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February 20, 2014

10 Mistakes Brands REALLY Need to Stop Making on Facebook

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458406407Think about it, just because you have a kitchen doesn’t mean you’re in the running for the next episode of Chopped. I mean, sure I have a kitchen too, but my list of specialties includes: cereal, macaroni and cheese, and toast (that’s often times burnt.)

Well, the same can be said for Facebook.

Just because your business has one, doesn’t mean that you’re doing it right. Even with 10 years of Facebook behind us, we’re all guilty of committing our fair share of social oversights and slip ups. It happens, we get it.

However, before we all start thinking about what Facebook’s next 10 years will bring about, let’s be sure that we've got a handle on what Zuck’s given us to work with so far.

Here’s the top 10 mistakes that your business needs to overcome as we join Facebook in welcoming a new decade of social innovation.

1) An Unoriginal Tone

Everyone has a few little peculiarities and mannerisms that set them apart from the next guy. A certain sarcasm, an uncertainty, or an unparalleled modesty will come across in your communications and serve as a defining aspect of your identity.

The tone that your brand employs works in the same way, and each bit of language you put forth should be conclusive to your overall message, objectives, and goals.

What does the tone of this post from Philippine Airlines say to you?

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If you answered: “What tone?”, you read my mind.

There is simply nothing unique about this post. It’s vague and so overly simple that it could have been posted by almost anyone.

What brands like Philippine Airlines are failing to understand is that the way a brand sounds and interacts will ultimately work to set a customer’s expectations and help to stimulate engagement and loyalty.

Point being, don't try to squeeze yourself into a mold that just doesn't fit, but rather, create your own identity.

2) WAY Too Much Content

Contrary to popular belief, Facebook content isn't content, it's micro-content, so consider inserting that period sooner rather than later.

With the introduction of short form social platforms like Snapchat and Vine, people have developed an insatiable appetite for snack-sized content.

The brands that are dominating their industries have not only recognized this shift in consumer behavior, but they have in turn begun to adopt a more succinct approach to content creation.

Unfortunately, Mercedes Benz missed the memo.

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Just because Facebook budgets a bit more space for content than platforms like Twitter, doesn't mean that you need to fill it. This post, for example, would have been much more appealing without the short Dicken’s novel accompanying it.

In fact, according to research by Buddy Media, posts with 80 characters or less in length have 27% higher engagement rates.

Believe it or not, nuggets of information can prompt your audience's interest more effectively than long-winded explanations.

To put it quite simply: less is more.

3) One-Way Engagement

The copy you put forth on Facebook should open up the floor for dialogue, not just a one-way broadcast.

Your Facebook page is no place for stale traditional marketing efforts focused on pushing out information that may or may not speak to the needs of your audience. But rather, Facebook is a modern marketing machine that runs best on quality content that is designed to feel more like an authentic exchange and less like static offering.

After all, Facebook is a SOCIAL network. It thrives off of native content that doesn't just speak at customers, it speaks with them and bring a sense of valued expertise to the table.

Look at the way these two Budweiser posts performed:

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The post that talks at the audience boasted far less likes and shares than the post to the right which probed the engaging question, “Is your fridge stocked for the weekend?

Now you see why it is important to take the time to understand the lay of the land, and design your engagement around just that.

In order to land a sale, you must first build a relationship, which is why issuing content that engages your audience isn't just recommended, it's necessary.

4) Inconsistent Branding

Creating a strong, consistent brand image is one of the most substantial competitive advantages possible.

Take a look at what you've got hanging in your closet; it's likely that at least a handful of your threads are branded. Whether it's a Nike swoosh or a Polo pony, each and every time you wear that shirt, you're functioning as a walking billboard for that brand.

The same can be said for the images you post to your business' Facebook account. If they're not branded, you're missing out on an opportunity to increase brand awareness. According to this post, it looks like somebody forgot to tell Kleenex:

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While we commend them for their cute and clever campaign, when a fan goes to share the image, there is nothing in place to attach it to their brand. Essentially this takes their cute and clever campaign and turns it into a less effective one.

Additionally, labeling your images will protect them from online theft or misuse. If another brand snags your imagery, a simple label has the ability to guide consumers away from the deception and into the arms of your website.

5) Poor Mobile Optimization

"2014 is the year of mobile" ...said every marketer ever.

In all seriousness, even people living under a rock can't avoid the imminent onset of all things mobile. While the message may have become a bit repetitive, the solution is simple: Adapt or fall behind.

Posts with poor mobile optimization are not only a waste of your time, but they're also a waste of your audience's time.

