I’ve decided I’m going to run a bit of a tips series on here. It’ll primarily be aimed at those that are in some way responsible for any online aspect of a small to medium business.
Reason being, there are so many Social Media channels out there and the documentation that goes with each can be very lengthy and cumbersome (yes I spelt it right). So instead, I thought I’d address some of the very easy-to-do but easily missed functions of some of the more popular Social Media networks. Starting with Facebook.
Facebook can be one of the easiest Social Media channels to get into for your business, and yet the potential to get things wrong can be quite significant! Thousands of New Zealanders do – there are some horrific examples of Facebook Pages out there and there seems to be an absolutely sinful approach by some more traditional business owners in that they take extra care over getting their newspaper advert absolutely perfect … and then think it’s fine to throw any old/incorrect/mis-spelt/marketing-law-disgracing content at a Facebook Page!
If you’re one of those people that do actually care about your Facebook Page, here are 3 very simple tips to help you to get the most from it (update: plus 2 more advanced ones thrown in for fun).
1. Check Your Hidden Facebook Posts
Facebook kindly attempts to remove spam or irrelevant comments from the Wall of your Facebook Page. While this is often spot on, sometimes it’s a little over eager and can get it wrong. Despite this, I’d still rather Facebook erred on the side of caution rather than have spam comments displaying on my Page.
When Facebook marks a comment as spam, it moves it to a ‘Hidden Posts’ section which you can access by clicking on the link under your profile photo. If you see a comment that is not actually spam, you can choose to un-hide it so that it displays on your Wall again.
Typically you should be checking the hidden posts section at least once a week. If you have an active community on Facebook and your fans like to comment a lot, you’ll obviously need to check it a lot more – at least 3 times a week. Facebook users can get quite frustrated if they believe you are the one deleting their comments – as they are unlikely to realise they have been automatically hidden by Facebook.
What makes a hidden post?
Facebook doesn’t make it entirely clear as to what factors go into the decision to hide a comment. But some suggestions are:
- The comment contains links to suspect websites or to Facebook Pages that Facebook deems to be irrelevant or poor value
- The comment has been marked as abuse by another Facebook user
- The Facebook user has a history of abuse complaints against them and their comments already marked as spam by other Facebook users
- A combination of a badly written comment coupled with a low quality Facebook user profile (e.g. no details, no profile photo)
A chap called James Noble (of JamesTNoble.com) walks you through the process to deal with these hidden posts and discusses some of the reasons in his video:
2. Run Facebook Promotions (But Follow The Guidelines!)
As long as you have linked to your Facebook Page from your website (and perhaps in your printed marketing material and other marketing channels) the number of fans your Facebook Page has will naturally increase.
This can be quite a gradual process and is one that will hugely benefit from some well-run promotions that are targeted towards liking your Page in some way.
Choosing a prize can be tricky. It really comes down to the value that you place on a Facebook fan and also the type of fans you’d like to get. One tried and tested way to get ‘mainstream’ fans is through dangling an iPad in front of them. I hate jumping on the bandwagon with this one but it really does seem to get results when done well.
However, to get more valuable fans – fans which will stay around longer, contribute to the value of your Page and even (heaven forbid) actually become your customer – you could try offering a Page which is significantly related to your business. Do you sell gardening products? Offer a garden make-over or a garden power-tool as a prize. Do you sell beauty products? How about offering a spa package or a voucher? It’s easy to see how these would reflect the sort of fans that you would accumulate through the promotion.
But here’s the key thing. Read the Facebook Promotional Guidelines and follow them by the letter! In fact, New Zealand-based Social Media Strategist, Cate Owen, has written a blog post that translates these guidelines into something that’s a lot easier to grasp in her post Facebook Competitions: Don’t Run One Till You’ve Read This. So read that too!
You may look at other promotions on Facebook and think that there are plenty of people running a simple ‘Like us and you’re in the draw’ promotion (that in its most basic format is against the rules), but the reality could be that there is some other functionality behind that process for their Facebook Page that means they are doing what they need to in order to comply with the guidelines.
It could also be the fact that they really are running a promotion that’s against the guidelines, in which case … more fool them! Facebook keeps a surprisingly long history of information related to your Facebook Profile and Facebook Page and you wouldn’t want to be the guy that set up that promotion when your Facebook Page is taken down, losing its 50,000 fans in a heartbeat!
If in doubt, run the promotion on your own website or Twitter account.
3. Claim Your Username
This is a very basic one but still one that many businesses miss. Your username is the text that appears after the final slash in ‘www.facebook.com/’. Without claiming this, the website address for your Facebook Page will be something horrendous, like www.facebook.com/pages/my-company-name-ltd-bollocks/012343543321321/.
