I was first introduced to Facebook many years ago by a young colleague who I shared an office space with. She told me about it and I decided to take a peak and create a profile. I mostly thought it might be fun to see if I could find some old school friends and I loved you could see photos of their lives and what they were up to. I used it only intermittently until about five years ago when the landscape of Facebook really began to change significantly. Suddenly it was not just for connecting with friends but a bona fide marketing, business and branding tool that you could use to incredible benefit for nothing more than your time and the cost of an internet connection.
Fan pages for businesses, charities, celebrities and brands popped up everywhere with links being posted to drive people to buy, support, engage with and read blogging and website content. People who ran businesses and blogs quickly realised with the millions of people on Facebook actively engaged online and often on there for extended periods of time…this was a chance to get new readers, customers or clients. This was, in essence, a chance to make money. And it should be pointed out – there’s nothing wrong with that – because if you are in business today and you aren’t using social media to support that business – you’re missing out and should do something to learn about how to use it to your advantage as quickly as possible.
Like with anything that involves human interaction though, it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that as more pages on Facebook have been created that have the ultimate goal of getting people to ‘like’, comment and engage with them, that cracks have started to appear in the way people are going about this. There’s spamming. Outright rudeness. Attempts at poaching people from one page to another. Brands fighting with each other. And I’m not just talking Coca-Cola and Pepsi here. I’m talking about in some instances, two local Mums going at it while trying to make the best of their home based businesses.
When I coach clients who either have a business or want to start one, one of the key things we discuss as part of their growth, marketing and engagement plan is how they can use things like Twitter and Facebook. I watch and monitor their pages and accounts carefully and it seems like more and more of late I’m noticing (as are they!) that some of the ‘behaviour’ on Facebook is – shall we say – less than appropriate and ok. While some may disagree with the following sentiments, as someone who runs what I consider to be a successful Facebook page with positive engagement, here are my best tips and understanding of what makes someone and a business a great Facebook user and engager.
- If you post on a professional business/blog page with nothing more than an ask to come and like your page you are spamming. You are taking up space on their wall by imposing yourself on them with a free advertisement for your own page. This is not a nice or positive thing to do and you should be prepared to be deleted or even blocked as a result. If you run a page yourself and people are doing this to you I believe you have every right to stop people from doing it if you do not want your wall to be taken up with post after post of other people’s pages and not your own content.
- If you post on a professional/blog page and leave a nice comment tagging yourself saying ‘Hey, I like your page and I’m your newest fan!’ – that’s nice. Thank you. Happy for you to join in the fun of my page. Can you see the very big difference there? You’ve actually said something nice about the page of the wall you are writing on. You’ve given something out. Left a compliment. Don’t ruin it by then going on to say ‘And now please come over and like my page back!’ Again – you just stepped into a spammers shoes. Just leave your nice comment and have faith that if people are interested in your page – they’ll pop over and like you.
- If you are truly wanting to get more people to like your page and engage with what you do, start using Facebook under not your profile – but the profile of the page you want more people to connect with. ‘Like’ all the pages you can that are both in your field and you genuinely do like under your pages name and start commenting on things they post in a positive and friendly way. You are deliberately getting your name out there and making it super easy for people to click on your pages name and be taken straight to where you need them to go.
- When you leave a comment on a Facebook page either under your own name or that of your professional page and you then link to your own website within that comment – again – you’re spamming. You are taking up space on someone else’s page which they have carefully built to advertise your own stuff. Don’t do it. The only exception to this is literally if what is being discussed you have a link too that will deeply add to the conversation that is taking place. But linking to your post about designer headbands on a post that’s about the best way to pack a travel bag? Not ok.
- You know that contest/promo/thing you’re running to try and get people to like your page and then you’ll give them a prize by announcing on the page the winner etc etc? It’s entirely against Facebook guidelines and you’re running the gamut and huge risk of having your page wiped off the Facebook landscape by Facebook themselves. Don’t run the risk. Follow the guidelines properly and do the right thing not just by you but by everyone else who is following the rules too.
- When you share a post from another page I’m a fan of how Facebook states ‘via…’ which gives credit to where you first saw it. Nice. Another way to do this is to tag a page with an @ symbol before their name which provides a live link to their page. Annoyingly, Facebook does not always allow this to happen which is not your fault if you’ve tried but the main thing is that you’ve shared something of theirs anyway which is a great way to drive traffic and new people to their site.
I should finish this post by stating that by no means am not a social media expert. If you want to connect in with some great people who are, try the team at Mashable, Laura Roeder and Australia’s own Chantelle Ellem. They are all a rich source of positive information about not just Facebook but social media in general.
And I think this the most important thing to remember….Building a presence on something like Facebook takes time, commitment and dedication to the people you are wanting to connect with and serve. There are no true shortcuts save from paying someone to get all their ’friends’ to like your page but will then only dump you a month later.
Don’t laugh. People do it.
But you don’t need to. The fans, likers, commenters and great people you want to connect with will come with self belief and nurturing and loving that page and business of yours. I’m certain of it.
Do you manage a Facebook page? How are you finding it? Do you agree with some of my etiquette points or possibly none at all? Love your thoughts.