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Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Six Facebook Fallacies

Since I run the social media of W.L. May including Facebook, Twitter, and Google+, I have had conversations with a variety of people and have seen a variety of examples of Facebook usage. I also spend a lot of time and energy trying to keep current what the "internet gurus" recommend as best practices. In the course of all that, I have heard a few fallacies about using Facebook and today I would like to take a look at those with you.

1. Nobody cares what I had for lunch.

It amazes me that some folks STILL think this is all that social media is for. Oh sure, there is plenty of "food porn" out there if that is your thing, but Facebook is used for so many other kinds of messages. Facebook can be a tool to augment your advertising, increase your standing in the community, and develop a relationship with your clientele. It takes some work to be effective, but many service companies have seen some positive results.

2. Everything I post shows up on the timelines of those who have "liked" me.

This was a true statement when Facebook was a new service. As Facebook grew, people began to have trouble with too many posts on their page. To help weed through the clutter, Facebook created a math program that looks at the subject matter of the post, the types of media it contains and who posted it. They then compare that to how each person who "liked" you uses Facebook. How much the writer and reader interact, what kinds of materials (links, pictures, videos, etc) that the reader generally "likes" or "shares", and how old the post is. These things all affect what you see on your Facebook timeline, but more importantly, they affect what your followers see. The formula, known as "edgerank" is complicated, but if you use Facebook, it is worth trying to understand and work with it otherwise your posts might not be seen by as many people as you would like.

3. All you need to do is create a Facebook page.

Some businesses have managed to create a basic Facebook page, but they haven't used it. Sometimes they haven't even filled in their contact information and hours. That information can help you potential clients know more about your service, before calling you. It can also help them to know what phone number you can be reached at. Also, this is a great way to develop rapport with consumers in your area. That can lead to better profits for your business. My point, for social media to help your business you need to be participating regularly.

4. Facebook is a great place to discuss politics and to spread my faith.

This is one I see all too often. There is nothing wrong with having strong opinions on religion and politics. Most people who are paying attention to those things do. That is exactly why you should probably avoid those subjects in social media when you are representing your company. Don't be afraid to be yourself, you DO want to let your personality show through, one of the strengths of social media like Facebook is that it helps to put a human face on your business. Remember though, because politics and religion do have such strong opinions on all sides, you are running a good chance of driving potential clients away from you if they come from a different viewpoint. Stay out of the fray when you are representing your business.

5. If I post a lot of sale prices it will drive business to my door.

Some companies do a great job of setting up a page. They post regularly. Their posts, however, are a never ending litany of specials and sales prices. This works against them in 2 ways. It doesn't do anything to help develop rapport with the people in their community, which is the strength of using Facebook as a marketing tool. In addition, those types of post typically get fairly few "shares" or "likes" which moves the poster further down the edgerank ratings and limits the likelihood that future posts will be seen by their intended audience. Try, instead, to offer value to your customers by providing them with interesting and relevant posts.

6. If I buy some "likes" it will let me reach more people.

After using Facebook a while, you will notice that not everything you post reaches all of your intended readers. If you have been trying to figure out how to improve the number of contacts your posts reach you will likely start to look into how edgerank works. At that point, it might seem like a logical thing to try and get more people to "like" your page. That DOES help your edgerank rating IF the people who like your page are actually interacting with it. There are services out there that will, for a fee, get more people to "like" your page. The problem with this that they will get you a lot of disengaged followers that really wont help your cause. There is reason to believe that using the Facebook promoted post program suffers from the same drawback. The following video explains the problem better than I likely could.

The challenge as well as the beauty of Facebook and social media in general is that it is so new that the rule book is still being written. Because of that, you may have some great ideas for reaching out to your customers that we have not discussed. Good luck with your Facebook and social media plans, have fun and stay social!

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