Of all the social media sites, the one I use most frequently is Facebook. It’s an excellent platform to inform, educate, and most of all, engage with my customers, clients and friends.
Facebook is also an entrepreneur’s online storefront. If it’s not managed wisely, mistakes can quickly go viral and become a small business’s nightmare.
Understanding your audience, posting strategically and practicing online etiquette can go a long way toward growing your business. Here are three common mistakes to avoid.
1. Forgetting to Engage
Many entrepreneurs post updates periodically, but forget to participate. A Facebook page, when managed well, is an opportunity to showcase your brand and interact with others. Interaction is key. You’ll see the most success when you engage with your customers on Facebook instead of just updating them.
Think about what your customers want to hear. Or better yet, ask them. Experiment. Which posts garner the most likes and shares? I’m surprised that whenever I post photos of my dogs or business etiquette seminars, I get the most positive feedback. Hone in on what your customer base wants from you and give them more of it.
Facebook offers entrepreneurs endless ways to interact with clients. Those exchanges can give you valuable information on what you’re doing well and in which areas you can improve.
If you’re thinking about launching a new idea or product, ask your customers what they think. A couple of years ago when I was trying to come up with a title for my second book, I presented a list of possible titles to my fans on Facebook. Within minutes, I had a variety of helpful opinions.
Most people like to participate and when you engage your customers you will create lifelong evangelists for your brand.
2. Complaining, Criticizing or Feuding in Public
Keep it positive. Your customers and fans are following you because they like you therefore it’s best to be careful about what you post. It’s important to be transparent, but not at the expense of your reputation.
Only include information on your timeline that you wouldn’t mind seeing on the front page of the newspaper. Everything posted to the Internet can be copied, forwarded and preserved forever. Well-respected brands have experienced PR nightmares and scandals by simply posting something that could have been handled in an alternative manner.
It’s best to avoid ranting about a competitor or customer and never feud on Facebook. We’ve all dealt with the irate customer — the one who will never be happy. It can be frustrating. It may feel good to go off on a tirade, but it can tarnish your brand in the long run. If you’re unable to have a respectful discussion, in full view of everyone, send a direct message, whenever possible.
Before you post an update or send a message, ask yourself the following questions: Will it reinforce or enhance my brand’s reputation? Is it helpful information to my customers? Could it be received negatively?
You don’t have to overthink it too much, but be cognizant of how your words could be construed later. Potential customers could misjudge your brand which could cause you to lose clients or money.
3. Getting Too Personal
In the old days, it was taboo to talk about your personal life in public but social media has changed all that. To get your fans to care about you, it’s important to open up and share a little bit about your personal life.
It’s okay to share stories and pictures of your family, but be careful not to reveal too much personal information. Explicit topics including money, health and sex should be avoided.
And finally, refrain from using crude language online. That’s the fastest way to turn fans into foes. Your Facebook timeline should be considered an online brochure for your personal brand and what you can offer to others. Use it wisely and you will see your client base grow exponentially.
What are some mistakes you see entrepreneurs make on Facebook or other social media sites?
The author is an Entrepreneur contributor. The opinions expressed are those of the writer.
Jacqueline Whitmore is an etiquette expert and founder of The Protocol School of Palm Beach. She is also the author of Poised for Success: Mastering the Four Qualities That Distinguish Outstanding Professionals (St. Martin's Press, 2011) and Business Class: Etiquette Essentials for Success at Work (St. Martin's Press, 2005).