* Facebook vs. Referrals and SEO
Facebook marketing seems to be gaining traction with
music lesson studio owners. Let’s compare!
By Dirk Johnson
Facebook (FB) is a
behemoth in the online marketing world. It can be used to easily reach into
very specific markets, and it would not be a multi-billion dollar company if it
did not work for advertisers.
We’re not here to bash
Facebook. It has proven to work, for some. Our goal here is to compare FB
marketing and advertising with getting free traffic from referrals and search
engine optimization (SEO).
For those of you who are
actively using or considering FB marketing, there may be some business
Who Are Your Reaching?
Facebook is so big and
so ingrained in SOME people’s lives that it can appear to reach everyone. That
This article uses USA-based user data statitics, because that data is
readily published. Other countries might see far different (less?) usage stats
regarding FB, but the logic is the same.
Yes, FB has a huge registered
account base. In the USA, there are about 170 registered accounts, out of about
330 million people. Curiously, that user base has barely grown since 2017.
See this article: How
Many People Are Using Facebook?
What is the problem with
that? Well, for one, it’s only 51% of the population. So anything you do on FB
can potentially reach ONLY 50% of the population, but let’s say that your
target market of young parents has a slightly higher FB established account
Second, and this is very
important, is how many of those established account users actively log in AND
scan through their timeline? And how often do they do that? Once a day, once a
week, once a month, or never anymore?
Here’s another article
about that: Facebook’s
US user base declined by 15 million since 2017
This is where the rubber
meets the road. The ACTIVE USER base on FB seems to be in decline.
Of the 51% who have
accounts, how many of them are using FB regularly. 25%? Less? Who knows?
The point here is that
FB actively reaches only a slice of your local market.
Think about your own life!
Have YOU trimmed back
your own FB activity? Probably, and so has most everyone else.
It was a shiny nugget for a while. It was trendy. Most of us jumped in.
But with it’s endless
timeline, political noise, pictures of friend’s dinner plates at restaurants,
and lots of ads, it soon became an incredible time suck. Busy people (i.e.
parents/your clients ???) found little choice but to abandon their usage, in
order to get on with their lives.
Once someone has been
extracted (i. e., de-programmed) from active usage, there’s little chance of
them going back. Their hardcore FB usage days are OVER, along with your ability
to reach them on FB.
Let’s Slice It Even Further
OK- let’s be more
specific to the music lesson business. Maybe you are running FB ads, maybe on
local FB groups, like the local buy/sell groups, or the local community groups
to promote your business for free (if allowed), or maybe as groups you select
to run ads at their members.
Who sees these ads?
Well, it is ONLY people who are MEMBERS of those groups.
So let’s review. For
someone locally in your service area to see your ad or post, they HAVE to be:
1) An FB account holder.
2) A member of one of
3) An active FB user, scanning their timeline or notifications regularly.
Your Facebook efforts might easily be reaching only 10% or less of your local
market population that meets the above criteria.
Think about that. Your efforts on FB are probably NOT reaching 90% of your
local target market.
Of those you do reach on
FB, how many are actively looking for music lessons? Maybe the answer is “none”
on any given day?
Granted, most forms of
marketing reach only a slice of the market, except maybe direct mail, which can
hit every household, but direct mail is a huge cost these days, with a lot of
waste in the process.
At What Cost?
The next question is the
cost in time and money that it takes to make this work.
Let’s look at the “free”
side of FB, where you post to local groups. Let’s consider that a FB post has a
half-life of about 24 hours, at best.
Given that, how often are you going to post? Once a day? Once a week? Once a
month? You’ll have to experiment,
without becoming so repetitive as to force people to ignore your posts, or
until some group admin tells you to stop with daily self-promotion posts.
How many groups are you going to post to? The more you post, the bigger your
reach, but the more work it takes.
WHAT are you going to post? The same post over and over? Is it informative, or
just an ad? If it is informative, then it requires additional time in terms of
PREPERATION to make it work.
