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January 11, 2012

10 Biggest Facebook Marketing Mistakes of 2011

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Estimated reading time:
7 minutes

Audience:
Facebook marketers and SMB DIYers

Top takeaways:
• Don’t overestimate the importance of Facebook pages. It may be more effective to use Facebook ads for your marketing on the platform.
• Post content your audience cares about on a personal level. In selling, match your “what” to their “who.”
• Facebook marketing is incredibly trackable and measurable. Visibility and engagement can be tracked overall and at a per-post level.

Welcome to 2012. It may rock for you, especially if you don’t make the same social media mistakes people did in 2011. If you’re doing any kind of marketing on Facebook this year, try not to make the same following 10 mistakes that are, unfortunately, all too common:

1. Overestimating the Importance of Facebook Pages

Less than 1 percent of page fans ever go back to your page. You can create a custom tab and set it as the default for non-fans. So, your custom tab might be seen by non-fans, assuming they didn’t already like your page from a Like box on your website or the Like button on a fan-growth ad.

But if they did, they’ll never see your welcome tab; fans always go straight to the Wall. On a daily basis, fans may see your posts in their news feed, if your posts are interesting and get likes and comments. Your Facebook page is not another website for you. It’s a social email. Pages are not as important as posts and EdgeRank.

Also, you don’t have to have a page to do Facebook marketing. You can use the advertising platform to get more targeted traffic to your website. Fan marketing (marketing on Facebook with a business page and fans) requires quality content and attention to detail. If you don’t have the time to do that, you might want to try just ads first.

2. Caring Only About Numbers of Fans

It’s amazing how many people only look at how many fans a page has, not how many it’s reaching with the average post (I like to get that info from PageLever, but you can also export your stats from your Facebook page Insights to Excel and average it yourself).

Since so few people go back to pages and most fans will only hear from you again through your news feed, EdgeRank and reach are critical. You must get interaction to remain visible. The stats are discouraging — many pages are only reaching 5 percent to 10 percent of their fans per post. And that raises real fan acquisition costs by 10 to 20 times!
Getting a fan does not give you a captive, forever-attentive audience. It gives you the opportunity to keep them interested. Your posts had better be engaging, or you’re lowering the value of your page every day.

Is ROI important to you? You aren’t just trying to be visible and engage, are you? You probably want people to become business leads or buy something. If your fans aren’t people who fit your target customer profile, they may never buy.

Contests may produce numbers of fans but not qualified buyers. If you run a contest, make sure your contest qualifies them in the process. For example, if you sell mountain bikes, make them send you a quick story about mountain biking to qualify for the contest. Or take what you know about the best buyers and target those kinds of people with Facebook ads to grow your fan base.

3. Thinking You’ll Get Enough Fans from Your Email List

On first look, it seems obvious you’d want your email subscribers to become fans of your Facebook business page. And you do. But what’s not obvious is that even if you contact them repeatedly and incentivize them to do so, you’ll be fortunate to get 25 percent of them to do so. The reason why is simple math: even if 30 percent open your emails, and 10 percent click, not all of them will follow through. You never get 100 percent response to anything online. Multiple steps always cause a drop-off in compliance. You’re going to need other sources of fans, like Facebook advertising, a Like box on your website, and perhaps contests.

4. Thinking About Yourself Instead of Your Audience

Most of us are good at talking about ourselves and our own companies. And that’s boring. You want to see what percentage of people find you fascinating? Create a Facebook ad with just your face and name and no call to action. I’ve actually done that, and only about 0.05 percent of people will click on that if I include my major benefit to businesses. When I did an even more boring ad with my name and face, I got 0.01 percent. Only one out of 10,000 strangers cares about me. Not surprising.

Brian Carter

5. Posting Content No One Cares About

You actually have to think about what your audience cares about and appeal to that. What do they need? What do they love? If you do Facebook advertising to precise interests, you’ll learn this along the way and can apply it to your posting ideas. All the typical rules of great blog posts apply. You have to have a good headline, it helps to have a list or numbers, and pictures and videos rock. By the way, photos are the most liked and shared type of content on Facebook. You should probably post a lot of them.

6. Posting Too Frequently (Quantity Over Quality)

Some pages post too much, and at the same time post things people don’t interact with. All this does is lower your EdgeRank quicker so you can reach fewer and fewer people more and more frequently. Is that really what you want?

It’s better to make sure you’re creating quality posts. Review your engagement for past posts to see what worked and what didn’t. Create surgically. By all means, experiment, but learn from your experiments. Use calls to action: ask for the likes and comments. Don’t be shy. More people will do it if you ask. Don’t post with a custom publisher if that prevents you from customizing your posts. Don’t post photos without some text and a call to action.

And if you are a company that has three or more admins who feel they can post whatever, whenever they want, you’re going to need to do some training, or revoke their rights and have it go through a point person who understands that boring posts lose fans.

7. Creating All Your Content Yourself

It’s a lot of pressure to create and post quality content every day. Something we learned from years of Twitter is that some of the most popular and retweeted folks are simply curating other people’s content. You can do the same for Facebook, for example, create a new blog post to quote and comment on popular, viral content (I would advise that, so you can get the traffic benefits). A product like InfiniGraph can help you find Facebook posts that already have proven likes, comments, shares and clicks.

