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4 Toxic Mistakes Businesses Make on Facebook

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Earlier this month, I sat on a keynote panel at the Geek Girl Tech Conference where I was asked the following question: “What is the biggest mistake that businesses make on Facebook?”

How do you think I answered?

1. Reliance on likes

This was my first response — the disproportionate focus companies spend on getting Facebook page and post likes. Facebook success should be measured by the percentage of page and post likers who demonstrate an increasing interest in your company’s products and services, not an increased interest in your kitten meme photos. UNICEF Sweden has said it best in its recent video campaign.

UNICEF Sweden has told its fans, “Likes are great, but donations are what we need to eradicate polio around the world.” What keeps YOUR business afloat — donations, purchases, event signups — or likes?

2. Contests that violate Facebook rules

Since I recently wrote an ebook on Facebook contests, I had to mention another toxic mistake made by so many businesses. Ironically, businesses often run these types of contests to get post likes (instead of more sustainable goals such as growing an email list or gaining market feedback).

As of August 17, 2013, only the second example violates Facebook rules. You cannot “share” a post in order to be eligible for a prize. 

Luckily, great companies like Shortstack or Offerpop offer many affordable, Facebook-compliant contest options that occur as a fan page app (a “tab” for you old school Facebook page admins) that offer you the option to better brand your contests and capture emails for future mailings.

I ended my answer to the moderator’s question there, but let me offer two other mistakes I frequently see.

3. Cover photo full of text

Facebook gives businesses 851 x 315 pixels for their fan page cover photo. That’s a nice piece of real estate. Many companies take that space to announce promotions, mission statements, and contact information. New visitors to a Facebook fan page typically take seconds, not minutes, to decide whether they’re going to like it. Why slow down new visitors’ ability to immediately hit the “like” button by covering your image with a whole bunch of messaging they have to wade through?

A picture really is worth a thousand words here. So woo potential likers by selecting an arresting image and letting it shine unencumbered by text.

4. Posting without a plan

It’s surprising to me how many companies — I’m talking both mom ‘n’ pops AND the big kahunas here — who don’t use an editorial calendar to organize their messaging on Facebook. I guess it comes back to the question, “Is your company after likes or new business?” If it’s the latter, mapping out appropriate posts throughout the month is key for you to achieve that goal.

All four of these mistakes require some time, effort, and money to rectify. But once fixed, you should see your bottom line benefiting from these changes.

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Headline Photo Credit: Flickr CC / eggrole

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  1. Great tips and fun tutorials! I loved the Grandmaster Flash reference in your ‘Don’t Boost’ video!

    Wanted to quickly point out that there’s a typo in your Shortstack URL link above.

    Looking forward to more tutorials and tips! :)


    • Lisa Kalner Williams

      Thanks — I’m glad I have another Grandmaster Flash fan in the house! Additional thanks for pointing out the typo for Shortstack. I’ve now changed it and tested it — all is well.

      Welcome to my sites and tips!

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