These days, most businesses have gotten the hint that they need to have a presence on Facebook. Searching for a business on Facebook and seeing they don't have a Facebook Page garners the same reaction from users as searching for a business on Google and seeing they don't have a website: You just don't look legit.
But once you've created that business page, navigating the waters of building a Facebook presence is another matter entirely. How often should you post? When should you post? Why are your images all pixelated, and how can you fix them? Do you really have to respond to that troll?
Many of the most common mistakes businesses make on Facebook are entirely preventable. To help you avoid these pitfalls and operate your Facebook Page smoothly, we've listed out some of the most common mistakes businesses make on Facebook. Here's what not to do.
13 Facebook Mistakes to Avoid
1) Don't create a profile instead of a page for your business.
This may seem elementary, but you'd be surprised by how many people make this mistake. Before we get to more advanced tips, let's set the record straight: Facebook profiles are meant for people, while Facebook Pages are meant for businesses.
2) Don't neglect to monitor the posts or comments on your page.
JetBlue's manager of customer commitment Laurie Meacham once told me, "We're all about the people, and being on social media is just a natural extension of that. It's no different than any other part of the airline."
No matter your industry, that couldn't be more true. The point of Facebook is to interact with your customers and target audience who are already hanging out there. (And considering Facebook has just under two billion active users, it's likely that they're hanging out there.)
Ignoring comments and interactions is like saying to your customers, "I don't care what you have to say." To avoid this, start by making sure that the desired publishing options for your Timeline are turned on. While some businesses allow users to post and leave comments on their page without review, others prefer to manually approve them, and some don't allow publishing permissions at all.
Although the choice is entirely up to you, we recommend that you treat your page like a two-way street rather than a channel to broadcast your voice, and your voice only.
Once you've got that straightened out, be sure to monitor them daily and respond when appropriate. (For time-saving tips, flip through our free ebook on how to monitor your social media accounts in 10 minutes a day.)
3) Don't ignore negativity.
What if they complain? What if they troll?
You can't stop people from saying things about your brand, good or bad. What you can do is respond respectfully and provide helpful information. Responding not only shows people you're concerned about their happiness, but also that you're engaged. (Read this post for more tips on diffusing negativity on social media.)
4) Don't leave the meta description as is.
When you paste a link into a new Facebook post, the meta data from that post (an image and a short description) gets pulled in automatically. But that doesn't mean you should just press "Publish." Instead, add some relevant post copy like a quote or statistic from the article you're linking to. Remember: Facebook is now searchable thanks to Graph Search, so think about naturally incorporating relevant keywords into the description.
In addition to editing the post copy, you'll want to remove the URL from the box before posting. Aware that Facebook automatically populates meta data when you paste a link, deleting the extra URL will help to reduce visual clutter without messing with the post.
5) Don't just post photos.
In the past, images dominated the News Feed. But things have changed, and images now have the worst organic reach of all post types. Video is now the best post type for organic reach, thanks to Facebook's most recent strategy shift toward video. And here at HubSpot, we've found that the best post type for engagement is videos and link posts that include the large (484 x 252) preview image.
Instead of sticking to one or two content types, experiment a little bit. Facebook is a place where you can let your brand's personality shine. Post company culture pictures and have people tag themselves. Consider having Facebook Q&A discussions, like Peg Fitzpatrick does with her "Thanks a Latte" sessions. Post links with one-word copy, and others with multi-paragraph copy. Find out what works best for your audience, and remember that your audience is always changing -- so test continually.
6) Don't make your posts too long.
Again, testing post length is the best way to gauge what your audience likes. The optimal length of your Facebook Timeline posts will vary from company to company. For some, longer, informative Facebook posts perform better. For others, like BuzzFeed, short ones work perfectly.
While it's important to experiment to see what your audience responds to best, here's what we will say: There is some solid evidence that shorter posts generate the highest engagement. Jeff Bullas found that retail brand posts fewer than 80 characters in length received 66% higher engagement than longer posts. Particularly concise posts (1 - 40 characters long) generated the highest engagement.
7) Don't post images of just any size.
Pixelated, cluttered, or difficult-to-read visuals will not only frustrate users, but they'll also give you a bad reputation.
Facebook doesn't just have specific image dimensions for profile photos and cover photos. (Although those are important, too.) It also has ideal image dimensions for images you post on your Timeline, the ones you use in sponsored posts, sidebar ads, and so on. To help you keep everything straight, check out this handy cheat sheet:
Image Credit: Digital Information World
8) Don't post click-bait.
