Social Media: It Is What We Make It

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As a new presidential election nears, the environment on social media is already becoming extraordinarily contentious.

Here we go again. Over the next two years, things will get ugly.

People will rant. People will rave. People will engage in digital slugfests.

People will “unfriend” and “unfollow” relatives, coworkers, neighbors, and long-time friends…all because they turn differences in philosophies and priorities into personal insults.

Sigh.

But amid the chaos and combativeness, social media’s dark side has an alter ego—a platform for unification and support.

I’ve personally witnessed the power of people in our community pulling together through efforts to find a scared, runaway dog several weeks ago. And, early last week, after 14 people lost their homes in a disastrous apartment fire a few miles from my house, our police department’s Facebook page became a hub for community members to discuss how to help those displaced. Also, just last Friday, when an erratic driver crashed into a car with several Warwick High School students (two of whom have died since the accident), the outpouring of support for the families, school staff, and grieving community has been extraordinary.

Later this week, I’ll be expanding on my own first-hand experience with social media’s bright side in a blog post for #Strella Social Media. But I felt compelled to touch on it now, as well.

Social media—particularly, its tone and its temperament—is what we make it. It’s up to us whether we use it as a tool for fueling hostility or facilitating goodwill.

 

In what ways have you seen social media used to unify rather than divide? I’d love to read about your experiences!

 

Where Has The “Friend” In “Facebook Friend” Gone?

Social media has been an ugly place lately.Sad-faced emoji

 

Spewing of vicious insults.

 

Pointing of fingers.

 

Drawing microscopic attention to every flaw and foible.

 

Dragging of friends and family into the fray.

 

What’s that? You thought I was talking about Hillary and Donald?

 

Sadly, no. I’m seeing all of those things happening in my Facebook news feed and on the timelimes of friends, business colleagues, and casual acquaintances.

 

I’m seriously astounded—and sorely disappointed—by the show of intolerance of others’ rights to their own opinions on social media. Disagreement over who should be elected President should neither be a relationship deal breaker nor a free pass to trash others. The POTUS will be in office for four (or maybe eight) years. Disowning relatives and removing friends from your holiday party guest list in the heat of the moment could become lifelong regrets.

 

We all have to do a better job at accepting that people will disagree with us. And we have to do much better at realizing we can’t accurately make assumptions about someone’s personal nature when they see things differently than we do.

 

On social media, it’s not so much whether we support Trump or Clinton that shines a light on our true character; it’s how we treat and react to others—even those who have decided to vote for the candidate not of our choosing.

 

Are you fed up with the less than friendly way your Facebook friends are conducting themselves on social media? Have you had fallings-out with friends and family because of disagreements over the upcoming election? Please feel free to share (or vent) here—respectfully, of course!

Facebook “Dislike” Button: An Awful Idea & How Empathy Could Backfire On Your Brand

In answer to requests for a “dislike” button, Facebook has been developing a button that will allow users to express sympathy or empathy when clicking “like” Facebook Fjust doesn’t seem appropriate. The name of the button has yet to be announced, but it sounds as though it will be something more subtle (possibly “sympathize” or “empathize”) than “dislike.

 

Let’s hope so. A button named “dislike” is an awful idea. Rather than used as a tool for showing compassion, it would give trolls and the otherwise mean-spirited to more readily disrespect and demean others. There would be haters “disliking” posts that share others’ successes and good news.

 

Empathy And Engagement

While an empathy button may help engagement on personal status updates, it won’t likely be a big engagement booster for businesses. Businesses typically don’t post updates that warrant a sympathy or empathy response—nor should they. Who wants to see downer posts from brands in their news feeds? Not me.

 

But what about posting more updates that might prompt empathy responses on your personal Facebook timeline? Could it kick engagement up a notch for your personal brand?

 

In her recent blog post, Rachel Strella of Strella Social Media shares, “I try to put my best foot forward because ultimately, people will tune out the whiners.”

