very strong message that they only want money from FB users and that's their choice. 

Now, that's me as a customer.  I know I'm not the only one who feels and acts this way.  FB users I talk to are shocked when they hear about this and think it's an isolated event.  It is not.

I understand FB is useful to some people.  That's great for them.  I just want to remind these businesses that they can get more customers if they set their FB profile so that customers can see them without logging in. 

It's like keeping the front door of the supermarket locked with a special lock that only works with the keys from Ford trucks.  Only people who drive ford trucks can buy groceries there.  It doesn't make sense to block Toyota and BMW drivers from buying your product.  Or maybe it does make sense and I'm missing something.



My job is to update a list of shops that sell a certain thing.  I'm checking old links, updating addresses, &c.  and creating a database so that a larger company can put this list on their website too.  Want to buy this stuff, live in Canada, these people will be happy to sell it to you.  Basically, I'm working for a wholesaler who sells the stuff to the shops, so he wants to make it easy for them to sell it to customers. 

There have been larger yellow pages kind of things created but they never took off.  Even google listing is difficult for most businesses as it is just one more thing for a small business owner to keep track of.  I would love it if each of these shops had a website, but most of them are too busy selling stuff to bother with that kind of thing.  So, instead of asking them to increase their workload, I just want to suggest to them that those of you with FB page, please set it to public so people who don't FB can buy stuff from you.  But how do I word that delicately?  I know from experience, that my usual way of wording this will get people's back up as they love and adore FB and can't imagine there could be non-FB users who would want to shop there. 

 
Elizabeth Rose
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Good old NVC.

"Hey company X, I noticed your shop page is only accessible to FB users. I feel _____ (concern? frustrated?), because I value ______ (inclusiveness for customers? ). Would you be willing to _______ (set your page to public? include a link to an outside page?)

You don't need to include judgements or opinions, just facts and direct observations. Observe and interact.
 
Angelika Maier
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I think a website is a must. I have built websites using simple website builders, but I cannot understand that many people say that you need an expert to do the webpage. Probably it is for the better SEO.
Otherwise using weebly for instance it is simple. The problem is to keep it updated and interesting - who has the time?
The fact that you are in the permies forum let me assume that you work with some green products. Especially in that area, it is very likely that customers don't use facebook, I know it from clients around here.
 
Rick English
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I think this has become a pretty interesting conversation... Thanks everyone

I think this topic directly applies to all social media, and not just Facebook.

Every person uses their own mix of social media channels. They often have a favorite channel. The channel I like best and use the most is YouTube. I know people who are twitter obsessed, and literally don't use any other social channel. Rinse and repeat for many other social channels as well.

I feel every business should be putting the same message on all channels. You never know which channel will be the one that a potential customer sees first, and you only have one chance to make a first impression.

That doesn't mean that you don't have to customize the message for each channel. I would be a bit annoyed if you uploaded a video of a static image to YouTube and called it a video for example.

I don't think you need to do every social channel out there, but i think there are a few that are important.

Thoughts?

 
r ranson
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Here I thought it would be a simple answer of "yes, just go to profile and set to public", or "no, FB doesn't do that anymore".  This is really interesting to see everyone's take on it. 

I think this has become a pretty interesting conversation... Thanks everyone 

I think this topic directly applies to all social media, and not just Facebook.

...

Thoughts? 


Oh dear, do you really want to know?  I fully aknowlage I'm not 'normal' by today's standards.  But since you asked for my thoughts...


My prejudice is against social media that deliberately exclude people. 

Facebook, Pinterest, and a few of the others are all hidden behind a login wall.  Event twitter is going that way as one can't view much on a mobile browser without logging in. 

By hidden behind a login wall, I mean one cannot view the content without belonging to the club.  Of course, posting requires one be a member, that makes sense, but viewing is what I'm interested in when it comes to finding somewhere to spend my money.

This is one of the things that attracted me to permies.com.  The information is here and free for anyone to see. 



As a customers, what I like to see from a business is a simple (or complex but easy to use - simple is better) home page of some sort.  Something free to read that has the details on how and where I can spend money with them. 

If it's a physical shop, I want to see...
phone and physical address (it's crazy how many people neglect this)
email address
a bit on what they sell and why they are the people I want to spend my money with. 
something friendly but to the point. 
a picture or a few pictures, but not slow to load.

