Facebook is the digital age’s version of Word of Mouth Marketing. Currently it claims 40 million active small business pages on its service.

A Facebook business page is free to setup and use if you don’t count the time spent setting it up and updating it.  Facebook uses an algorithm called six degrees of separation to link family and friends, which works very will.  However that is NOT the algorithm used for business pages.  If you can get someone to “like” your page, that’s great. You’ve clearly shown enough value to your customer that they want to hear more about what’s going on with your business – at least in the short term.

How to Use Facebook

The best way to reach a targeted market on Facebook, is to pay for placement into the target market’s personal feed.  With Facebook Advertising you can choose a very detailed target market.  It allows you to select the gender, income, customer likes and such to reach the people you want to sell to.  However with the new “Anti Bot” algorithm, business page exposure for small business is down by 70%.

Now most small business will need to start paying to promote posts into peoples personal feed (which of course, isn’t free) to engage new users. Another limitation of the Facebook business page is a lack of brand control. Yes your logo and posts will be on your Facebook business page but on the right side of every business page is your competitions advertisements. Facebook matches the ads to the content of your business page. So if you business is selling blue widgets the right disbar will show advertisements about blue widgets.

Also, valuable business information isn’t always readily available to a user on your business page. Your address may be there, along with your phone number and a small about section, but that isn’t necessarily enough. Many potential customers want to learn a little more about who you are and what you’re about.

What Can You Do?

In comparison, a dedicated website enables you to completely control your brand and acts as a main hub on the web where interested, potential customers can go for all the information they’re looking for.

A dedicated website also has Google search on its side. It’s true a Facebook page can be found via a search engine, but it doesn’t provide the same comprehensive SEO control of a dedicated website. This point should not be overlooked. A website enables you to tailor your content to the exact kind of phrases and keywords your potential customers are searching for, compared to a Facebook page that is limited in this aspect.

In short, should you have a Facebook page for your small business? Yes, absolutely. It’s free and it’s brand exposure. Is it enough? Probably not. To create the kind of digital presence that is required for a small business to succeed in today’s world, a dedicated website isn’t a nice-to-have, it’s a necessity.