“However, I think that those who remain positive are seen as having the perfect life. There’s actually a term called Facebook envy, which is very real. We post what we want the world to see and for most of us, we want to present ourselves in the best light possible, but sometimes that display is not reality.”

 

Like Rachel, I tend to post about the positive, fun happenings in my life or about things that amuse me or make me laugh. If I’m sad, mad, in pain, or ill, I’m not impelled to air it publicly. Believe me, my life is way far from perfect and I realize that others who have a similar social media approach to mine don’t have perfect lives either.

 

So maybe you and I could garner a little more social media love if we were more open about when things aren’t going our way. If your personal brand shows more vulnerability, possibly making it easier for others to relate to you, could those stronger emotional connections carry over to your business?

 

Possibly, but I think it would be a dangerous strategy to embrace for three reasons:

 

  1. You’ll constantly be reminded of your life’s challenges as notifications ping you when people hit the empathize button or comment on your post. It’s tough to let things go and move on when you can’t catch a break from your troubles.
  2. Depending on what you post, your clients and colleagues might see you as a complainer, a crybaby, or a train wreck (or all of the above). Who wants to do business with someone like that?
  3. If you share too many empathy-eliciting updates, people might tune you out.

 

Easy Does It

I agree with Rachel’s statement, “In a world where we are told to be ourselves and remain authentic, it seems a struggle to share in a way that won’t reflect negatively, but shows we are human.”

 

Indeed, it is a balancing act.

 

Quick shifts and going to extremes will throw off the equilibrium.

 

What are your thoughts about the eventual new button on Facebook? Will it prompt more raw and real status updates to make us connect with each other better or will it further incent chronic complainers to air all that’s amiss?

Is It A Good Idea To Be “Friends” With Your Clients On Facebook?

“Blurry.” I can’t think of a better way to describe the line between “business” and “personal” on social media, can you?Modern-FB-Image-Canva-DMentzer

 

No matter what business you’re in…no matter whether you’re a business owner or a professional working for someone else’s company…at some point in time a client will request to be friends with you via your personal Facebook account.

 

Should you accept? Should you decline?

 

I was curious to find out how others in my network handle those requests from their clients. I’ve shared their interesting insight below. If you haven’t yet decided on a policy for handling Facebook friend requests from your clients, you might gain some clarity on the risks and rewards by reading further.

 

As for me, I do accept Facebook friend requests from clients—and sometimes even from prospective clients. I don’t, however, initiate requests to be their friends, because I don’t want them to feel put on the spot if they prefer not to mix our business relationships with the more personal side of our lives.

 

Overall, I’ve found that having a more personal connection with my clients has helped my business. Knowing about my clients’ interests, families, hobbies, triumphs, and challenges enables me to understand them better—and I believe vice versa. I’ve found that connection has created a stronger bond in business.

 

That said, it also makes me a little more cautious about what I post on Facebook. I generally refrain from liking, commenting on, and posting anything that is politically or religiously charged. I also steer clear of posting “woe is me” posts that complain about this, that, or other people.

 

To my knowledge, being friends with clients on Facebook has never hurt me professionally—it has helped me build my brand as a solopreneur.

 

But enough about me.

 

Here’s how several of my Facebook friends (a combination of clients, subcontractors, and vendors) handle “to friend or not to friend” situations.

 

Rose Boettinger, Freelance Writer and Virtual Assistant

I tend not to accept Facebook friend requests from clients.

 

Although nothing is private once posted on the internet, I believe “personal” Facebook accounts should solely be used as a means of communication with friends and family. If you become friends with your clients, they’re able to see everything you post (unless you adjust your settings accordingly for each post, which just wastes more time) and the frequency at which you post.

 

Clients may have religious beliefs and/or morals and values that differ greatly from your own and may be offended by some of what you post. They may also not share your sense of humor, again leading to your unintentionally offensive posts. 

