The Business Part of Business

Facebook Stores are Shutting Down—Were They Ever Open?

Bought anything on Facebook lately?

Last week I came across this story at Mashable, talking about the demise of several major brands’ e-commerce efforts on Facebook. And my immediate reaction was that I hadn’t even realized these “Facebook Stores” existed.

My next thought went to what my reaction has been since we started seeing established brands with established web sites running television commercials trying to send people to their Facebook pages. Can anyone really believe that it’s a good idea to send traffic to facebook.com/pepsi instead of pepsi.com?

What hadn’t even occurred to me, though, was the issue that stands out loud and clear in the comments against that Mashable story; people don’t trust Facebook, so why would they shop there?

I’m not going to rant about Facebook today; I’ve been clear that I believe Facebook is simply not presented in the right way, but let’s face it; they’re Facebook; my half-hearted attempt a couple of years ago to craft a new kind of social network isn’t at all important.

From a business change perspective, though, I think you need to pay attention to this story. Yes, your business needs to “be on Facebook”. You also need a Twitter Account. AND THEN YOU NEED A PLAN FOR HOW YOU’RE GOING TO USE THE SOCIAL NETWORKING PLATFORMS.

We help companies with that stuff, and you’re welcome to contact me here about your social networking strategy. But the truth is, as with may forms of business change, you don’t need consultants to get you through this; you need common sense, an open mind, and to keep looking around you for how people are reacting—not in focus groups, but in the real world.

And let’s be honest; whether you spend your time looking for trends or hire people like us to do it for you, this stuff is all around, and glaringly obvious. People don’t trust Facebook? Thanks Mashable, but we told you that people don’t trust Facebook about a year ago. And we told you that people wouldn’t like Facebook Timeline … but that it was a great change for Facebook to implement, too.

Common sense issues, both times. Business Change isn’t really all that complicated. So why did big brands think Facebook stores were a good idea?

The answer would seem to be that even when you throw big budgets at business change, there’s a tendency to come to no-real-change conclusions. People act in the ways they’re accustomed to acting, and sometimes following the crowd is the most comfortable no-change change of all.

Want a real business change? If you haven’t already done it, get your web site into a content management system. Like … now. And no, not something proprietary like Hubspot. And not on Facebook, Posterous, Tumblr, or some other semi-public, not-really-free platform, either.

Because even though most folks haven’t figured out why not to trust Facebook, the idea is right: you shouldn’t, and most people don’t.