Do businesses need Facebook? {2017 update}

Update to “Do businesses need Facebook?”
(Living without the online stress?)

More than a few years ago – we started “seeing the writing on the wall” when it came to the utter mayhem social media (like fakebook and others) caused. Especially for brick and mortar businesses.

At one point in time not too long ago – you were either an online business or a physical “store.” Each with their own set of protocols, benefits, and issues. Naturally, the street-level businesses had limitations as to what their maximum potential revenue could be, how they could grow (expand). Many stores became “chains” and so on. And as they grew, their purchasing power multiplied, allowing them to undercut competitors and become near-monopolies.

The online wave then came through, along with the lower physical overhead, and easy “armchair shopping.” People got hooked on buying things online. Added bonuses included reviews, easy product comparisons, shipments to your door, and so on. You know the drill.

Then, companies started mixing things up. Big chains like Target, Walmart, and others took their ground-level power to cyberspace (who says cyberspace anymore?)

no facebook no sale

But that is not the point of this exactly. Just stream of thought.

“Going online” in the beginning

Since people are now pretty much dependent on the internet – the need to be “online” is (was) considered a necessity.

In the early days – most smaller physical businesses simply put up a simple webpage. Basic stuff. Who they are. What they offer. Their hours, phone numbers, and other things like menus, price lists, and so on. Just a way for people to “find” them for whatever reason. After a while, if you didn’t exist online, no one outside your small sphere of influence (locality) would even know about you unless they drove or walked by and had the inclination to “check you out.”

Online commerce grew steadily – and most stores that offered “products” began offering their items via “shopping cart.” It worked fairly well for specialty shops with unique, hard-to-find items. But arguably negligible especially for those who sold the same things larger online companies offered. The cost and headache to maintain an online store often was a net wash.

Then social media came in a screwed things up

In the early days – most shoppers and consumers shared their experiences only in extreme circumstances. Either really BAD (and often through archaic remedies like the BBB), or really GOOD (telling friends, etc.) But there was indeed a limit to how much someone could spread their word, either negative or positive. The business would know (via sales and profits) if they’re doing something right or wrong.

Good businesses most likely had some way of talking to their customers, soliciting feedback.

But once social media (along with online food ordering) came along – and everyone and anyone can make a permanent (most often not well thought out, and usually immature) comment about a business.

It seems like people need to chime in on every frickin’ step they make, every trinket they buy, and every morsel of food they shovel into their gullets.

Now you cannot even WISH to have no online presence!

“Claiming business.” Wow, what a mafia racket that is. Sure, bloggers and local reviewers can write about area businesses, exchange comments with others, etc. But in essence, that is confined to the readership of whatever that publication covers. Hardly national or global.

Then websites and apps like Yelp or even fakebook started creating entries for companies anyway. Some pizza place or dive bar had “pages” with the name, address, and contact info – even if they had NO DESIRE to be online. You’d typically see stuff like “Is this your business? Claim it online! Add content, menus, etc!” (All for a perpetual ransom to the proprietor of said online sham).

Especially for food businesses, it seems to be an outright necessity.

But is it really?

Is there a way to reverse this trend?

At what point to all these physical businesses just “opt out?” Ideally, it would best be accomplished via a strong “movement” of some kind. Where all these shops just threw in the towel. Tried to bring things back to better times.

Doing everything digitally in “cyberspace” doesn’t seem to net an overall positive vibe. Naturally, some businesses do succeed. A few quite wildly. And with that success come expansion, bigger exposure, etc. I guess that is every small business owner’s dream. To get rich, sell the business, and retire in luxury.

What about the 98.9% of businesses that don’t “rise to the top?” Because you know it’s next to impossible for all shops to reach that “breakout moment” when the flood-gates of “winning” open up. Just like any competitive environment, only a very select few reach that pinnacle. It’s basic math. You cannot have 10 first place finishers in a race of 10 runners.

But does NOT playing in this digital environment DOOM those from the start?

What would the scenario be like for those with no online presence?

Think through this for a minute. Let’s pick a few random brick & mortar shops. Say they have no social media and just a basic non-e-commerce webpage.

– A ladies clothing store.
– A taco shop.
– A car dealer.
– A bar or tavern (just booze, no food).
– A Realtor.

Other than convenience stores – it can be argued that every business needs to be online – for the sole reason that their competitors are. And that kind of sucks.

Just like the millions of government laws which add unnecessary complexity to life. So does the internet landscape. And in the end – who benefits? The tech companies?

It just seems like a giant waste of added time down the drain just to keep pace. Especially because more and more people addicted to social media HARDLY CONTEMPLATE anything anymore. Just go with whatever everyone else says. And the “bonus” of whatever extra sales you might get – you’re also at the mercy of the mob. A digital prisoner. Something has to give. And soon.

The post we wrote back in 2014 is below…

Really – In Hoboken, do businesses need Facebook? Why?

(Originally published April 2014:)

Last week, we talked about how fraud is rampant in Facebook – and that any local Hoboken businesses should simply opt-out of the social media marketing frenzy – and focus on what their core models are. However, why do businesses need Facebook at all??

Doing fine without Facebook in Hoboken

Let’s take a look at these two long-time local convenience stores – Town Smoke at 11th & Washington and Hoboken Daily News at 4th & Washington. They have zero online presence, yet their businesses collectively are doing just fine. Sure, they’re somewhat dependent on the economy in general (like most businesses), but they still have steady streams of customers on a daily basis. How can they survive without Facebook?

Hoboken stores thrive without Facebook or social media

Living and dying by Facebook?

Then you have these ladies clothing stores like Iconic Fashion Lounge and Dear Hannah – who are (or were) neck-deep in social media. One of the two has closed up shop. How did social media help them?

What makes places like clothing stores “need” to be “social” while others don’t?

What did businesses do before social media? Why did the technology all of a sudden “make it” imperative to “join in?” If you have a good shop with good products and service – your true word of mouth should be enough. Let your customers do the (actual) talking for you.

What if a local ladies clothing store opened up with no social media presence? Would they also be doomed from the get-go?

Are social media customers ones you want? Or has technology created a “Groupon” culture that only buys things when they’re ridiculously cheap?

Ladies clothing stores doomed in Hoboken NJ

Once you start – is it impossible to stop?

Here’s another theory I have. Some businesses have found very small “successes” on Facebook – by engaging their customers with occasional promotions, discounts, etc. I suppose it’s not much different than running a coupon somewhere else from time to time. But I feel that once you’ve “earned” a customer in that hell called Facebook – you’ll lose them forever if you stop with your promotions. Because like I said before – some people are just incapable of shopping without the “poke” from the social dungeon they’ve committed themselves to (and are unknowingly controlled by.)

So what if a bar, restaurant, or retailer who spent a few years building a couple thousand “likes,” decided to either stop updating – or even deleted their account? Would they suffer? And what would the upsides be beyond less time & energy wasted trying to chase the holy grail of mish-mosh marketing on Facebook?

But in all seriousness – the social media trend (and technology & communications in general) has exploded with such ferocity – that how many people have honestly taken a few steps back to acknowledge what the hell it all really means in the long run? Instead of jumping on the bandwagon, or hyper-analyzing all the (most likely useless) statistics – just getting back to wholesome basics that used to be the foundation of every business in town.

The whole thing just feels… hollow… doesn’t it?

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Quixote
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Quixote

Young people talk through social networking. They don’t have much to spend, but talk is cheap. Sadly, all that matters is perception.

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