Facebook. Some love it, some hate it. For us, it depends on the client. However, it's always beneficial to know the advantages and disadvantages of a social media network - especially when it's as big as Facebook.

We compiled a list of seven things that all businesses should stay clear of on Facebook. In the nicest way possible we think that Facebook is full of a lot of 'questionable material', shall we say. It's not, typically speaking, a professional network, however, if millions of people are on it, then your audience is probably somewhere in the midst of that. For this reason, we believe that certain businesses, particularly small retailers and kitsch product sellers, should be on the platform.

There are plenty of advantages, extra capabilities and analytics on Facebook, if the platform is right for your business and, if you are behaving correctly on the social media network.

For your own good – and that of your business – avoid...

1. Sharing inappropriate photos and/or videos

Don't treat your business page as a place to share photos of 'sexy' models/actresses/singers/actors/footballers etc. Never upload, like or share inappropriate content of any nature, including content that is violent, sexual or incites hatred towards any sector of society. You can turn customers away, if you decide that you want to put your personal views/interests in the public domain, under the name and branding of your business.

2. Not publically declaring original house rules

Ideal for imposing rule #1, house rules are imperative to really set a standard for the kind of content and conversation which your page sees. Don't let people use hateful or abusive language, if you are really want to portray yourself as a professional operation. It's good to have clear rules about what you will and won't allow from your page followers, as well as comment moderation, to stop any negative, unconstructive language being publicised.

3. Getting into arguments or disputes with fans

Similar to the previous rule (#2), you shouldn't encourage, nor retaliate to, fans' snide comments or remarks about you, your business or Facebook page. Instead, offer them a simple, to-the-point reply that stops the situation developing, perhaps direct messaging them that any constructive feedback is helpful. Lots of businesses can take it personally when they get a bad review or harsh comments, but it's best to prove to the other fans out there that you can handle it well – they'll remember how you responded.

4. Being irrelevant with the content you post

Any content should link to your purpose, audience, location (or similar). Irrelevant content can really annoy Facebook users who have many pages and friends already cluttering up their news feed. Don't just post a lame 'Have a nice day' status – worse still, don't pre-programme such zero-worth statuses to go off every day, at the same time. You want to grow your following, engage with them, asking insightful business-related questions and sharing content that you believe will earn a positive reaction (see #1).

5. Using a personal profile as your business page

Major no-no. This is probably the most basic, but common, mistake businesses on Facebook make. Never try and 'make things easier' by combining your profile page as a business page. No matter how many of your customers are friends, they do not need to see you commenting on pictures of a new family baby, nor you uploading YouTube videos of your favourite band. Yes, you may already have plenty of Facebook friends (a large following fast) but you can't remain professional, consistent and relevant 100% of the time, so it will become a hindrance.

Business pages also have brilliant features, such as public check-ins (let people see where you're based), an editable page layout (brand your page better than you can on Twitter), likes (shows how many appreciate your brand) and recommendations (allows people to write about how good you are), so you'd be mad not to make use of these opportunities.

6. Asking for likes and/or shares

Never appear like you need Facebook users to help you, you should be helping them by providing an excellent business/product/service and creating engaging, worthy content for the users reading it. Competitions are a great way to build up a following if you're just starting and want to boost those numbers, but the best way to gain a large following is being a strong, well-known brand, with a good content creator behind the scenes of your page.

7. 'Selling' with every post you publish

Although it's fine to occasionally post a sales-related message, and more often is fine if you have a large following with a strong reputation. However, this is isn't the sole purpose of Facebook. Neither is it, as a rule, the sole purpose of any form of social media marketing. As businessmen and women, we engage with social media marketing because there is a real need to increase brand awareness and encourage increased customer engagement – not because we are trying to solely increase sales.

Facebook is a great tool which is well-known, perhaps because of its prominence in most people's day-to-day lives, but because of this it's often, perhaps 'too easy' to set-up and therefore, 'too easy' to make the above mistakes.


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