If it's an online shop, I want to know...
where in the world they are (country and province/state/canton) so I can get a rough idea of the shipping and customs charges
an easy way to buy - shopping cart system, etsy, &c.
If their 'easy way to buy' is pdf that we print and mail in with my check, then I want to see the product description and price put in a non-pdf forum (I don't get on well with PDF software)
Not too cluttered, no broken links (especially to their own website).  Some sign that they put basic thought into the web page upkeep. 
Some sign that it's updated in the last 6 months.
easy way to ask questions - email or phone
a note about shipping - ie, do they ship to Canada!?!  Make this obvious.
I'm getting really fond of pay pal as a way of paying when it's a small shop who's reputation I don't know.

That's what I want to see in the main web page.  So long as it's not hidden behind a login wall, then I don't mind much what platform it is.  A blog, a page, etsy, whatever.  Simple and clean is more likely to get my money.

If it is a kind of page where one leaves comments, like say blogger, make it easy for customers to leave comments.  Don't restrict it to FB users only, or other social media.  I'm going to shout this next bit: POTENTIAL CUSTOMERS MAY NOT BE SOCIAL MEDIA USERS - THESE SAME CUSTOMERS MAY HAVE LOTS OF MONEY TO SPEND BUT ARE FRUSTRATED BY SOCIAL MEDIA WALLS.  By not cramming social media down their throat, you have the advantage over shops and are more likely to get their money. Just please, for one moment, imagine there are humans out there who are not comfortable with the internet, don't have cellphones, don't do FB, and just want find the product, spend money and get on with their day. 

How to avoid your potential customer feeling like they are being force fed social media but still take advantage of social media?  Give them a simple landing page that has all the relevant information and isn't hidden behind a login wall. I think of this website webpage as an anchor point. Or maybe the hub in a wheel.  I like to see all social media spread out from there and refer back to that. 

So, if one makes an announcement on FB, why not make it on their blog/website first?  The blog/website allows one to post it in full detail, then their FB post (with link) can be just the highlights.  Same with twitter and Pinterest.  Youtube seems a bit different as the content is much ... for lack of a better word, the content is stronger.  So make a youtube video, then post it to your main site.  Maybe it's an instruction on what you sell, maybe it's something about how you make it.  But all the time, keep the one page at the centre of the social media - the simple to use for us Luddites that just want to find your contact info and figure out how to spend money with your shop. 

Most of the time I already know about the product and have an idea which shops sell it.  I do a lot of research before I buy and usually only buy to fill a specific need.  However, youtube is definitely a source of impulse 'needs'.  A highly educational, slightly funny youtube video (preferably food related) will convince me that I can't live without something and bring my awarness to the shop that sells it.  For example: this baked bean video.  It's got everything in it.  History, different cooking methods, a recipe I can modify to my hearts content, pulses, educational, funny clothing, and a really awesome clay pot. 


Keep in mind, I'm looking at this as a customer and what I like to see when spending money (and fully acknowledge I'm very opinionated on that matter).  As a customer, I'm quite happy with people keeping things as they are as it means I spend less money and can save up for buying bigger and better things from the shops that do meet my demanding criteria. 

I also know that people who love social media feel very different than I do and want a different approach to spending money.  However, in some fields, I've noticed that a large number of people don't social media.  They are too busy doing stuff (gardening, crafting, whatever) to social media much.  These also seem to be the people who spend the most money at a time - buy large purchases from one shop.  As a former retailer, that was the kind of customer I liked because I got more money for far less work.  The people who were more interested in soical media tended to make smaller purchasses from several different shops.  At least, that's my expierence. 
 
Judith Browning
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I'm having a hard time seeing why this matters so much unless the business owners are actually complaining about lack of sales?  I don't buy much online in general and never even thought about buying through facebook even though our son has a business page there.  His sales are mostly word of mouth and a few online customers who watch his page for pictures of new slabs of special wood (he has a bandsaw mill and caters to furniture makers).  He is pretty happy with his sales....and I just checked, his page isn't public...If it doesn't bother him, why should anyone else care? 

I guess I'm not enough of a shopper to care about stuff I'm locked out of....must be a lot of it out there that I'm missing 

I don't think everyone who is on fb 'loves' it...for some of us it's just a nice way to stay in touch with old friends and distant family....pictures, etc. I can see where it's not for everyone.
 
r ranson
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his page isn't public...If it doesn't bother him, why should anyone else care? 


Normally I don't care.  If they don't want me to see their business, that's quite alright by me.

I'm a lazy kind of person.  I'm not going to go too much effort to seek out a shop that is 'hidden'.  There are lots of other places to spend money... too many.  As far as my wallet is concerned, the fewer places that want my business, the better.