 

Your clients may also be put out when they notice how often you post and when you post, noting that you aren’t serving their needs at that particular time. This may also lead them to question your work ethic and dedication to their businesses, despite the fact that you’re still providing them with quality service in a timely fashion.

 

I’ve only declined one client request thus far, and that was after explaining in person at my last meeting that I tend not to accept friend requests from clients—nothing personal. I then proceeded to tell the client that I have both LinkedIn and Twitter accounts targeted more towards my industry, and I’d be happy to accept any requests that may come to my LinkedIn account.

 

The client wasn’t offended, just slightly disappointed, saying he doesn’t typically utilize those particular sites as often.

 

A good way to avoid this snag would be to create your own [business] page on Facebook, separate from and in addition to your personal account. Note that pages are different than profiles (I’d be willing to bet not everyone recognizes that fact).

 

Kris Bradley, Internet Marketing Ambassador, MIND Development & Design

About three years ago I decided to friend people in my professional network on Facebook, which included prospective and current clients. I use a lot of discretion when I post, but my true self is visible on Facebook. I try to stay away from posting controversial topics (politics, religion, sensitive topics, etc.), but I do occasionally go down that rabbit hole. I had the mentality that I am who I am and I would hope that my professional contacts can embrace this. I would do the same if they either accept my friend request or I accept their request. 

 

I wouldn’t say that I can directly put a finger on any problems or issues that came from this decision, but I do know that some of my Facebook friends who are also professional connections have treated me a bit differently since I opened that door (friending them on Facebook) into my more personal life. When I say differently, I wouldn’t say in a bad way, but I can tell that their opinion of me has been altered by me allowing myself to peel back layers about myself that they might not have gotten from an occasional interaction via business or networking. Turning the tables, I can say that I have also formed some opinions of several of my Facebook friends whom are also professional connections. I guess it just goes with the territory.

 

As it exists now, I am very selective in friending clients. I have to have a good relationship and amount of respect for them on a personal level (and vice versa) before I will open that door and peel back those layers via a Facebook friend connection. A decent percentage of my professional communication on Facebook, mostly via Messenger, is on Facebook, so I would confidently say that there are distinct advantages to friending professional connections. A good alternative is Facebook Groups, which provides an excellent way to communicate about business on Facebook, but that is another topic for another day. 

 

Andy Garman, Partner and Marketing Director, Pipedream Marketing + Design

At Pipedream, we are very selective when accepting Facebook friend requests. We don’t initiate them with clients and typically don’t accept them. But we have a couple of longstanding clients with whom we have become friendly, and so we have accepted those friend requests.

 

LinkedIn is another story! We typically try to link in with all of our clients and prospects and we accept most requests from others to link in. Prompting the difference in how we treat those two networks is the inherent personal nature of Facebook and the business networking nature of LinkedIn.

 

Heather Kreider, Owner, Makes Scents Natural Spa Line

I feel very strongly that mixing business and personal beliefs/information is not the best choice for my specific situation. I typically do not accept friend requests from anyone that is not a personal friend, which is why I have very few “friends” on Facebook.

 

However, if I have built a friendship in the past with someone who happens to become a business partner, I will continue to be friends on Facebook, but am sometimes choosy with what I share with them.

 

In the past, I have been connected with managers of business partners and feel that doing so interfered with our business relationship. This may not be the case with all business relationships but in this one specific situation, personal information (the death of a loved one) was used against us in a way to justify an unethical situation. After this happened, I realized that sharing personal information with business partners was more of an issue than a positive. From this point on, I made it a personal policy to not become “friends” with clients on Facebook.

 

Although I have nothing to hide as an honest and genuine person, allowing a business partner into my personal life is not something that I want to allow. To be honest, so much can be misconstrued on Facebook, and I would much rather build personal relations rather than cyber relationship.

 

When declining an invitation to be a friend on Facebook, I typically message or email the client to politely tell them that I do not mix business with my personal life, and that I would be happy to connect with them on more business related platforms such as LinkedIn.

