The “best” way to use social networks is always subjective because what works for me may not work for someone else. So I’ll say up front that this post is entirely based on my own preferences and experiences, although I suspect that there are others out there who feel the same…or maybe you think some of the things I do on Facebook are highly annoying. Weigh in with a comment below and maybe we can create an outline of best practices for using Facebook for business promotion.
Here’s what you should not be doing on Facebook (according to me) to promote your business.
Abuse Group Messages
I am a member of a handful groups on Facebook, and there are a few that send constant messages to group members. This isn’t bad by itself, but when the messages are entirely self-promotional, unrelated to the purpose of the group, or sent daily, it’s a major turn off.
Unlike fan pages, messages to a group are treated as regular mail, so they hit members in their inbox and as an email notification if members have that option set in their preferences. This means it’s nearly impossible to ignore group messages that you have no interest in without leaving the group, which I have done in the past to end the annoyance.
Use the Same (Really Long) Status All the Time
One of the best features about Facebook is the ability to easily share short updates with your friends. Not only does this microblogging feature give us a chance to get to know each other better, a little bit at a time, but it also provides an opportunity to direct friends to a website, news item, video or announcement in an unobtrusive way.
It becomes almost offensive, though, when the status update is used for publishing mini blog posts, sales letters or other material that doesn’t really fit into the purpose of the status update. And even worse, using that same status update all the time. This is a quick way to get blocked from my news feed.
Assume Everyone Is On Twitter
Many of us use both Facebook and Twitter, so there can be a lot of overlap between our friends and followers. And many of us also use separate apps or the new built-in functionality that lets us post status updates in both places simultaneously. This is great in many cases because it makes it a lot easier to share information.
However, because Facebook and Twitter are very different animals, sometimes this double posting can be ineffective. For example, if you have your preferences set to publish everything you post on Twitter to Facebook, and if you tweet, retweet and/or use hashtags a lot, the value may be lost in the Twitter-to-Facebook translation.
A lot about social networks, especially when used for business promotion, is a numbers game. The more people you are connected to, the more visibility you have and (hopefully) the more traction you will get when it comes to marketing. But, to me, this doesn’t mean you should blindly and generically friend everyone.
Just because Facebook suggests that you may know someone who has some of the same friends as you, doesn’t mean you have to friend them. And if you do friend someone you don’t personally know, it’s really nice to add a note to your friend invitation. Don’t make me guess who you are and why I might want to connect with you. And extra points if your personal note actually addresses me by name.
Those are my top four ways not to use Facebook for business. Now it’s your turn. What’s your advice on how to use Facebook for business without annoying your connections?