If you claim your username, you can change this to something that is far more appealing to the eye, memorable and, last but not least, easy to write on your business card! For example: facebook.com/nzraw (don’t judge me by that – I don’t really have time to use it!), facebook.com/PAKnSAVE, facebook.com/brb, facebook.com/ASBBank, etc.
You can use fullstops in your username if you like. It’s also worth noting that the capital letters that you use will display in the final URL (as in the example for ASB) so feel free to match them to your branding. Some companies even make their username their website address – as is the case for facebook.com/Stuff.co.nz and (partly) facebook.com/NZScom.
To claim your username now, you’ll need a minimum of 25 fans (a great feature from Facebook – stops people squatting on all sorts of usernames) and then all you do is make sure you’re logged in as an admin of your Page and visit facebook.com/username. Just make sure you’re in the box that creates a username for your Page and not your personal profile! Once you set it, you can’t go back!
4. Post Engaging Updates 2 or 3 Times a Week
Ok I said I was only going to do 3 tips but this one really is fundamental if you’re going to be running a Facebook Page.
First off it’s important to realise that your Facebook Page is very different from your personal profile. You can’t simply post every time you find something interesting on the web, such as this video or those (bloody) photos.
Not only should you refrain from posting content that has no relation to your business, but you should also refrain from over-posting. Facebook’s own strategists recommend posting just 2 to 3 times a week. Any more than that and you risk ‘spamming’ your followers and causing them to unlike your Page. A marketing manager once balked at this and couldn’t understand how this was spamming. After all, we were posting the updates on our own wall. Remember – your Facebook Page posts will (hopefully!) be appearing in your fan’s news feeds. Take over their news feed with your frequent posts, therefore blocking out content from other Pages and friends that they are connected to, and they won’t thank you for it!
Secondly, it’s amazing how much your results will improve if you simply encourage participation from your audience. Not in the form of ‘If you like the sun today, hit like!’ While comments that ask people to like the comment will actually work in some scenarios if you’re onto it, in examples like this it’s totally transparent and reeks of desperation!
Instead, aim to more-often-than-not end your update with a question, or even an amusing challenge of some kind. For example, this update:
“We have a great special on tents this week. Get down to your local store for more details.”
… may receive some likes (people like the fact that you have a special on tents so ‘liking’ your status feels natural) but it’s unlikely to receive any comments or shares – it’s a combination of likes, comments and shares that will get your comment into more news feeds and in front of more people.
“Now that summer’s here, we’ve dropped our prices on tents! Where’s your favourite place to go camping?”
“We have some big specials on tents for you this week! What 3 things can you not live without on your camping holiday?”
These comments have a much better chance of receiving some replies plus you’ll even be encouraging your fans to share some great tips with each other, thereby improving your Facebook community and boosting the value of your Facebook Page.
Note: It’s worth being careful when you’re posing these questions. Have a good think about what would happen if someone posted a dodgy answer. It may only take one person to post ‘that’ comment before everyone else joins in and your comment has to be removed for the sake of decency! For example, it might not be best to ask “Who would you most like to share a tent with?”
5. Avoid Deleting Comments
Ok screw it. I’ve already broken my 3 tip rule so I may as well do it properly. This one is quite important too. Don’t delete comments unless they meet one or more of these criteria:
- They contain offensive language (base the level on the audience of your Facebook Page)
- They insight violence or hatred towards any group or race
- They contain offensive images or links to objectionable content
- They contain obvious spam or irrelevant advertising
In the event of the above, it’s a good idea to have a separate tab with your ‘Facebook Policy’ clearly displayed, such as this one for PAK’nSAVE. You can always refer to that if a user posts again to ask why their comment was removed. This is also a good place to put your promotion guidelines statement juuuust in case you forget it for any promotion you run.
If you ever delete a comment that is simply a complaint about your store, products or services … shame on you! In some ways, these type of comments are fantastic for your business. They give you a unique opportunity to address an issue that may be affecting hundreds of others. Not only that, but they give you the ability to flex your customer-service-muscles and demonstrate to the world how well you handle complaints!
Here’s a secret tip though for those of you lucky enough to have a solid and loyal fan base. If the complaint is quite petty or ill-conceived, try leaving it for a short while. You may find that other fans will jump on board in your defence! Either way, end by leaving a comment to say that you’re sorry they’ve had a bad experience with your product or service, and ask them to contact you by email or fill in the contact form on your website so that you can address the issue. Others viewing this conversation will then see that you have addressed the issue.
Simply delete the comment and you could put yourself at risk of a whole world of trouble! The user will not be happy that you have dismissed them and will more than likely follow up with far more negative comments. Ban them and they’ll simply rant about your business on their own Facebook Profile. Their friends and family may even then start commenting on your wall in defence of their friend, unleashing a whirlwind of problems for you!
So there we go. I hope those have helped you in some way. And apologies for the whole ‘3 tips’ thing. Think of it as buy 3 tips get 2 tips free ;)