Monday, January 23, 2012

Bad for Business: 4 Poor Facebook Habits

If you don't have a Facebook page for your business, it's not the equivalent of trying to operate without a telephone and modern plumbing. But social media is something almost no business can afford to be without.

Social media allows a business to connect directly with its consumer base. A business with a Facebook page is approachable, personal and accessible.

Before the advent of Facebook, businesses relied on press releases and advertising to get the word out about sales or product developments that might interest customers. Compiling those took time and money. But the amount of information a company can disseminate now is constrained only by the number of times the person in charge of social media can hit the Post button.

The ease of disseminating information, coupled with a general lack of Facebook etiquette, can become a problem in its own right. And some common social media behavior can have serious negative repercussions. Below are four offenses business pages commonly commit.

1. Overposting

Because the only constraint to posting on a business Facebook page is the willingness and stamina of the poster, many businesses try to break their own posting records every day. Every thought the poster thinks is deemed essential public knowledge, and it's shouted from the Facebook rooftops with gusto.

Overposting clogs up users' newsfeeds. Your business’s postings become white noise and an annoyance. Then, they become spam.

When customers feel that your page has spammed them, they will either hide your business from their feed or delete you from their list. And once they delete you, the follower is unlikely to reverse their decision.

How much is too much? If you're posting more than once or twice a day, you risk alienating your customers.

2. Oversharing

Oversharing is not overposting, which is talking too much. Oversharing may be treating the business’ Facebook page like your diary or your political soapbox. Treating your company’s social media page as anything except a PR platform is oversharing.

It's fine if you want to inject a little personality into your promotion platform. But there’s a fine line between "personality" and "personality crisis," and once you cross the line, your page is toast. People will hit the "Hide postings from…" button faster than you can say "Ron Paul Forever!!!" (Oh, and turn the caps lock off.)

3. Poor writing

Many businesses cut a corner by writing their own social media content tor farming it out to an intern with poor grammatical skills. Your Facebook feed come across like the the local furniture-store owner who does his own TV commercials. Unless that’s the aesthetic you’re going for, consider having somebody professional look it over.

And by professional, we don’t mean your text-speak-fluent "resident young person." Bad writing (multiple misspellings, clunky prose, the overuse of emoticons and abbreviations) makes your Facebook page look unprofessional. How many people want to patronize a business projecting a voice that says essentially, "Uh, yeah, whatever"?

4. Lack of moderation

Your Facebook Wall is like your community bulletin board. So, it will probably collect graffiti. Personal musings, links to dubious sites, pictures of somebody in a swimsuit—whatever it is, random crud will clutter up your page. You have to be diligent to keep your Facebook page spic-and-span. Otherwise, you risk having a page where law has no name.

While you don’t need to put a full-time hall monitor on your page, you have to clean things up once in awhile and delete postings that don’t fit the purpose of your Facebook page.

Article by Jacob Harper for Open Forum.

More about the author:
Jacob Harper co-founded the Vintage Vice clothing store and apparel brand in 2006 when he was 23. He sold Vintage Vice in 2009 and now works as a teacher and writer. He is currently a writer for the weekly political sketch show Top Story! Weekly at the iO West in Hollywood.

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