 

I have never had an issue declining a friend request. I typically do not receive many friend requests from partners, because I feel there is an unspoken social media etiquette or invisible line drawn in our industry to separate business from personal lives.

 

Jon Martin, Founder, Invoq Marketing

I do allow clients to be my Facebook friends, and often I initiate the friending process. 

 

As a friend, I am able to get a glimpse into their lives. I can keep track of important life changes, find topics (sports, TV shows, hunting, etc.) that I can potentially connect with them on.
At this point, being friends with clients has created no problems or issues that I am aware of. I very intentionally limit what I post on all platforms to be things that won’t offend my clients, and if I don’t want them to know something, I don’t post it on social media.

 

A few additional thoughts…

 

To friend or not to friend depends on your goals for your client relationships. I want to be as close as possible to my clients. I want to be the trusted confidant they turn to for guidance in making business and marketing decisions. The closer I can get on a relationship level, the more successful it allows me to be and to help them to be. The more I understand their pain points, vision, passions, and goals, the better I can serve them.

 

John Oppenheimer, CEO, 1 Sky Media

I consider myself an open networker so I will accept most friend requests even those from clients. I don’t actively pursue connections with clients on Facebook as I would on LinkedIn, but I do have some clients amongst my collection of Facebook friends.

 

We haven’t seen any direct orders as a result of these connections. I try to be conscious of what I post knowing that those beyond immediate friends and family will see it. Some topics will add to the friendly banter when we next encounter a client, something like “I had no idea you…”

 

We’ve encountered no problems so far as I know from being Facebook friends with clients. Again, I try to be careful not to post anything offensive or to like something that some people might consider off color, there have been a few exceptions with posts that were just too funny not to like!

 

Rachel Strella, Owner, Strella Social Media

I absolutely welcome being friends with clients on Facebook. In fact, I proactively “friend” my clients in most circumstances.

 

I consider my clients as friends—and even family—in some circumstances, so Facebook helps me to further my relationship with them. I like to know when their children have birthdays or when they’re going through a hardship, because these instances are not often something people share via email or another social channel.

 

In today’s world, there’s little separation between a professional and personal brand. One thing I’ve learned is that our business brand is only as strong as our personal brand. This is especially true for solopreneurs and small business owners. At the same time, I respect that clients may want to share their personal lives with only their closest friends and family. I would never overstep that boundary, because I understand that Facebook can be a personal thing to some people.

 

I don’t recall ever experiencing any problems with being Facebook friends with clients. In fact, it’s enhanced my relationships with clients, especially former clients because we have a way to stay in touch.

 

As you can see, there’s a lot to consider when deciding whether or not to “friend” clients on Facebook. Ultimately, you need to decide what makes you and your clients most comfortable–and what makes the most sense for your business.

 

Your turn! What’s your policy on friending clients on Facebook?

 

 

 

 

 

Are You Up To Speed On The Recent Facebook Page Updates?

These aren’t exactly breaking news, but if you’re not a social media community manager responsible for multiple Facebook business pages, two recent changesFacebook-Page-On-Mac may have slid under your radar.

 

Even though I post to my page daily, I hadn’t noticed them until about a week ago. I figure a few more of you solopreneurs and small business owners out there —and others you know—might have skipped over them, too.

 

Post Attribution Feature For Facebook Business Pages

Previously, Facebook enabled you to use pages as your personal self or as a page that you manage. When you chose one or the other, anything you did on that page—post an update, like, or comment—was done as whatever entity you were using the page as. Now Facebook has given us more flexibility by adding the capability to choose on a post-by-post basis. On each post, you get a drop-down box where you can choose from your personal self or one of the pages you manage.

