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Avoid these 10 common mistakes made by brands on Facebook

Like it or not, Facebook is the de facto homepage for a large chunk of the world’s internet users. They have around 450 million active users worldwide and around 2.6 million users in South Africa alone. In the attention economy your brand really can’t afford not to be on Facebook. Just be sure to avoid these common mistakes when starting out.

1. Starting a profile or group instead of a page

Many brands make the mistake of starting either profiles or groups for their brands because both of these entities are older, wider spread and more commonly understood by Facebook users. However both of these have drawbacks when compared to pages (which were designed from the ground up with brands in mind)


Key Feature Profile Group Page
Friendly URLs No No Yes
Member limit 5000 None (but messaging limited) None
Hosting a discussion No Yes Yes
Comment wall Yes Yes Yes
Facebook applications Yes No Yes
Messaging to all members No Yes (for < 5000 members) Yes
Statistics (visitor and engagement) No No Yes
Public video and photo exchange No Yes Yes
“Related” event creation and invitation Yes No Yes
Promotion with social ads No No Yes
Custom tabs (via static FBML) No No Yes
Custom applications No No Yes
Automation tool availability No No Yes

2. Naming your page badly

Obviously your brand name should be spelt correctly. If there are variant spellings or acronyms, then choose the variant that is most likely to be searched on. For example people will search for I&J before they search for Irvin & Johnson.

It’s tempting to put use your brand’s whole payoff line for your Facebook page’s name – but don’t. Long page names are harder to read and every time you post an update it will be take up more space than it needs to, creating visual clutter. People “scan” their Facebook updates – so short and clear is always better than long and detailed.

HOT TIP: You can’t change your page’s name – ever. Facebook expressly prohibits it for “security reasons” and the only way to rectify this is to literally delete your page and start again. Same goes for the category of your page – so beware.

3. Starting a page from a personal profile

If you start a Facebook page using a personal account, that page will always be “owned” by that account. Like the naming issue above, Facebook don’t currently have any way to transfer the “ownership” of a page. So when your marketing manager leaves for the opposition, she will take control of your Facebook page with her – like it or not.

The solution is simple – start a business account on Facebook. To do this, log completely out of Facebook, and look for the link at the bottom of the registration form which says: “Create a Page for a celebrity, band or business.”

Then follow the steps as usual and you’ll soon have a business account. Ideally you should use a general company email address for the account – an inbox that your whole team can use. You can’t use any email address that Facebook already associates with an account – so personal emails won’t work.

HOT TIP: Once you’ve signed up your business account and created your page, you can make your whole team admins on the page. This saves them having to log in and out of their personal accounts whenever they need to update the brand page.

4. Letting your page go stale

On Facebook you’re only as good as your last 10 updates. The news feed is the fuel on which the whole Facebook machine runs, and if you stop updating your page you cut off the fuel supply it needs to grow and prosper.

The average Facebook user sees several hundred updates in any given week. If you only update your page once a month, those updates will simply be drowned out by the regular hubbub of a busy social network.

At Media24 we’ve found that 3 to 4 updates per day is the “sweet spot” for most brands – but only your own experience can show you what will work for your brand.

HOT TIP: The more likes and comments one of your updates receives, the greater its reach. Craft your updates so that fans can interact with them. Ask them questions, set them challenges, tell them jokes, do whatever you can think of – just make sure you get their attention.

5. Dumping

If too few updates is bad, too many is worse. Don’t use your page as a dumping ground for every single press release, price update, chain letter or industry gossip that hits (or leaves) your inbox.

Facebook is a personal space and is far less noise tolerant than a channel like Twitter. Make sure your updates are carefully crafted, carefully scheduled, appropriate and respectful. If you can’t make them useful, make them amusing – but strive for both.

HOT TIP: Hooking your site’s RSS feed to your Facebook page seems like a great idea. It’s usually not. Rather update selectively using a power tool like Hootsuite – robotic updates just aren’t worth it.

6. Not responding to your fans timeously

Social media is essentially a giant, global conversation. To be successful in any conversation you need to respond when people speak to you. There’s no point in posting on your page if you’re not willing to deal with the responses from your fans.

Many brands see complaints and suggestions on their Facebook pages as an irritant or a problem – don’t. Although marketing and customer service are often separate departments in companies, users don’t think this way. As far as they’re concerned, they are speaking to the brand. This is a rare and wonderful opportunity to please a customer in public. Don’t miss it.