When you link to a web page in a Facebook post, Facebook now looks at how long people are spending on that page in order to measure its usefulness. The lesson? Don't post click-baity headlines that don't deliver on your promises.
In an effort to determine what type of content users preferred to see in their News Feeds, Facebook conducted a survey and revealed that 80% of the time people preferred headlines that helped them decide if they wanted to read the full article before they had to click through.
So if you're looking to meet the needs of your audience on Facebook, consider posting links to clear, informative blog articles. When the headline sets the right expectation for what a user can expect from the content, it's easier for them to see the value in what you're offering and remain on the page to read the article. When it doesn't, they bounce off the page and Facebook takes note.
9) Don't assume you should only post during business hours.
A TrackMaven study found that posts published after-hours (5 p.m. - 1 a.m. EST) got 11% more interactions than those published during the day (8 a.m. - 5 p.m. EST). These after-hours posts also got 29% more interactions than those published before work (1 a.m. - 8 a.m.).
What about weekends? TrackMaven's study found that posts published on Sundays got 25% more Likes, shares, and comments than Wednesday posts, even though fewer than 18% of posts were published on weekends.
The takeaway here is to publish posts at varying times, including evenings, nights, and weekends. This is especially true for business with international audiences whose fans are awake at all different times of day.
10) Don't post too often (but do post regularly.)
Yes, you should post regularly to keep your audience engaged, show them you're present and listening, and answer their questions and concerns.
However, what you don't want to do is overwhelm them with tons and tons of posts. We recently published a blog post summarizing research we did on how often businesses should post on Facebook. It included posting frequency benchmarks by industry and company size based on Facebook data from our 13,500+ customers.
What we found was this: Companies that are selective about what they publish -- i.e. they take the time to craft a smaller number of high-quality Facebook posts instead of a lot of Facebook posts -- performed best.
11) Don't forget to experiment with targeting and ads.
As a result of the recent decline in organic reach on Facebook, many companies are turning to Facebook advertising to capture the attention of a more qualified audience. With Facebook advertising, you can target people who've visited your website, used your app, or signed up for an email list. You can also target similar or "Lookalike" audiences or set up campaigns aimed at getting Likes on your Page.
But you can't just throw money at Facebook advertising and expect everything to work. It'll only work if you're smart about it -- which means experimenting and tweaking your advertising plan to see what works.
Where should you start? We created this step-by-step guide to Facebook advertising to help marketers learn how to create successful Facebook ads. And if you want to check out examples of real Facebook ads that have worked really well for brands, check out this blog post.
12) Don't forget which account you're posting from.
The Facebook News Feed looks basically the same whether you're logged in to your personal account or your company's account, making it all too easy for Page administrators to forget which one they're posting from. You wouldn't want to respond to commenters from your personal account when you meant to respond from your business account, or vice versa.
However, the truth is ... sometimes accidents happen. In fact, one of my colleagues once accidentally posted a picture of her baby bump from HubSpot's Twitter account. While it was a harmless mistake, she wrote up a blog article to provide businesses with the advice they need to overcome a social media slip-up.
13) Don't have multiple Facebook accounts.
This advice applies to both your personal and professional activities on Facebook.
On the personal side, there are two reasons why you wouldn't want to have two accounts. The main reason is that Facebook doesn't allow users to have two personal accounts -- it's against their Terms of Service. So if they find out you have two personal accounts, they'll shut them down. If it weren't against their terms, having two personal accounts would be a pain to maintain. Do you have enough content going up on both to round out your presence? Where do you draw the line between the two? Which account will you show to your friend who works in your industry? Instead of having to delineate between two parts of your life, you should take advantage of Facebook's robust privacy settings.
On the professional side, there are no such restrictions from Facebook. You can make several pages for your business without the social network even noticing. But should you?
For most businesses, we don't recommend it. You've only got so much time in the day to devote to Facebook -- why spread yourself thin just to maintain several pages?
Plus, there are lots of other great options for you. First, you can take advantage of Facebook's targeting options -- you don't need to pay to send updates to certain segments of your audience. So instead of creating a page for one segment of your audience, you can just post tailored content to be shown only to them.
Second, if you have a huge audience that lives all over the world, you can think about implementing a Global Page. If you'd like to get your Global Page set up, you need to get in contact with Facebook directly. (Full Disclosure: You'll probably already need to have a hefty Facebook ad budget in place to make this happen.)
In short: Keep it simple. Don't create more accounts and pages than you need.
What other major mistakes do businesses make on Facebook? Share them with us in the comments.
Editor's Note: This post was originally published in January 2011 and has been updated for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.