Facebook Page Post Attribution Feature

You can read Facebook’s explanation here, but I think you’ll find these details helpful as well:

  • You need to be using Facebook via your personal account, not logged in as your page, to see the post attribution option.
  • The Facebook post attribution option is available on the pages you manage. You will see the option on posts when you’re visiting your page AND when you see your page’s posts in your newsfeed.
  • By default, your first choice on the attribution menu will be the page you’re on or—in the case of the newsfeed—the page that made the post.

This change will help companies infuse the personal touch on their business pages by making it more convenient for page admins to facilitate conversations and interact with others person to person instead of logo to person.

 

New Location for Facebook Schedule Feature

Although not a new feature, the scheduling option has moved. You could previously find the associated clock icon at the bottom left when creating a new post, but now it is somewhat hidden. You’ll still find it at the bottom of the post you’re crafting, but you’ll need to first select the up/down arrows directly to the left of the “Post” button. As always has been the case, you can only schedule a post when you’re directly on your Facebook page. You cannot schedule a post when posting from your news feed.

Facebook-schedule-feature-new-placement

At the time that I’m writing this blog post, Facebook’s Help Center hasn’t yet updated their instructions for scheduling posts. According to what I found on social media master Mari Smith’s page, Facebook is likely testing the new scheduling location on some, but not all, pages. Do you see it on yours?

 

New Save Draft Option

At the time of this post, this feature hasn’t been rolled out to everyone yet, but some page admins can now save draft posts. Along with the scheduling option, it’s located via the Post button dropdown. Thank goodness. Now you don’t have to completely abort a new post if you get interrupted or need to leave for a meeting before you’ve finished it.

 

What Do You Think Of The Recent Facebook Page Changes?

If you’ve been using the new post attribution feature, I’d love to hear about your experience with it so far. Do you see it helping you personalize interactions and make your page more approachable?

What do you think of the new location for scheduling your posts? A bit too hidden or intuitive enough that it really doesn’t make a difference?

And what about the new “Save Draft” feature? Please share your thoughts on that one. Time and hassle saver or nice, but not really necessary?

Get a Grip on Google Plus and Twitter: It’s All in the Lists

(Actually, in the case of Google+, it’s in the circles, but that didn’t sound nearly as poetic in the title.)Woman with tennis racket

Google+ and Twitter have become my favorite social networks for business. Like all online social media, they require time and ongoing effort to share content and interact with others. It’s not easy. But it can be easier if you have a system in place to streamline your activities.

Finding a way to effectively organize my G+ connections and Twitter followers has helped me immensely both in keeping tabs on and interacting with important contacts and in finding really good content worthy of sharing with the people who are following me. For both Google+ and Twitter, I use a similar approach for organizing the people and brands I’m following on those networks.

Two Google+ Circles and Twitter Lists that will simplify and streamline your social media efforts

VIPs

Create this list/circle and include all the connections you consider “VIPs.” Include clients, hot prospects, sources of referrals, etc.  It’s a list where you can place anyone you want to keep close tabs on and nurture relationships with. Keep the list relatively short (I’d recommend no more than 30 people or brands at any given time). On Twitter mark the list as private, so no one but you knows who is included (why risk hurting someone’s feelings or burn bridges when people discover they’re not on it!). Your VIPs may or may not be good sources of content that’s relevant to your audience. If not, it’s OK. This list is meant to ensure you stay on top of what these individuals are posting so you can show support, offer input, and give virtual high fives  to build goodwill.

Content Masters

It’s time consuming and frustrating to scroll through random posts in your newsfeed trying to pick out those that are meaningful to you and your followers. Instead, create a “Content Masters” list/circle and include people and brands who consistently post quality content that’s relevant to your audience and that you can glean knowledge and helpful tips from.  Make this list your “go to” place when you’re deciding what to post on your networks. It cuts through the noise, saves time,  and helps you stay on top of the content that matters most to you. As with the VIPs, you might also consider making this list a private one on Twitter to avoid hurt and hard feelings.

