When Facebook first hit the internet it was embraced by ordinary people, sharing ordinary thoughts with one another. It was obviously intended to be social – hence the name social network. However, as the number of subscribers grew, so did the interest from businesses. They spotted the potential of the network for marketing purposes, and started to develop strategies that would capitalise on this potential by offering special deals and promotions. It now seems that whenever you log onto Facebook, you’re bombarded with business pages and hard-sell promotions.
Now it would be churlish to be overly critical about this, as with a target audience now in excess of 750 million, it’s perfectly understandable that businesses would want to get a piece of the action. However, not all Facebook users are happy: they resent having their network hijacked by business, and are increasingly blocking or blacklisting any business page that is simply trying to sell them stuff. So, what should businesses do? Is there any way a business can harness Facebook’s social media marketing potential without alienating the audience they’re trying to target?
Well, yes, there is. In fact there’s more than one way. The most important lesson that all businesses should learn is that the secret to social media marketing is subtlety: sometimes less definitely is more. Here are 5 thoughts you might like to consider.
Use your business Facebook page to make friends, not sell stuff
Any personal relationship is built on trust and mutual understanding. The whole point of Facebook is making friends and developing some sort of community. If your business is only interested in attracting new customers and trying to sell products or services, then you’ll soon be rumbled. Word will spread quickly, and users will shy away from what you’re offering. Why not try writing about the community you want to be part of instead? Add something of value about local events, and don’t focus purely on business. If you’re seen as a valuable contributor to the community, then you will be more readily accepted and welcomed. Granted, that won’t necessarily help you to sell more products, but it keeps your name active and visible in the news feeds. Sales conversions will follow if they’re meant to be.
Don’t bombard your friends with constant updates
Statistically it’s been shown that businesses who constantly post on Facebook feeds are seen to be annoying. Some of them will post 3, 4 or 5 times a day, and the type of updates they post are generally inane and irrelevant. This is what is meant by less is more. Yes, it’s fine to keep your business profile active and in the public eye, but back off a little and only post when you can add something of value to the conversation. Studies have shown that any business posting more than 3 times a day is shooting itself in the foot. They have also shown that the best times to post updates are 7a.m, 5 p.m. and 10 p.m. Facebook’s peak times. So try to stick within these parameters.
Don’t post for the sake of posting
What you post needs to be both relevant and of interest. As we mentioned before, it doesn’t necessarily have to be about your business: posts of general interest are just as valid. What will loose you brownie points is posting any old nonsense just to keep your name in the public domain. Users don’t like it, so don’t do it.
Offering perks and incentives is fine: using hard-selling methods isn’t
If you want to offer the occasional perk, or run a promotion now and then, just go for it. The trick, though, is to make it a treat and something special. If you’re offering deals every day, or some special promotion, people will see through this, and realise that all you’re intent on doing is selling stuff. Remember you are part of a community, and occasionally you have to look beyond the bottom line to be accepted as part of the community.
Give people what they want
Facebook is about sharing, not selling. So share your thoughts with the community, but try to make sure what you’re sharing is interesting and relevant. Above all try to make your posts exciting. After all what you should be doing is sharing the type of content you would want to share with your friends.