OK – Then Just Run Some Facebook Ads
Ok – the easy way out is
to just run some Facebook ads. Prep them once, and keep running them over and
To do that, you have to learn to navigate the confusing behemoth that is the FB
advertising interface. Then you have to track your ad constantly to make sure
you are not throwing away money. More time, and certainly, money is involved
Some of these local groups deteriorate into just a handful of active users. You
can see that when the same people post again and again and nobody else
participates anymore. A handful of these “over-posters” can chase away everyone
else with their noise.
So these groups that
serve a local interest base can easily de-generate into narrow cliques of a few
active people. If you are running ads into these clique groups, you are no
longer reaching anybody who is useful to you, but you are still paying.
Then new groups form,
and the process repeats. So FB requires constant monitoring and digging.
WAIT - What is Your Real Goal?
The real goal here is,
of course, to fill up your studio. If you had a full roster of students, and it
keeps coming, you’d probably skip the time and cost of FB, right?
So if our ultimate goal
is to fill out your studio, you should want to do it at the least cost
should take place on a risk/reward/time/effort spectrum. All advertising is not
Instead, we sometimes just go with what is in front of us, with no regard for
the total cost, just to do SOMETHING that will bring in students. Facebook
certainly provides that quick fix.
But if you are ignoring the free leads that exist, then it is costing you a lot
of profit for that convenience.
How Do FREE Leads Happen?
There are two primary
sources of free leads. One is referrals.
Are you doing everything
you can to generate referrals? Are you providing incentives for your parents
and students? Are you reaching out to local school music teachers, band
directors, theatre directors, choir directors and other influential people? Are
you promoting your recitals?
Referrals are ALWAYS
your best source of free leads. Do that first. Some lesson studios fill their
classrooms with nothing but referrals.
Maybe it will work for
you, and maybe not. In competitive markets, the referrals from outside sources
might be a tough nut to crack, with established competitors getting the bulk of
If you are spending a
bunch of your marketing time on Facebook marketing and very little on referral
program development, then that is backwards, from a business analysis
perspective. Convenience is winning out over profit.
Is Your Search Engine Optimization (SEO) In Good Order?
Second on the free
spectrum, and possibly much more powerful in terms of total volume, is the free
traffic that comes from search engines when someone searches for your type of
“music lessons in [Your City]”.
In a nutshell, we ALL
use search engines to find what we need. People who need music lessons use
search engines! They simply search for a local provider, and select from the
websites that pop up in results.
In advertising, these
are known as “self-qualified leads”. That is, the people who initiated the
search are ALREADY in the market for your services. They just want to find a
local business that provides the service. What’s more, there is a 50% chance
that they do not even have a Facebook account.
You can read more about
the quality of search traffic here: Web
Traffic is NOT Created Equal! Get The Best For Your Music Teaching Site!
With advertising, be it
Facebook, or any other ad, you are paying to reach a huge number of people who
have no interest at all in what
you are selling.
With FREE search engine
traffic, once you are ranking well, the interested people COME TO YOU and they
usually keep coming.
Maybe It’s Time To Re-allocate Your Time?
Here’s the thing.
Maybe referrals alone
will not fill your studio. Maybe SEO alone will not fill your studio. Then
again, maybe they will. Maybe you have never really tried.
If they do, imagine the
time and/or money you’ll save by not having to jump through the Facebook hoops,
while reaching a much larger audience than the active FB user base.
As someone who gets free
search traffic regularly for my guitar lesson studio, I don’t do other forms of
marketing. I don’t need to spend the time or money. It’s liberating.
Many studio owners say
that FB marketing works and I am sure that it does. We all need to choose among
From a business
perspective, “free and consistent” business from referrals and SEO beats the
time and money required for managing Facebook advertising. It’s just common
Bottom Line – Do Yourself Some Good.
The bottom line here is
that you are going to do yourself some good if you make a very basic SEO
effort. Spend a few hours on it. It might just pay off in a lot of free leads
from search engine traffic, or even direct leads from the profiles
It’s all laid out in this 80
page do-it-yourself guide to SEO for music lesson teachers, tutors, and studios
If you don’t have time, or
if you prefer to have someone else manage the basics for you, please contact
as always, if you want to get a quick review of your current website SEO
condition, please contact
me with your website address, and I’ll be glad to have a look and report
back to you what I find.
Thanks again for tuning