However, my current role is to help a certain set of businesses get in touch with a large, potential customer base.  This means I have to care about things like "can customers find your shop" and "is it easy for them to spend money with you".  I'm not going to do too much as, let's face it, it is their business.  I'm just providing opportunities for them, it's up to them what they do with it.

FB came up as an issue, especially since no-one in the office does FB (for business or personal), so we can't see the pages of the individual shops to make certain they are active and other stuff.  I'm imagining having inactive links to shops gives a bad impression (both customer and SEO), so I wanted to ask these shops to set their profile to public.  But I think it's going to be too much work.  I may just remove those links, or I may make a new link section for each shop specifically for social media (separate from the homepage link).   
 
Rebecca Norman
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R Ranson wrote:
However, my current role is to help a certain set of businesses get in touch with a large, potential customer base.  This means I have to care about things like "can customers find your shop" and "is it easy for them to spend money with you".  I'm not going to do too much as, let's face it, it is their business.  I'm just providing opportunities for them, it's up to them what they do with it.


In your original post, I didn't catch this, and thought you were thinking of giving a suggestion to people who you were working with in some other way. But if your role is to help them get in touch with a large potential client base, then why would they get offended if you suggest making a simple website that is open to all and not only facebook members?

In my experience, a Luddite can make a simple web page or blog without any more skills than it takes to set up a facebook account. A few years ago I made a couple of blogs on blogger and wordpress, and it didn't take any special skills. As mentioned above, you don't have to pay someone to make a website if you only want something within the framework offered by Wordpress or some other host.
 
Jane Weeks
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R Ranson wrote:
his page isn't public...If it doesn't bother him, why should anyone else care? 


FB came up as an issue, especially since no-one in the office does FB (for business or personal), so we can't see the pages of the individual shops to make certain they are active and other stuff.  I'm imagining having inactive links to shops gives a bad impression (both customer and SEO), so I wanted to ask these shops to set their profile to public.  But I think it's going to be too much work.  I may just remove those links, or I may make a new link section for each shop specifically for social media (separate from the homepage link).   


------------
It's no work at all! As I said above, "Go to "Settings," "Preferred Page Audience." Change the ages to 13-65+ (that's as young and old as they have in the settings) and don't choose any particular place under "Locations." My son, who refuses to use facebook, tried it and he saw my whole business page.
 
r ranson
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Jane Weeks wrote:
R Ranson wrote:
his page isn't public...If it doesn't bother him, why should anyone else care? 


FB came up as an issue, especially since no-one in the office does FB (for business or personal), so we can't see the pages of the individual shops to make certain they are active and other stuff.  I'm imagining having inactive links to shops gives a bad impression (both customer and SEO), so I wanted to ask these shops to set their profile to public.  But I think it's going to be too much work.  I may just remove those links, or I may make a new link section for each shop specifically for social media (separate from the homepage link).   


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It's no work at all! As I said above, "Go to "Settings," "Preferred Page Audience." Change the ages to 13-65+ (that's as young and old as they have in the settings) and don't choose any particular place under "Locations." My son, who refuses to use facebook, tried it and he saw my whole business page.


Could you send me the link to the site so I can see if it works?  Feel free to send it via PM, if you like. 

I just received confirmation from a few different sources that FB no longer allows non- users to see business pages.  This is turning into a bigger hullabaloo than I expected. 
 
r ranson
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Experimenting further, some of the business pages I can see for a little while without logging in, but very soon it gets locked down with this:

 
Jane Weeks
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R Ranson wrote:
Jane Weeks wrote:
R Ranson wrote:
his page isn't public...If it doesn't bother him, why should anyone else care? 


Could you send me the link to the site so I can see if it works?  Feel free to send it via PM, if you like. 

I just received confirmation from a few different sources that FB no longer allows non- users to see business pages.  This is turning into a bigger hullabaloo than I expected. 


This is my business page (which I rarely post to): https://www.facebook.com/SmallbonesStudio/
 
Rick English
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I don't understand FB sometimes. This is obviously an attempt to get people to create accounts and login - which makes for more advertising revenue for FB. But, I have to think this is going to force small businesses to create their own website or even a Google business listing instead, which will hurt FB traffic/revenue in the long run. I am hopeful this is a test, and that Facebook will see reason once it reviews the data, but it turns out that they have had "problems' with their data in the past:

Facebook Makes Measurement Mistakes by Avinash Kaushik
 
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