This particular post from the women’s clothing retailer, Zara, may first strike you as a clean, minimalist approach to Facebook marketing. However, we’re having a bit of trouble reading it.

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I pride myself in having 20/20 vision, but the indecipherable text above and below the “Hey Mum” outdoes even the teeniest line on an eye chart. Looks like it’s back to the drawing board for Zara, because if their message is lost on a desktop, it won’t stand a chance on a small-scale mobile device.

With 945 million of their 1.23 billion monthly users accessing the site on mobile devices, if your content is anything less than mobile-friendly, it's not going to make the cut.

6) Poor Timing

It's no secret that catching and maintaining the interest of today's Internet users is a big ask. News feeds are crowded, and noisy, making a Facebook post's journey from production to consumption a chancy one.

While the best time to post on Facebook certainly varies depending on your industry, your specific product/service, and your audience's demographics, there are considerations that you'll want to make.

On Super Bowl Sunday, Heinz Ketchup released two different football-themed Facebook posts, one at the start of the game, and one at half time:

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Note the discrepancy in likes. While there are certainly outside factors playing into the varying number of likes each post received, it’s definitely safe to say that one of the reasons why the halftime post performed so well was due to timing.

At the start of the game everyone is glued to the television, but by halftime viewers break to replenish their snacks, get a refill, and of course, check Facebook.

By developing an understanding of the way in which your audience behaves, you can then begin to position your posts for specific time frames that work best for them.

7) Incorrect Link Postings

This social slip-up might not seem like the end all be all, and that's because it's not.

When you share a link in the status update field on Facebook, the platform automatically generates both a thumbnail image, as well as a clickable page description that will direct readers to the page. This means there is no need to keep the additional URL with the written copy. It's repetitive, and at worst it will muddy up your message.

Take a look at this rookie mistake from Tyson Foods:

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By relying on Facebook to populate a link preview for their posts, their engagement rates fell flat. However, when they used a quick snippet of text, and a large visually-appealing graphic, they more than doubled their likes:

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Rather than rely on a block of text to sell a tiny thumbnail image, a full-sized creative and a simpler line of text will provide your audience with a post that is more appealing to share.

8) Ignoring Complaints

13% of dissatisfied customers will tell more than 20 other people about their negative experience. (Source: ClickSoftware)

Contrary to popular belief, ignoring a complaint doesn’t make it go away, Subway.

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By leaving these customer complaints like these unacknowledged and unresolved, Subway is actually making matters worse for themselves.

Take a look around. We’re living in a digital age where information is spreading faster than ever before. If a business thinks that they can simply sweep this type of dissatisfaction under the rug, they better be prepared for a storm of backlash.

Rather than view customer service’s change of face as a burden, it is important for businesses to recognize that this type of social transparency can help them pinpoint problem areas and correct matters accordingly.

9) Underutilizing the Cover Photo

Taking up nearly a quarter of your screen on most devices, your Facebook Cover Photo greets visitors as they come onto your Facebook page, a virtual welcome mat if you will.

This is visual real-estate that you simply can’t afford to overlook, yet many businesses are.

Squished up text, pixelated images, sale’s pitches so bad you’d think I was making it up. I thought I’d seen it all seen it all... until this happened:

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I can only imagine the discussion that accompanied this decision, or perhaps there wasn’t one at all. I mean, the lack of creativity is almost offensive.

Don’t overcomplicate the text, don’t hide content behind your profile picture, don’t neglect the size guidelines, but please, do something!

10) Trying Too Hard

Have you heard the news?

Newsjacking provides marketers with a unique opportunity to insert their business into a real-time cultural event in order to catch the attention of a greater audience and maximize their marketing message.

The thing is, for every newsjack that works there’s a handful that miss the mark entirely.

For example, Oxiclean’s attempt to newsjack tax filing season was a sad cry for attention:

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I mean, nothing says “go file those taxes” like a good old household cleaner, right?

It’s important to be picky when selecting a topic to newsjack; not any old event will do. Before you jump the gun, make sure the topic you are tying your brand to contain some relevance because when it comes down to it, nobody likes a try hard.

Start Doing it Right

There you have it. 10 frowned upon Facebook mistakes that are stifling your marketing initiatives. While you may be able to get away with mistakes like these on newcomer apps like Jelly, Snapchat, and Vine, Facebook is something your audience expects you to have down by now. So next time you go to craft a post on Facebook, revisit this list.

At the end of the day, avoiding these 10 mistakes could be just what your business needs to differentiate yourself from the crowd.

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Topics: Social Media Social Selling

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