Let’s face it. The “AOL” of the 21st century has to be Facebook. “Everyone” seems to be on it. Certainly almost everyone talks about it.
If you own a business, operate a Web site, or are part of the public relations department at your employer, it’s time to get over it.
Too many Web site operators, business owners and so-called “experts” in social media are still all hyped up and pushing this service as though it is the Internet. Well I hate to break the news to everyone, but the world does not revolve around what has turned into a simple site to connect college chums into nothing more than a site that persists in data mining all of its users in an attempt to sell advertising. (And most of these users are clueless as to the privacy and security issues Facebook has.)
At any rate, and despite the popularity, there are several mistakes being made regularly that business owners and site operators need to realize before dumping a lot of faith, effort and time into Facebook. Here are mistakes you should avoid.
1. Do not put all of your eggs in one basket. There are other social media sites out there–to be exclusive to one only is to shortchange and alienate anyone who refuses to use one service over another. If you use one social media site, you should use all of the popular ones, and post equally to all of them.
2. Do not put unique content on Facebook, or any other social media site. Again, this alienates living, breathing potential customers who choose not to use the site. Instead, use social media only as a means of pushing customers to your official Web site. You do have one, don’t you? Please, please tell me you do…
3. Do not ever, ever use Facebook as your “official” home page or Web site. Grave, grave mistake! Think about it for a moment: you are excluding non-Facebook users, even if your content is public. Setting up your own site is not that difficult–you can even create a free one on Blogger and WordPress, complete with your own domain name! Using Facebook, or anything similar, as your official site just reeks of laziness and again, shuns visitors who want nothing to do with it.
4. Do not use Facebook as your commenting system…if you operate a blog or Web site. There are others out there that are more “open”. People simply do not like Facebook, and they are not about to open up an account and risk their numerous privacy and security issues just to leave comments on other sites. And, what do you think Facebook is doing with those comments? Their system is free for a reason–it is feeding their data mining operation, depositing cookies on your computer which track you around the Internet to get your browsing and buying habits. Do you really want to subject your customers to that? Use a less hostile service such as Disqus, even if you have to moderate comments.
5. Never, ever run your contests, giveaways or sales exclusively on Facebook. How does that make potential customers, readers or visitors feel if they are not members? It turns them away. Run those contests on your Web site. It is not difficult! And it is way more fair to your visitors. The same applies to Google+, Twitter, Tumblr or any other service.
6. Do not assume what you post on Facebook is your property! Read the fine print. Read up on how this information is used. Keep in mind that any text Facebook encounters is indexed, attached to your name and your page, and is used to feed advertising right back at you. And all of those followers who “Liked” your page? This told Facebook they are interested in whatever topic or product you are promoting, and will feed them advertising that your competition likely paid to have delivered to them. Also be careful of what images you post–anything is a free-for-all when posted on Facebook. Don’t be surprised to find they have used it for other purposes, or other members have stolen it for their own use!
7. Finally, do not bother using Facebook’s “Pages” and expect it to reach your visitors. Given changes in their monetization structure, if you use a Page for your business or organization, you now only reach a small fraction of people who have “liked” the page. That hot 50% off sale you are advertising? Of your 2,000 followers, maybe 100 or 200 will ever get notification of it in their feed. Oh, wait–that’s right. Send Facebook money, and they’ll expand your “reach”. Send them more, and it’ll reach further. This monetization strategy has made the Pages feature useless except to those who foolishly spend money to increase their “reach”. Don’t fall into the trap. Seeing that most visitors ignore what is in their feed anyway, there’s no point in throwing money at the issue.
We realize these mistakes may go against the common thinking that everyone should “Promote! Promote! Promote!” on social media, but think of the users, like myself, who feel shunned, turned away and discouraged because of our choice to not use some forms of social media personally. In these highly competitive times, shunning customers will do nothing but turn them away…to your competition.
Our recommendation? Use Facebook. But, also use Google+. Use Twitter. Use Tumbler, Instagram, Pinterest, or anything else in social media to get your message out. Use that message only to point back to your own Web site, and nothing more. Never post exclusive content on any one social media site. Ever. Remember, what is hosted on your own Web site is your property. And you control that site exclusively. Use social media only to build traffic back to your site! Keep that clear goal in mind for success. And remember that the more you post links back to your site, those are more links which others share with their friends on these networks, which gives you even more exposure! Always include a link back to your site in every post you make on social media, to build traffic back to your own Web site.