By Alyssa Gregory

Stop Being Annoying! How NOT to Promote Your Business on Facebook

By Alyssa Gregory

facebookThe “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.

Friend Blindly

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?

  • Chase Adams

    I would add: “Become a Fan” invites. If I don’t become a fan the first time, I’m not going to become a fan every other day after that that you invite me to be a fan. It’s probably one of the worst abuses of social networking.

  • 5. Send me invitations once a week to “become a fan of your page” despite the fact that I have ignored your invitation repeatedly. If you ivite me and I don’t respond, get a clue. I am not interested.

  • Jayson

    Tagging photos of products for sale as friends!

  • IMGuy

    I’m in agreement with your method for the most part. Some of these group postings are always self promotional ( one of them posts 3 or 4 times daily!) and it’s a turn off though I haven’t abandoned the whole group just yet

  • nedlud

    Ooh, good one!

    It also shits me when people set up a Facebook profile for their business, then use it to friend me so they can ask me to be neighbours in Farmville.

    Not that I have anything against playing games on Facebook, but if you create a business profile, please keep it professional. If you want me to play a game with you, use your *personal* profile.

  • sime

    I can’t stand FB statuses being auto posted to Twitter. I follow a few bands/artists on Twitter and they essentially use FB as a Twitter client. When they post, the tweet has a short url back to Facebook, which is a massive turn off to me especially when there is no added value!

  • I would suggest people watch their language when posting on Facebook, Twitter, forums, blogs, etc. If you’re in a professional business, you’re hurting yourself with foul language.

  • John

    Nice tips, and refreshing to see SitePoint understands these things. I do not have Twitter or Facebook, as I personally do not find value out of them. I also get very annoyed at the excessive re-tweeting and self promotion many Twitter (and FB) users do. These are just tools for people who like to be social online, that’s all. They won’t make you rich, they aren’t going to make you popular, and if you are doing it for business purposes then expect to put in a lot of hours updating. In the end (like I found out) with Twitter, the ROI is minimal and the only thing which will keep you going is if you simply enjoy online social sites. If not careful, it can suck a lot of your time which could be used for more productive purposes (ie. learning or updating your skills, spending time with loved ones, going out of the house, etc).

  • palgrave

    Don’t create a profile page for your business – create a fan page. Not only is it against fb’s terms of service and they could one day do a clear out, it’s not natural to let some un-named social media admin in a company see your photos, wall and info as if they are a friend.

    You can get all the interaction with your customers and prospects you need from a well organised fan page.

  • Hi Alyssa and http://www.sitepoint.com, Thank You for sharing! You are welcome on the Chief Marketing Officer – India http://www.facebook.com/cmoindia page. You might also get value from http://www.facebook-fb.com to Submit and List Facebook Page URL, Products, Services, City, State, Country of Business and to Explore and Find Facebook Page URL of Business. Kindly share it with your friends! Best! Shakti Saran

Get the latest in Entrepreneur, once a week, for free.