8. Treating Facebook Like Other Marketing Channels (Twitter or Search)

Facebook has multimedia advantages over other channels. If you don’t use them, you lose in the news feed, because your posts are competing with everything else. Tweets are short, but Facebook posts can be long. Take advantage of that. Autoposting blog posts without commentary or a call to action is lazy and leads to loss of fan visibility. Don’t do it.

Facebook is not search marketing. It’s social. It has to be interesting. And you have to understand your potential customer better. Google is about what people want. Facebook is about who they are. You can sell your “what” to their “who.” But, it requires a change in your thought process.

It’s comparatively easy to sell headphones to people who search Google for “buy headphones.” But, it may be new to brainstorm people who already “like” techno music on Facebook and will want quality headphones, or those frequent travelers want noise-canceling headphones and probably already like “Gogo inflight Internet” and the topic “#frequent flyer program.”

9. Ignoring or Disparaging Facebook Advertising

Some people don’t like advertising at all. Some marketers and PR folks look down their nose at it. Some business owners try to avoid the hard costs associated with them. All of these people are missing out on The Biggest Marketing Opportunity in Human History. I capitalize it that way because I hear it that way in my head. I really think it’s that important.

You can target and segment 800 million people via 16 targeting factors for a minimum spend of $5.00. That’s a TV-sized audience with better targeting than AdWords (yes, there’s no intent but you can get around that with the “who” targeting approach I mentioned in the previous tip). Some say that, in its growth, Facebook ads will pull more money from TV than from AdWords. I think it will cause substantial shifts from each.

I’ve seen ecommerce sites make direct ROI from both Facebook ad spend for traffic and Facebook ads spent to get fans – the best strategy depends on your business. And if you want more awareness (which turns into more Google searches and purchases), Facebook ads have the cheapest CPM in the world. Facebook advertising costs roughly one-fifth of the CPC of AdWords and one-eighth the CPM. Ignore it at your own peril. Facebook ads in 2012 are like the AdWords ads of 2004. Now is the time.

10. Ignoring Metrics and Analytics

Every bit of internet marketing is measurable and trackable. Both visibility and engagement should be tracked for your Facebook pages. Correlate interaction with posts and learn from what you’re doing by using Facebook Insights or PageLever. Go the extra mile and track not only the ROI of Facebook traffic, but also how your Facebook activities affect other marketing channels. Is Facebook increasing the number of searches for your brand? Is it increasing the overall conversion rate for your website? Add URL tagging for your Google Analytics. And can you install multichannel analytics to see where people first heard of you, even if they finally bought via Google.





8 responses to “10 Biggest Facebook Marketing Mistakes of 2011”

  1. Anthony Pensabene writes:

    Good write up, Brian. This should be handed to every small biz owner or Web master before seeking social media services or desiring to make some traction on their own. I especially champion number 7 – it is a lot of pressure to do all the orchestration in-house. Most times, sharing outside-brand info shows your own followers and consumers you’re aware, plugged-in, and have no qualms sharing the insight of other brands or creating your own, in-house spin upon it.

  2. Louie Molina writes:

    This is such a true point of view Brian. There are businesses that don’t see it this way, especially the ones that think that by just having a fan page and having the receptionist post occasionally is enough. Great post..

  3. Robert writes:

    Brian

    Here’s a testimonial to your book and tenants. I read “The Like Economy” and followed quite a few of the things I learned. As a hobby I’ve always kept Parrots. I didn’t personally know anyone who had large birds as family members like I do. So, as an experiment I read your book and I set up a FB fan page. I thought I’d be happy to get a couple hundred people I can converse with about owning these animals. That was a couple of months ago. The page now has over 15,000 Likes. I know you say don’t focus on Likes but the average post will get 50-150 comments, 50-150 shares and a couple hundred Likes. As stated above, this isn’t a business (maybe one day) but a hobby so it naturally lends itself to being a lot more social. I just think it’s pretty amazing how following a few of your suggestions has connected that many people from all over the world with an exotic interest. I put the url of the fan page as my website so I’m assuming it will link my name there if you or anyone else wants to see.

  4. professional blogger writes:

    Hey Brian, are there any suggestions from your side on how to make a fan page look more appealing to a user? I always thought that the number of likes are the indicators of how our marketing efforts are paying off. But since you have mentioned “caring abt no of fans” is a waste of time, then what else could be done? Thanks..

  5. Sasha Jones writes:

    Businesses should be focused on implementing active Social Media Marketing Campaign. Just signing up and creating a page isn’t enough.

  6. Sasha Jones writes:

    Passive Social Media Marketing Campaign is the biggest mistake.

  7. Sasha Jones writes:

    From my perspective, the biggest mistake is starting social media campaign without consciousness for the need of active engagement

  8. Andrew writes:

    The importance of facebook is great because in some countries do not use traditional web pages to market their products or businesses, are using facebook more than other social networks and this with an amazing result, and with all these tools gives us facebook this making it easier and more economical work for these small business or home business



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