Your Business on Facebook

Mediocre, Enthusiastic or Bombastic?

I remember the early days of Facebook (for me that was 2006). Back then, nurturing friendship was more important than numbers. And it wasn’t about brands or branding – the almighty “Like” button hadn’t even been dreamed of yet.

In the spaceAllowing brands to have a visible presence on Facebook has angered some, delighted others. Some brands understand how to engage, while others … well, let’s just say they haven’t evolved yet. As a social media strategist, I spend a lot of time listening, asking my community for their feelings on different issues. Asking about brands on Facebook was like asking a republican when Obama should call the next election (or if you’re Canadian, how you feel about Harper’s non-confidence vote).

I’ve captured much of the conversation below, but it comes with a warning. Do not read if you think brand engagement is easy. It’s not. We’re all still learning and conversations about how to interact effectively and respectfully takes practice.

Welcome to the Facebook School of Hard Knocks

Learning while doing can be a tough pill to swallow. When you misstep, everyone notices. But it also puts you ahead of brands that aren’t using social media at all. It doesn’t help that the rules are constantly changing.

Consider these pointers – freebies from my personal experience and remember, a frog with a crown is still just a frog…Try harder, do better and rock your customers’ world on Facebook.

  • Still a frogTreat your Facebook home with as much respect as you do your website. SEO, attention to spelling and grammar and rich media are equally important here.
  • Invite your customers (and potential customers) to visit with you on Facebook – don’t lure them with false deals or shout at them with a megaphone.
  • Don’t make your fans like your page before showing them your content. Social media is about transparency so don’t hide behind a wall.
  • It’s not about numbers. Your CEO might disagree, but thousands of likers without conversation isn’t exactly inspiring.
  • It is about engagement. Responding to every single person who writes on your wall says something about your customer service philosophy and your corporate culture.
  • Give your fans a reason to keep coming back. Coupons, information and entertainment are all important ingredients. Sprinkle with care and listen to your community when they’re bored, frustrated, etc.
  • Empower your community by asking them important questions. Ask them about what they love most about your products? What they want to see improved? What new products they want to see introduced? 
  • Remember your place on Facebook – you are a brand, not a person. Your Facebook business profile is much more powerful than a personal one, so play by the rules.

@beebow – Love brands with a sense of humor, who talk to me in 1st person. Hate bullhorn brands. Good brands are always welcome 🙂 Example – bullhorn. Good brands talk WITH people, not AT them. especially if the channel they’re using to talk is Twitter.

@TaylorJonez – You like them for a reason. Brands are starting to humanize themselves to become your friends and be more one-on-one! When they’re using a Personal Profile that bugs me. There is a limit though. And there still are brands not using them properly. I never thought of reporting them to be honest.

@juliebcreative – Brands on FB was inevitable yet still annoying. i cringe every time i see a “visit us on facebook!” sign on stores/companies. personally i don’t think they should be there at all. it’s mostly glorified advertising disguised as connecting w/ people. although I do believe there is a big grey area with individual people/small homegrown down to earth businesses.

@shamattygalle – Love – when they reach out and respond. Great examples: @starbucks @skittles @AmericanExpress Basically interact with us much like the way you and I are doing right now. Right now Julia, I think brands are sometimes not human enough. Humanization of brands is something Facebook should invoke.

@GibsonSV – i agree, I think FB pages for biz is good b/c they can interact, but they don’t have a right to ur info at all

@reneeradia – Loved this article w/ specific examples of companies doing it right, might be of interest for your post http://bit.ly/gCZtOP

Suzanne Boles – IMHO: I see Facebook as a place to connect with friends, have fun share information you might feel is valuable to them. That could include kudos on something about work or your business, but I really don’t have any interest in the Fan Pages idea. I just don’t see Facebook as a place of business. I see LinkedIn as the business platform. I use Twitter for business as well (don’t care what you ate for lunch in 144 characters or less, but I do want to know breaking news, interesting links and bytes of valuable information).

Karyn Climans – I love the way my customers will post images of themselves or their kids wearing their Tail Wags helmet covers. My fan base is growing so I have to assume they’re enjoying the opportunity too. As well, we regularly have FREE helmet cover giveways so it’s added fun!

Brandon Pierce – I hate to say it, but I honestly don’t pay much attention to most brands. Syfy I comment on regularly, and they’ve never engaged with the people that I’ve noticed. Same with Netflix.

Bobby Donohue – I like brands on facebook because they’re brands I “like”. If I change my mind I can unlike them and they’re gone. I might unlike a brand if: they’re cluttering my wall with too many posts, or if the posts were not what I expected they’d be. So mostly annoyance. I also like brands on Facebook because *I* have brands on Facebook, and the new Pages allow you to tag other Pages so your messages appear on their walls, thus helping you put your own brand in front of new people. It’s just a big fun game and if you’re working it right, you really never have to see anything you don’t want to see.

Are you struggling with how to engage respectfully and with pizazz on social media? I’d love to hear about your frustrations and fantasies. Share your stories here and let’s learn from each other!

Got social media questions? Follow me on Twitter, friend me on Facebook or connect with me on LinkedIn – I’m always on.

9 Responses to “Your Business on Facebook”

  1. Tracie says:

    Great article! Helps me know if I’m going in the right direction with Facebook! Thank you!

  2. Impact_Mike says:

    It’s true that a Facebook page is as important as your website, and if you truly want it to go viral then it will be the first opinion a lot of viewers see of your brand and your offering (so make it good!).

    We’re just relaucnhing our page so your advice was a big help.

  3. I think you have a good start to a conversation here Julia. Brand presence on Facebook will continue to evolve. I for one am excited about this because the fans, or “Likers” will have much of the say as to what we get on Facebook and what we don’t. With company web sites, you get what the company puts up. But on Facebook, we’re going to see brands trying all sorts of different engagement and interaction strategies. The ones that work will get adopted by more and more brands. Plus, they’ll work because we the Facebook people liked it.

    • Julia Rosien says:

      Bobby, I think you’re exactly right – the way businesses use Facebook is quickly evolving. This is by no means a static statement and each interaction serves to further shape the future. I too think it’s exciting to watch consumers changing the future… It reminds me of the early days of the web when we first discovered the long tail query. While our behavior changed the way we searched, we changed the results Google served us. Thanks for stopping by to comment – and for helping in the first place!

      Julia

  4. Hi Julia and thanks for getting me to think a bit more about Facebook. I am more of a Twitter person really and find I can relate to people using that medium and build a community quite effectively.

    Facebook I have always struggled with, I do have a personal page that I just use to interact with people I know through the blog and I also have a Page for the blog. I am just using them as another place to spread the word about new blog posts but not too much more. As a consequence, and in an effort to link with other pages I find that the blog ‘page’ always looks a bit messy, I suppose I am just there as I feel I should be without having a clear plan!

    Maybe I am missing a trick? I guess I might be after reading your post but then again as I am not directly selling a product maybe it doesn’t matter to me so much.

    Ha Ha – you can probably gather by now that I am a confused Facebook person – back to the drawing board for me I think 🙂

    Thanks for an interesting article.


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