What small businesses shouldn't do on Facebook
According to the Yellow Social Media Report (May 2013), 95 per cent of Australians who participate in social media use Facebook , which represents a significant business opportunity for brands and service providers. Of the 30 per cent of Australian small businesses with a social media presence, the majority (88 per cent) use Facebook as a marketing platformii. Twitter and Linkedin rank second and third with 22 per cent and 21 per cent, respectivelyii. However, if used incorrectly, social media can damage your business reputation and drive customers away. We look at what you should avoid when engaging with your customers on Facebook.
1. Don't start posting without a plan
When you use social media to promote your small business, it is essential to have a strategy in place. Think about what you want to use Facebook for, and define realistic goals you hope to achieve. Do you want to use Facebook to sell products or as a customer service platform? The better your understanding is of the purpose of your company Facebook page, the better you will be able to manage customer expectations and reinforce your brand. Consider who will be responsible for the company's Facebook page and when to share news with your community. The Yellow Social Media Report found that 37 per cent of Australian social media users check their networks first thing in the morning and 53 per cent after workiii. Therefore, it makes sense to schedule Facebook updates for the late afternoon or early evening. Also, make it a Facebook policy not to post company updates on other people's timelines - "that's akin to throwing flyers in someone's yard", and will make your company look "clumsy and rude"iv.
2. Don't share unrelated content
Part of your Facebook strategy should be to consider what kind of content you share with your community, because this will reflect on you and your business. Posting random news that is irrelevant to your customers can alienate them easily. Also, your Facebook company page is probably not the right place to utter political or religious opinionsv. Yellow Social Media Report's statistics for 2013 show that consumers who follow a brand on social media are mainly interested in discounts (66 per cent), giveaways (56 per cent) and product information (49 per cent)vi, which makes Facebook a great platform to announce special offers and promotions. However, be sure not to talk only about your business, but also share other interesting (and relevant!) content. For example, if you run a beauty salon, your community might be interested in the latest nail design trends from overseas.
3. Don't post links, images or videos without a comment, description or caption
Posting multimedia content or links repeatedly without any further description might give your community the impression that you're not thinking about what you share. Instead, fill your customers in on the details and let them know why you are sharing this information in order to score Likesv.
4. Don't neglect your Facebook community
Social media is all about interacting with your customers. On Facebook users are likely to ask questions, leave comments and give feedback, and if you don't respond to them in a timely manner it can raise frustration within your community. Allocate time to Facebook in order to respond to comments and questions within one to two business days, and to share interesting content with your community. However, too many updates is the other extreme you should avoidvii. Currently, 24 per cent of Australian small businesses update their social media once a week and 18 per cent do so on a daily basisviii, but it is up to you to find the right balance.
5. Don't make misleading claims
Consumer protection laws prohibit businesses from making false, misleading or deceptive claims about their products and services; of course, these laws apply to social media, tooix. Don't make false claims on your Facebook page, and be aware that you can also be held responsible for deceptive or misleading posts and comments made by others on your Facebook page. For example, if a user makes a negative comment about one of your competitors, and you leave it up, you may be held accountable. This is why the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission recommends removing misleading comments made by others instead of responding to themix.
With these tips in mind, you can decrease the risk of Facebook pitfalls that may impact your reputation and generate negative word of mouth.