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It wasn’t so long ago that I was part of an "animated" discussion on Customer Think about the relative role of websites and Facebook for small business.
I started at one extreme that they should focus 90% of the energy on Facebook and over the thrust of responses settled roughly in the middle. Well at least I settled on the idea that it’s "horses for courses".
It’s hard to beat the idea that if a business nuts out its goals and brand value and promise then it will come up with the best solution – whichever part of the digital engagement spectrum that should be.
Hearsay have arrived at one end of that spectrum.
People might jump to conclusions and say the obvious conversation killers:
"Oh yes that’s an obvious choice for them because they are a "Facebook" type of business", or similar phrases.
But "not so fast Martha" – they describe their business as "Hearsay Social is the first social media platform for businesses with many local branches or reps."
And conclude "Software is only part of the solution. We’ll see you through strategy, implementation, and launch, all the way to celebrating your social media success".
AH? Say that again, it sounds like a very "traditional" media consulting company – just with a new exciting product. From that point of view, to me at least, it’s not at all "obvious" that they should have decided to not have a website and to direct everyone to Facebook as their corporate site.
It’s that decision which marks a milestone. The choice of website / Facebook page isn’t "obvious", not a "natural selection", it’s a specific and deliberate strategic choice.
That’s an exciting new development, and will tip the balance towards more businesses thinking more seriously about the degree of emphasis to give to Facebook versus their "traditional" website.
It’s risky, their business is very much dependent on Facebook’s goodwill, and as some others have found out that can be capricious at times, and with no recourse or appeal. One of Hearsay’s founders is Clara Shih author of The Facebook Era. Perhaps she has better Facebook connections then most, but in any case she’s eating her own dogfood.
What do you think of this decision – obvious or strategic?
Do you think it will shift the balance a little to the Facebook side?
What lies behind their decision, do you think?