last week we had a big chat on the build a little biz facebook page about facebook after i shared this article about facebook seagulls who are “someone who likes your page then craps on your wall.”
best. analogy. ever.
100+ comments on my facebook wall led me to the conclusion that this is a topic worth exploring. i have compiled the tipss and advice into one handy post that i hope will help you use facebook to promote your biz in a more effective and ethical way.
lets just start with a reminder about what makes something spam-ish. i wrote a whole post on this, so do go check that out, but the key ingredients to spam are these:
you need to keep those points in mind. if you are doing those things, then you are being spam-ish. stop now, and do better from now on. okay?
rule #1 – imagine the page is a shop
it has become common practice on facebook to say ‘hi’ on another biz page, asking for a like in return for yours, as a way to grow your fan base. i received some mixed opinions about this practice when i asked, with some people saying |no way. it’s rude and i hate when people do that to me”, some saying “as long as they are just saying hi and not promoting their biz on my page” and some saying “how else are you supposed to promote your biz?”.
we’ll get back to that last opinion later, but i would like to suggest a rule of thumb. if you wouldn’t walk into someone’s shop and do it, don’t do it on their page.
- if you had a shop and you noticed a great new shop just opened up down the street, you may in fact pop in and have a look around and say hi to the owner. introducing yourself, saying your shop is just down the street, and telling the owner what you love about their shop would be reasonable.
- you wouldn’t walk in and shout: hi i like your shop, so like mine too!! umm. that feels awkward just to type, i can’t actually imagine saying that to a store owner in person. so why would you do it on facebook.
- you wouldn’t walk in and shout: hi everyone! i am having a huge sale in my shop. everyone come over to my store now. when i get 50 people in there i will give away a prize! can you imagine? would someone actually have the balls to do that in real life? yah, don’t do that on someone’s page. it is rude to use someone else’s business to promote yours.
rule #2 – follow the example on the page
there are some pages that have the purpose of promoting businesses on facebook. so if what you want is a place to shout ‘hey i’m having a sale’, a contest or whatever, then find one of those pages to do that. market me has a great list of facebook pages that are good for this sort of promoting.
for every other page you visit, here is another rule of thumb. have a good look around the page before adding a comment.
- what does the purpose of the page appear to be?
- what does the page owner seem to comment on/respond to?
- what do the fans seem to comment on/respond to?
this will give you an idea of what type of post would be welcome on that page, and what type will actually result in a real interaction with the people there.
rule #3 – be genuine
i think part of the reason people are starting to be so sick of the spam-ish posting and tagging on facebook is that sooooooo many people are doing it now. it used to be ok for the odd self promoting post to show up on a wall but now it is just too much. it is almost as though people have that ‘well everyone is doing it’ mentality so everyone just keeps doing it.
just because everyone is doing it doesn’t make it ok, and certainly doesn’t mean it works.
facebook works best when it is used for truly engaging with people. it is called ‘social’ media for a reason. so here is another rule of thumb for you: be engaging. be personal. actually attempt to make a real connection with people.
- if you are truly wanting to ‘pop into a shop’ and introduce yourself then post as yourself not your business. certainly mention your business, but posting as you shows the owner that YOU are the one who likes their page. you like what they do.
- posting as your business has a place, definitely. but if you are trying to connect with people, consider that it might work better to post as you. if you do post as your business then leave your name as well. it is a lot easier to say hi back to a person then it is to say hi to a business name.
- take some time to look around at the page and make a comment about why you like their stuff, or ask a question for their expertise, or share a compliment that you heard about them. again, imagine you are in their shop and trying to strike up a conversation!
- and leave the excessive symbols and embellishments off of your posts. even if you have genuine intentions to make a connection, it makes you look spam-ish. just sayin’.
rule #4 – decide what you want
another thing you should consider is this: what is your ultimate goal here? are you trying to get likers (just higher numbers) or true fans ( people who LOVE your stuff and purchase from your biz)? i wrote about likers vs true fans before so i do recommend you read that post too.
my next rule is to have a plan in mind before you go off posting on other people’s pages.
consider it this way, if you had a shop selling women’s fashion would you be more inclined to pop in to the neighboring auto supply shop or the designer shoe store? where would you rather place your efforts in making connections and building relationships?
it is the same on facebook. decide what it is you hope to accomplish by visiting business pages and ‘saying hi’. are you looking to create a synergistic relationship with a business owner in a complimentary field? or perhaps you would like to develop a mentorship with someone in the same field as you? or perhaps you want to find out where your target market is hanging out?
rule #5 – what you think doesn’t matter
you might be thinking “other people are doing it, why shouldn’t i?” or perhaps you are thinking “i just stopped in to say hi? that’s not spam, why was it deleted?” or maybe you are thinking “how else am i supposed to grow my page. that is what facebook is for!” whatever your arguments are, forget them.
my last rule is this: if others perceive your posts as being spam-ish, then that’s what they are.
it doesn’t really matter what your motivation is, your intentions with your post or your feelings about spam… a page owner doesn’t know or frankly care about any of that. if they see your post as spam then your post will be marked as spam. you might even be blocked or reported. they will be protective of their page and their business and will do whatever they need to do to keep their fans happy.
so it is better to worry less about your intentions and more about how your actions are being perceived by others. if you follow the 5 rules you should be fine – if you are behaving as you would if you walked into a shop and struck up a conversation and if you are being genuine and engaging with the purpose of building real connections then that will come across.
generally, a page owner can sniff out a poster that has the sole purpose of shamelessly promoting their stuff. it’s yucky and it makes you spam-ish. so stop trying to sell your stuff all the time, think about how your posts look to others, and keep it real. if you do, people will ‘like’ you because they actually like you. imagine that!
we're not done...
this post has focused on how you interact on other facebook pages but there is a whole other side to the coin – and that is what you use your own page for. that is a topic for another post: how not to be spam-ish on your own facebook page.
do you have advice to add to this list? how do you interact on other pages without being spam-ish? what would you tell page owners about their ‘spam-ish’ posts on your page?