Facebook - What you don't know will hurt you

"Likes" on Facebook

As I have considered what I might share with small businesses working to grow their business through social media I keep remembering an experience I watched unfold at a company last year.  The company in question was trying to improve how fans viewed the Facebook profile and they thought increasing the "likes" on their Facebook page was the ticket.  If they could just have that boost it would be smooth sailing from there.  They went and bought 1,000 "likes" on Facebook via Fiverr.   

With that problem solved the company kept plugging away with their social media strategy.  As the company reviewed who their "likes" came from they started noticing a trend.  They were a United States based company with a product focused within the United States, but their likes came from all over the world.  In fact, they had far more outside the United States than in it.

This wasn't a big problem until early this year when Facebook changed the way it promotes content posted on a company's page.  Facebook began to first push the content out to a very small subset of users to see whether or not they interacted with the content.  If they interacted with it then the post would continue to be promoted to more people.

What did mean for the company?  With 80 percent of their "likes" having come from people totally uninterested in their product they struggled to get their content to take off.  A mere 20 people would see the content.  They wouldn't interact with it because they weren't true brand lovers, and their social media strategy on Facebook began to crumble.

What can we learn?

I learned a few things from watching this unfold.

  1. Be organic - do as much as you can to have true organic growth.  Buying your way to the top can get you into tricky situations.  At some point fake growth will come back to bite you.
  2. Like "Likes" - My purpose here is not to say don't let anyone like you page.  "Likes" can be  very valuable to your business if harvested in an organic way.
  3. Content, content, content - Create content that is engaging.  Sending out one engaging piece of content per week is better than sending out 10 pieces of content a week that are totally boring.

Small businesses oftentimes have big restrictions on resources.  The social media stuff is very different from typical SEO strategies where many say to post as often as possible and not worry so much about the content.  A good friend of mine told me "People won't share on Facebook what they would be unwilling to invite into their living room."  Social media is about building a reputation and brand for yourself.  Nobody would invite a spammy person into their living room.  They would invite someone who listens, contributes, and gives back.

Take your time to get the right content.  Don't worry as much about posting all the time, and don't be afraid to reuse some else's content.  When I retweet something on twitter I score points for having found the content, but I give credit where credit is due to the person that led me to that content.

For more on the dangers of poor "likes" on Facebook check out this great video by Derek Muller founder of Veritasium.