Related tips for managing your Google+ circles and Twitter lists…

  • Whenever following anyone new, take the extra 30 seconds it takes to view their posts/tweets to see if they’ll make good VIPs or Content Masters.
  • These lists are meant to be fluid. As relationships evolve and strategies change, remove people from your lists and add different people as you see fit.
  • For people you might not need to keep quite as close to the vest as VIPs and Content Masters, but who you don’t want to lose in the noise of the general newsfeed, create other lists/circles. Do it sparingly though. Only create a list or circle if you really intend to monitor and interact with the activity there. Otherwise, why bother?

 

While there’s no right or wrong way to manage your Google+ and Twitter connections, there are tips and tricks that can help you minimize your efforts and help you get a better return on them.  It usually takes a healthy dose of trial and error before finding a good system, so don’t get discouraged or throw in the towel. Keep trying until you discover an approach that works best for you.

By Dawn Mentzer
Another Insatiable Solopreneur™ post

 

Image courtesy of imagerymajestic / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Is It Time to Say Bye-Bye to Your Business Facebook Page?

As a solopreneur/small business owner, I’m getting more frustrated with Facebook by the day. I know I’m not alone. JustGood bye note recently the platform admitted to what most of us suspected all along, they really aren’t interested in giving your posts exposure to your audience unless you’re willing to pay to play.  This article by Ad Age explains it.

As I’ve seen my posts’ reach dwindle from a decent yet still annoying 35 – 40% to as low as 6%, I’m asking myself, “Why bother?” Facebook has apparently deemed my posts  unworthy of the attention of my fans (You know, the people who consciously liked my page so they could see my posts?) and has chosen not to display them in their news feeds.  Given that my posting frequency, interaction, and content quality have been consistent all along, there doesn’t seem to be much I can do to change the downward spiral. Except pay for ads or to promote my posts, but I won’t.

Like many other small businesses, my purpose for maintaining a Facebook for my business has been to build and nurture relationships, not blatantly sell my stuff. While they say they’re making these changes to improve users’ overall experience on the site, I’m failing to see how that will succeed. Won’t showing only promoted posts and paid ads to users subject them to more “push” marketing content and less authentic content meant to provide value and engage them in conversation?

Are you considering deleting your business Facebook page?

I am. I believe my time and effort posting and monitoring activity on my business Facebook page will be better spent building my interaction on Google+ and Twitter. Still, I realize it’s not wise to just jump ship and swim away from the fans who have been – when the omnipotent forces at Facebook allow them to see my posts – engaged and supportive.

Jenn Herman recently wrote a post providing some extremely helpful and practical tips on how to communicate with your fans about your plans to leave your Facebook page behind.  If you’re contemplating a transition away from your business page, you’ll want to heed her advice!

On Jenn’s checklist of how to prepare Facebook fans, she includes the tip “Don’t Go Cold Turkey.” I agree. A gradual exit will help ensure the vast majority of your fans are aware of your intent and have time to connect with you on other platforms before you officially cut the cord.

After your business Facebook page is laid to rest, you can still benefit professionally from Facebook!

All or nothing? It doesn’t have to be that way with Facebook. While I intend to put the ax to my business Facebook page, I’ll keep my personal profile alive and kicking. Heck, it’s the only way I’m connected with my fellow Oley Valley High School grads. AND a good many of the professional connections who are fans of my business page have also friended me on Facebook. AND I’m following their business Facebook pages (and will be until they, too, decide to delete them) through my personal profile. So as my personal self , I’ll have ample opportunity to build rapport and show support of their businesses on Facebook if they haven’t yet embraced other online social networks. Also, as appropriate, I’ll share content that’s business-related on my personal timeline. I’ve seen a lot of professionals do that successfully.

What about you? Have you seen your business Facebook page reach and engagement plummet? Are you planning to keep your page or ditch it?