HOT TIP: Often all an angry customer needs is acknowledgement of their grievance, and a link to an appropriate channel (for example an email address) where that grievance can be resolved. Just make sure the channel is quick and responsive, or that anger will get worse.

7. Hard selling

Would you go to a friend’s house and try to pressure them into buying your product? Facebook is not a place for hard selling – it’s a place to form and maintain relationships with your current and future customers.

Does that mean you can’t list special offers and great deals on Facebook? Not at all. It just means you need to do so carefully, creatively and infrequently. If every second update screams “BUY! BUY! BUY!” then you will lose fans quicker than you can recruit them.

HOT TIP: Everyone loves to feel special. Offer your Facebook fans exclusive discounts or perks and they will appreciate it. Just make sure they really are exclusive.

8. Trying to control the conversation

In some ways social media is the ultimate democracy – the people (users) have the power and every voice counts as much as every other voice. This makes it unlike every other medium where the publisher controls – to an enormous extent – what is said (and not said).

That fact makes social media scary for many brands. But “lack of control” is just another way of saying “freedom” which is also another way of saying “opportunity”.

Yes, when what was once was your audience begins to dictate the message it will not always be flattering. But if you see that message as an engine to drive change and renewal in your brand, you could enjoy almost unparalleled loyalty, engagement and trust. Who needs market research if you can speak directly to your customers daily?

HOT TIP: If you try to control what is said on Facebook, you will only make things worse. Case in point: the Nestlé vs the orangutans  debacle. Rather change yourselves than seek to change your customers.

9. Unsuitable avatars

Your avatar – the picture that represents your brand page on Facebook – is arguably even more important than your name.

As a rule people scan web pages – particularly information-heavy features like news feeds. While scanning you are unconsciously attracted to clear and familiar visual markers. In the hurly-burly of a news feed, where each avatar has only 50×50 pixels with which to express itself, your brand needs to be recognisable above all else.

This means that, for most brands, you will need to rework your logo into something that works well at both tiny (50×50 pixels) and larger (200×200) sizes. It may mean creating an entirely new corporate identity extension for social media. It may seem excessive now, but it will be well worth it in the long run.

HOT TIP: Square avatars work best at all sizes on Facebook. If at all possible condense your logo into less than 10 letters across no more than two lines. Initials can work extremely well – as can symbols (if they are simple and distinctive). Weg magazine have a fantastic avatar.

10. If you build it, they won’t come (or even stay)

Social media isn’t free. You need to work for every fan you get, and work to keep every fan you already have. This takes time, effort, creativity and patience.

At the very least you need to commit to:

  • Regular content updates (weekly at a bare minimum)
  • Prompt responses to queries and complaints
  • Special offers or content (preferably both)
  • Reviewing and analysing stats (and changing behaviour accordingly)
  • Marketing your Facebook presence (on your own site at the very least)

These basics are enough to keep your head above water, but if you want to really make an impact you need to consider at least some of these:

  • Multimedia content (images and video)
  • Custom apps and/or games
  • Prizes/competitions/giveaways exclusively for fans
  • Advertising on Facebook
  • A dedicated social media community manager
  • Online reputation management software
  • Premium apps from someone like Involver or Wildfire

HOT TIP: Like the rest of the planet, Facebook runs on human emotions. The easiest of these to tap are ego and greed. Find ways to make your customers famous or cool, and they will love you forever (and probably recruit all their friends to be fans).

  • Great tips! Just a point of correction on mistake #1. You actually CAN create “related” events and send invitations from a FB group. :)

  • I established our company FB page before the advent of the business account. Do you know if there's a way to transfer the page to a newly created account? Our page is great, and fan interaction is increasing. I don't want to have to start again, you know?

    I like Facebook as a means of reaching out to fans. But, I actually find functionality and navigation – just the basic act of finding things – to be infuriating. I wish it wasn't such a labyrinth. I wonder if the next time they revamp it suddenly, that they'll take usability into account. I guess anything is possible.

  • lindapak

    Need to know how to convert all my group members to fans and move all group stuff onto page which I have created? Medical placements facebook group.

  • lindapak

    Would like to know if there is a simple way to convert my facebook grp to facebook page which i have created? How to move members frm group to page as fans?