Love it or hate it, Facebook is here to stay and is one of the most widely-used social networking applications on the planet (according to Facebook in June 2016, 1.71 billion users). So the likelihood is that many of your existing customers are members and many of your potential customers too. So it would be churlish not to exploit this and communicate with your customers, right? However, there are good and bad ways to do this. Get it wrong and you will alienate potential new clients, or at worst lose your Facebook Account so here are some “do’s and don’ts” for marketing your business, product or service on Facebook.
Facebook Profiles are for individual and social use. Many people in the earlier days of Facebook set up profiles for their business activity, but doing this is a no-no and businesses must have a Facebook Page. How can you tell the difference? When you place the mouse pointer over the name, a Profile will have the option “Add Friend” but a Facebook Page will have the option “Like”. Now we ALL read the small print in the Terms & Conditions, don’t we? Failure to do so could cost you dear, as the devil (as always) is in the detail. Here is an extract from Facebook’s Legal Terms (the full article can be seen here):
“4. Registration and Account Security
Facebook users provide their real names and information, and we need your help to keep it that way. Here are some commitments you make to us relating to registering and maintaining the security of your account:
- You will not provide any false personal information on Facebook, or create an account for anyone other than yourself without permission.
- You will not create more than one personal account.
- If we disable your account, you will not create another one without our permission.
- You will not use your personal timeline primarily for your own commercial gain, and will use a Facebook Page for such purposes.
- You will not use Facebook if you are under 13.
- You will not use Facebook if you are a convicted sex offender.
- You will keep your contact information accurate and up-to-date.
- You will not share your password (or in the case of developers, your secret key), let anyone else access your account, or do anything else that might jeopardize the security of your account.
- You will not transfer your account (including any Page or application you administer) to anyone without first getting our written permission.
- If you select a username or similar identifier for your account or Page, we reserve the right to remove or reclaim it if we believe it is appropriate (such as when a trademark owner complains about a username that does not closely relate to a user’s actual name).”
If Facebook discovers that a business is using a profile as a marketing tool, then they will suspend or delete the account. This could be catastrophic for someone who has been using a Profile for some time and has gathered lots of “friends” as all of these will be lost. Therefore, it is much better (and safer) to have a Facebook Page. Facebook will help you to convert from a Profile to a Page (see here for instructions on how to do this).
A social networking consultant friend of mine (Maya Middlemiss of Costa Connected) once wrote: “People make friends with people, not businesses.” and I think that she is spot on there.
Also known as Fan Pages, a Facebook Page can be created by any individual with a Facebook Profile. In other words, you must join Facebook as an individual before you can set up a Facebook Page.
Just go to www.facebook.com/pages/create.php where you will find that there are a number of different categories for Facebook Pages:
- Local Business or Place
- Company, Organisation or Institution
- Brand or Product
- Artist, Band or Public Figure
- Entertainment, and
- Cause or Community
Depending on the category selected, you can either choose a Username at the outset, or after you have achieved a certain number of “Likes” for the page. Once selected, this Username will be the Page Name (people will be able to find your page from the Search bar). For example, if you were creating a page for a restaurant called Steve’s Diner in Dénia, you might choose to have the Username of StevesDinerDenia (the username can be a mix of upper and lowercase letters but no special characters such as hyphens, slashes or punctuation). Using uppercase letters to separate words looks better too when you are adding your details to business cards and flyers etc.
The Facebook Page name is not case sensitive, therefore www.facebook.com/StevesDinerDenia would be the same as www.facebook.com/stevesdinerdenia but the first example is easier for us humans to “read”.
Getting Likes & Promoting Your Page
Now that you have your Facebook Page, you need to get some “Likes” so that you can interact with your audience. You can invite people who are already your friends from your Profile to like your page. You can also join Facebook Groups where you can advertise your Page and get people interested in your content.
If you have a business with a physical location such as a bar, restaurant or shop then display your Facebook Page details so that people can “Follow” you and get updates and details of special offers from your business via their Facebook News Feed (you could even make Facebook-specific deals or run competitions to encourage more people to follow and share your page with their friends). Those people who have liked your page will see your posts and updates in their News Feed.
Good Marketing/Bad Marketing
The idea behind using Facebook as a marketing tool is to keep your business relevant to those people who are interested in your product or service, therefore you need to post updates on your page regularly and keep an eye on who is interacting with the page. Existing and potential customers may ask questions about a product or an offer that you have posted, make sure that you answer these promptly where possible as no-one likes to be ignored when they have a question.
A rule of thumb on how often to post would be once or twice a week so that people have the opportunity to see what’s happening in your business, but that would depend on the type of business. More than this could lead to saturation or could even be regarded as spamming. Some pages that I have liked in the past posted updates far too often (sometimes up to 20 posts a day) and filled my News Feed with so much “noise” that I couldn’t see the posts I was genuinely interested in that were from friends and other pages that I had liked. I took away my “like” from these pages and now don’t see anything from those businesses (or to put it another way, they lost me as a potential customer).
If your posts involve several pictures, create an album first and then put your post with the album rather than post 10 individual pictures with the same update text. This means that people can view the album picture by picture, with whatever description you want for each and it is only one post rather than 10 (no saturation).
At the other end of the spectrum is to have no updates at all. You need to keep your page interesting with relevant content (so no pictures of cute kitties riding skateboards – keep that for your personal profile). For example, share articles from trusted sources on your page that are related to your business, if you’re being informative via your page, people are more likely to take you seriously and engage with your business.
Netiquette (or Internet Etiquette) needs also to be mentioned here. I have seen numerous posts from business pages on Facebook where the use of uppercase letters seems to be the only way they communicate. It is considered bad form to write only in capitals as it has been deemed to be the internet version of shouting at the recipient and it can be difficult to read. By all means emphasise individual words that require it (e.g. FREE! or NOW!) but not all of the text.
Another bone of contention with Facebook marketing is the posting of the same update into all of the Facebook groups to which those individuals belong, known as cross-posting.
Frankly, people that use this scatter-gun approach are guilty of lazy marketing and, at worst, are being disrespectful to the groups that they are posting in. Take the time to find out the purpose of the groups to which you belong (look in the tab marked “About” at the top of the group page). Also, read the guidelines that the group administrators usually provide somewhere in the group that will tell you which kind of postings are appropriate for the group and which are not.
You may find that if you post your updates into a group that doesn’t want them, you could be alienating the very people that you are trying to reach and you could be removed from the group or even reported to Facebook for spamming and have your account disabled.