12 months ago, I wrote a blog post about Facebook Faux Pas. I am revisiting this topic again because since then, some things have changed; and some things have remained the same. I still see many pages committing faux pas and I want to say hey, that is not going to help your business!
This time I am matching the faux pas with the correct action to take (as per Courtney’s request) to help businesses understand the right way to do things.
It is vital that you think before you post on Facebook. Like other forms of print media (newspapers, fliers, brochures and more) you need to give consideration to how you are representing your business in the written form, before publishing. Once something is published online, it can be difficult to retract (impossible if someone else has captured the information before you delete it). Here are some important rules to follow, to maintain a professional presence on Facebook for your business.
Don’t: Write on the wall of another business for the express purpose of advertising your own business. There is a fine but very distinct line between wishing to make a genuine connection with another business and simply posting details of your own business on their page, with the express purpose of promoting yourself. Unsolicited, indiscriminate, repetitive and impersonal posting on multiple business walls is known as spamming and will damage your reputation quickly.
Do: Make a genuine connection with a relevant business by leaving a calling card. If you want to reach out and connect with another business because you could potentially compliment and support each other, or because your business is genuinely a fan of theirs, you can tell them by leaving a calling card. You can post to the business wall with a genuine, personal and unique message for them, and let them know who you represent with an @tag link to your own business page, or by commenting as your page identity.
Don’t: Publish all your posts for the day only minutes apart. It can be hard to apply some structure to your posting timeframes, especially when we have lives to lead away from the computer and Facebook. But nothing will halt people from reading your News Feed faster than seeing 15 posts in a row, crammed into a 5 minute period. It’s just all too hard and overwhelming; no matter how useful the content you are providing. Try to allow at least 5 - 10 minutes between posts, and do no more than 3 at a time - at the absolutely most. If you have the luxury, a good rule of thumb is 1 post in the morning, 1 in the afternoon and a few at night, when people are most active. But space them out as best you can!
Do: Plan your Posts. The best approach is to pre-plan at least the majority your posts, with consideration given to what time of the day is suitable for the content, what time of day your customer is most likely to be online and what other posting activity needs to occur around it. The occasional off the cuff post will be appropriate at times, but a structured approach to your posting will be more professional.
Don’t: Air your business or personal frustrations, negative situations and arguments publically on your business page. Having a disagreement with a customer or supplier? A competitor stealing your designs? Frustrated that your delivery is late? Your likers don’t want to know about it. Avoid discussing negative issues or airing frustrations on your page. No matter how justified you may be in your argument, discussing it publically may make you feel better, but also makes you look highly unprofessional.
Do: Avoid using any negative language in your posts. Remember, if you don’t have anything nice to say, then don’t say anything at all.... or you will just hurt your own business’s reputation. If you need to have a difficult discussion with someone, have it offline.
Don’t: Forget the importance of using the English language correctly. Because you are representing a business through written communication, you must endeavour to use this form of communication correctly. Spelling mistakes, grammatical errors and using txt spk just makes you look lazy and uncaring.
Do: Check and recheck your posts before publishing. If you need to, pre-type your status updates into Word to check for spelling and grammatical errors before publishing; and make changes as needed. This small, extra step will speak volumes about your businesses professionalism. We all suffer from typos every now and again, but aim to get it right 99% of the time. You wouldn’t send your advertising off to the printers without carefully checking it first, would you?
Don’t: Allowing your photo albums to become out of date. If you are selling via your business page photo albums, it is imperative that your albums only show items which can be purchased or custom made, or that it is clear which items are for sale and which are an archive. Old photos of items not available for purchase will only cause confusion and frustration. Don’t publish photos which do not relate to the business, or reflect the business in a positive light at all.
Do: Have all photos up to date with all relevant information. It is vital that relevant information is attached to each photo; be they pictures of stock for sale, general store photos or other shots relevant to your business. Failing to list relevant, vital details such as product descriptions, prices, availability and ways that customer can place an order will surely lose you sales. Because you don’t receive notifications when people comment on your photo, it is most important to provide instructions for interested buyers on how they can contact you to place an order; and list your email address under every photo. If you have an album of supplies which people can select from to place an order, make sure you number and/or name the different supplies so that you can be sure everyone is talking about the same thing. General photos should at least have a description of what the photo is about i.e. “Staff having fun in-store - come and join in the fun too!”
Don’t: Ignore comments on your page. If someone has taken the time to post to your wall, comment on your news feed item or a photo, don’t ignore it; even if it is negative.
Do: Have the last word. In the case of your Facebook page, it is best that you have the last word. Always acknowledge what they have said. This acknowledgement will help build the all important genuine dialogue with your customers, which ultimately builds loyalty.
Don’t: Becoming a stalker. If you comment (as your business page) on everything posted by another page, you will start to creep people out. While comments are always sought after and welcomed on business pages, it will become weird if you always comment or ‘like’ everything that page publishes.
Do: Comment on relevant news feed items of suitable businesses. Commenting on another page’s news feed items and photos (as your business page) will get your page name and business name out there. If you see something that genuinely interests you ‘as your business owner’ it’s great to leave a comment. They might follow the link back to your page and like you too. But as above, don’t be spammish.
Don’t: Present content as your own; when it’s not. It’s great to pass along interesting information which you think your likers will find useful, but it’s not ok to represent it as your own work.
Do: Cite the source. Always attribute photos, blog content and other unique thoughts which are not yours to the owner. A good way to do this is to thank the creator and @tag their Facebook page when publishing the information in news feed. Of course, if you are linking to their blog, website or other location, it is clear who the content owner is; but it’s extra nice to acknowledge them in the News Feed post too. Plus it lets them know that you are sharing their content and may attract them as a fan to your page, or even start a new business relationship.
Don’t: Participate in games of tagging. Some businesses play games such as ‘Tag’ which requires business pages to tag multiple other pages; and then the tagged pages are expected to go and tag more pages, and so on. The idea is that all the tagging will attract new likers across from other pages. Based on discussions and comments I have seen, it actually makes participating pages look unprofessional and annoys people who are genuine likers of your page; and it rarely attracts genuine new likers. Also, constant ‘shout outs’ to other pages just for the sake of it, following the letters of the alphabet and other gimmicks are also bound to annoy your likers. These types of activities really only seem to achieve a feel good experience for the businesses involved, and don’t do much to strengthen your image or gain genuine new likers. You might event lose likers as a result.
Do: Use @tag function when-ever you refer to another business who has a Facebook business page. If you have a genuine reason to refer to another business who has a Facebook page, then the @tag function lets them know what you have written about them, allows your likers to easily follow to their Facebook page, and also publishes your post to their wall. A win/win situation when used appropriately.
I truly hope that this helps your business. You might not like everything I have written and you might not agree. However I believe that all points made have a very real impact to your business, and I genuinely want to see your business succeed.
Update: And another thing.... thanks My Poppet for the reminder!
Don't: Leave inappropriate posts by other people on your wall. If someone has written on your business wall trying to grab attention across to their own page, if they are a competitor talking about their own products, sales and events, or if it is completely unrelated, don't leave it there! Consider what visitors to your page may think if they were to see it.
Do: Encourage satisfied customers and business contacts to leave positive feedback on your page. It's great when people take the time to tell you that they love your product/service, or have another business recommend you. This is the content that you do want on your wall for all to see!
P.S. I have now accidentally found myself playing Social Media Consultant and Trainer in my local town; I am now teaching Social Media Marketing for Small Business at the local Community College and doing one on one consultations for small businesses in my area too.