P.S.  Please know I respect Facebook’s right to make a buck, but I think they’re approaching it the wrong way. They set the expectation among small business owners that the platform would serve as a viable, free tool for generating brand awareness and building relationships with customers. It was at one time, until they started tweaking their algorithms to the point where business page owners had to start standing on their heads and doing circus tricks to get their posts seen by their fans. Now not even the “tricks” work. Only cold, hard cash does…and not even for building genuine engagement. What if they’d instead offer biz page owners a subscription-based service (at maybe $9.99/month) to have their posts shown to page fans? I might consider staying if something like that were available. You?

By Dawn Mentzer

 

Image courtesy of gubgib / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The Perks of Crossing the Facebook “Friend” Line with Clients

As a solopreneur and professional services provider, you are your brand – so your clients can’t help but think of you andAdd as Friend your company as one. As clients get to know you and feel more comfortable with you, you can expect to get occasional friend requests from them on Facebook. Though some might “friend” you to dig into your background, I believe most simply and genuinely seek to reach a new level of camaraderie with you because they sincerely like you.

Certainly, some cons go with the pros of crossing the Facebook friend line, but there are some very real benefits to making your clients your friends. By accepting their friend requests and letting them into your personal Facebook world, you can:

  • Strengthen your bond – Having a means to communicate and interact on a more personal level can lead to  stronger emotional connections between you and your clients. They see you with your family…your friends…your pets. They get to know you more deeply and will feel more vested in you professionally as a result.
  • Impress – By seeing all that you’re involved with outside of your business, clients will get a feel for your sense of – and contributions to – your community. Demonstrating your commitment to improving the world around you can be a wonderful way to showcase your good works and give clients the peace of mind that they’re doing business with someone who cares about others.
  • Entertain – Assuming you’re a bit more casual in tone and in the topics you present on your personal Facebook account than you are on your professional social networks, your less-businessy, fun side will shine through. Your clients will relish getting a glimpse of your sense of humor and quick wit. And they’ll feel more at one with you having experienced your lighter side.

But before you get stoked about the perks potential from friending your clients, objectively evaluate whether your activity on your personal Facebook account will generate a positive or negative response. If you believe (or someone has told you) that your content is borderline offensive or inappropriate, friending clients might not be a good move for you professionally.

Also, set a policy for how you’ll handle Facebook friend requests from clients – and be consistent with it. Treat all clients who seek to cross the line the same. Assuming you value your professional relationships with all of them, don’t pick, choose, and alienate individual clients while letting others into your personal circles. That could hurt not only feelings, but also your business.

What’s your rule on having clients as Facebook friends? Have you ever ignored a client’s Facebook friend request?

Image courtesy of “Master isolated images” / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

“If Only Facebook Would…” Rantings and Rational Thought From a Facebook Page Owner

I admit it. I suffer from some degree of “entitlement syndrome” where my business Facebook page is concerned.

“How dare they not share all of my posts with my page fans?”

“How dare they decide what posts are important to me and which are not?”

“How dare they expect me to pay if I want my posts to get more exposure?”

Like a lot of other business page owners that I know, I’m frustrated. Whenever Facebook announces a new change, we see our reach take a nose dive and that leads to a lower level of engagement. It makes me aggravated, particularly because I’m posting the type of content that I know my audience enjoys and that has always lead to healthy interaction and conversation on my page.

It’s not fair. Or is it?

Reality Check
Facebook is free.

OK, not free in terms of time and energy, but free monetarily unless you opt to pay for ads, sponsored stories or to promote posts (that last one is what’s grating on most of us!).

Realistic Expectations
Do I…do you…have the right to complain about a platform that isn’t charging us a nickel to use it for the benefit of our businesses? Yes, it sucks that we’re not getting as much bang for our theoretical buck than before, but we’re still getting that watered-down bang for free. After all, Facebook isn’t a not-for-profit human services organization. It’s a business. As a business, shouldn’t we expect their folks to want to make some money off of their hard work, smarts and sweat?

Psychology
Logically, I think, “Yes.” Still, I find myself illogically feeling cheated. And I think I know why.

