Odds are you’ve liked a page on Facebook only to regret it a few hours or a few days later. Maybe it keeps posting about itself, or there’s no relevant material out there. Don’t be that page.
Kevin Mullett, a social media and search engine optimization expert and the director of product development for Cirrus ABS, spoke about the biggest mistakes he’s seen companies make on their Facebook pages. Don’t worry, there’s still time to change for the better.
1. No plan in place
Many brands or businesses can easily create Facebook pages, start pushing out content, and attempt to acquire fans, but they don’t have any kind of goal in mind. Is the Facebook page meant to build brand awareness, connect with fans, cultivate a following, or improve customer service? Much like how a football team has a game plan before a big competition, businesses should figure out what they want to do with their pages and start tailoring posts to that purpose.
Mullett talked about how brands on Facebook can develop a clear marketing goal:
"Before you can create a strategy, you have to understand what the objectives and the goals are. Why are you going to be on Facebook in the first place? It doesn’t matter what somebody has told you the reason that you should be on there: How are you going to actually make that be something that’s valuable to your company? The goal could be to be part of the community. The goal could be top-of-mind awareness-top-of-mind awareness only matters if it leads to business. It may be for customer service or providing a warmer interaction or better service to your clients. There has to be some kind of goal or objective."
After the company figures out the end goal for a Facebook page, then it can start figuring out the best way to get there, instead of taking a scattered approach with multiple objectives.
2. Assuming Facebook marketing is free
Facebook, in essence, is free. Despite the rumors that keep popping up every now and then, Facebook CEO and co-founder Mark Zuckerberg will not charge users a membership fee.
However, as the old saying goes, it takes money to make money. If you’re just on Facebook to connect with friends and play FarmVille, there’s really no reason for you to pay.
If you’re part of a business that is trying to acquire new fans (sales leads) and build a following, it’s going to take time and, yes, money.
Mullett talked about the misconception that Facebook is free, so businesses shouldn’t allocate resources to market through the social network:
"They figure that since it’s free, I can just test the waters, and if it fails, I haven’t really had any big cash outlay like I would with a TV commercial, or radio commercial, or brochures. What ends up happening is they end up self-defeating the strategy, goals, and objectives because they are expecting not to have to put any time, money, or effort into making it succeed."
3. Not giving users a reason to connect on Facebook
More businesses are becoming hip to Facebook, encouraging customers in print or TV ads and in their brick-and-mortar stores to like them on the social network. But then what?
Mullett told me that many times, brands can put Facebook icons in newspaper ads or have little signs in the store with Facebook page addresses, but several companies don’t link their offline and online marketing efforts. It’s lazy to just tell a customer to like a brand on Facebook without informing them why they should do so:
"An icon is a notification, not a call to action. How are you enticing people to join you and engage with you on a different platform than whatever they’re currently dealing with? If it’s on TV, what kind of a message brings them to Facebook and why? If it’s in printed material, what’s going to lead them to your Facebook page and why would they stay? Why would they come back? … It’s really important to connect those dots and make sure every employee is aware of where your Facebook page is and what value there is to the consumer by going there."
Mullett recommends that organizations talk with (not to) customers and figure out what brought them to the Facebook page. Maybe users who saw the Facebook address on TV liked the page hoping to cash in on a discount, while those who saw a print ad are interested in learning more information about the product. People like a page for various reasons-find out why, then you can start to tailor posts to these groups.
4. Measuring the wrong things—or nothing at all
The most obvious, basic metric on a page—"likes"—is usually the first thing an amateur marketer loves to see. In the heyday of Facebook marketing, the conversation was largely built around getting "likes" at whatever cost. However, what good is a bunch of "likes" if the people behind them don’t engage or share? It’s like throwing a party where 100 people show up, but no one is talking to each other. It’s great that you got 100 people to the party, but it’s probably pretty dull and very few will stick around.
By embracing metrics such as people talking about this and reach, Facebook page administrators can discover how many people are seeing their posts and who is conversing about the brand.
Mullett talked about how while it’s simple to see "likes" and comments, the true statistics take a little bit of digging:
"This is a really slippery slope, because they like to measure the things that are easy to see, and unfortunately, on Facebook, that is ‘likes,’ shares, and, to some degree, engagement. While those are not worthless metrics, and most people will agree that they’re not completely worthless metrics, they are not the ultimate thing that you’re trying to measure. We see this big extreme, where people either measure those items, which are not necessarily the right things to measure-like how many fans you have-or they just don’t measure anything at all. Ultimately you want to track it back to, ‘Is there an overall lift in business, in whatever business means to you?’"
See mistake No. 1. If the goal of a Facebook page is to get people coming into the store, offer Facebook-exclusive discounts and see how many people come in to redeem them. Don’t be afraid to ask people what brought them to the store, or what prompted them to "like" the page. Mullett noted that the question, "How did you hear about us?" can generate some powerful and useful responses, but not enough people try this.
The numbers that are most relevant to your company’s goals are the ones that should hold the most weight. Even just paying attention to Facebook’s PTAT statistic and identifying brand ambassadors will help far more than simply counting "likes."
5. Being too loud or boring
So you’ve got a Facebook page, and you know what you want to do with it. Great. Now figure out what kinds of posts are most relevant to your fan base, and use them in a timely fashion.
Many times, a user will "like" a page, then "unlike" it (or worse, report posts as spam) within a day or two if the page only brags about how awesome the company is, or if the content doesn’t jibe with the nature of the page.
Mullett talked about how brands should make sure they are posting relevant content, but not too often:
"A common question that we ask clients when they’re wanting to increase their fan base and they’re wanting to get more ‘likes,’ more engagement, more shares—’Would you follow your page?’ And surprisingly, many businesses, say, ‘You know, I probably wouldn’t.’ We ask them to fix the product first. The product is, in this case, what you’re producing. If the content that you’re producing isn’t resonating, if it is overly promotional—me, me, me!—then you need to switch up and you need to move to test content that may resonate with them, that does provide value and keeps them coming back."
Readers, what other Facebook marketing mistakes do you see?
A version of this article first appeared on AllFacebook.com.