It almost seems like Facebook is holding our posts for ransom. If we pay up, they’ll let our fans (who presumably want to engage with us) see our posts again.

As both a fan of other pages and as a page owner, I think the concept of “promoted posts” is ridiculous. As a fan, I want to see what the pages I follow are sharing. That’s why I liked their pages. If pages post far too frequently and clutter my news feed or if they don’t post anything worthwhile, I want to make the decision about whether or not to hide their updates or unlike them. I’d rather Facebook not be the gate-keeper. And as a page owner, I don’t anticipate ever doling out the dough to promote a post.

On the Other Hand
But that’s not to say I would completely deny Facebook its right to monetization. What if Facebook would do like LinkedIn, Evernote, Buffer and Hootsuite do? Give page owners two options: one free, one paid.

We could choose a free “Basic” membership that throttles post reach in the manner it does now, or select a paid “Premium” membership that presents all of our updates in our fans’ news feeds. I would be far more open to paying for a Premium Facebook membership than I am to promoting posts.

As for price point, Facebook could conceivably do quite well if just 5% (1,850,000) of its 37 million pages would pay $4.99 per month for a Premium membership. I’d think an annual take of $110,778,000 is worthy of consideration. And of course they’d still have the ads and sponsored stories revenue rolling in…and they could continue offering the option of promoted posts to Basic page owners.

I’d pay $4.99 per month (Don’t tell Facebook, but I’d pay even more.) to know that I have the capability of delivering consistent content to my fans on my terms and theirs. No more guesswork. The burden of engaging fans and keeping them interested would wholly be on me – not on an algorithm.

Simple. Think it could work?

Time for your thoughts! As a page owner, would you be receptive to a premium membership type of offering if Facebook would extend it to us? 

 

Getting the Most from a Fan Page Follow Fest

I was skeptical at first when I commented on Mari Smith’s Facebook Fan Page Friday post last Friday morning.

“Please add your fan page URL or @ tag on this post or on my wall. It’s a great way to discover new fan pages, make new friends, and get new fans.”

I had been down that road before on LinkedIn group discussions, chamber of commerce Facebook pages and other social spaces that encouraged a mass “follow fest” – only to find lack of reciprocal participation. Disheartening most definitely. And those past experiences almost stopped me from making the effort on Mari’s page.

Not sure why I decided to do it anyway, but I’m so very glad I did for my Facebook page and two others that I assist with.

The results in fan growth:

  • My page – a 12% increase
  • Client A’s page – a 38% increase
  • Client B’s page – a 22% increase

Why such favorable outcomes when past efforts didn’t provide this level of return? Well, I think a lot of it has to do with the mind set of Mari Smith’s community of fans. She has built a following that believes in reciprocating – and knows the value in it!

Of course, it’s true that number of fans doesn’t always equate to quality engagement and conversions, but I believe this Fan Page Friday exercise was absolutely the right thing to do and well worth the time and energy expended for these reasons:

  • My two clients’ pages were just ramping up and had few followers. They needed a “shot in the arm” to build their numbers so their posts are more likely to get some air time and interaction. Maybe not all the new likes are in their target markets, but fan count and engagement definitely adds appeal and builds momentum. It certainly won’t hurt their pages to have a higher fan count – and judging from what I’ve seen so far from the new likes that came from Mari’s community, my clients’ pages will experience more ongoing likes, comments and shares on their posts.
  • In my case, virtually all businesses are either potential clients or sources of referrals.

I’m not sure how often Mari offers the opportunity to promote your business on her page, but I highly recommend that you “Like” her page and keep your eyes open for the next time she does. When the door opens again, keep these things in mind as you embrace the chance to expand your reach:

  • Over a thousand people commented on Mari’s posts that day – she actually did two identical posts, probably to keep the comment stream more manageable. Therefore it’s quite impossible to show love to every worthy page who participated. Take about a half hour to scan the thread to find and like business Facebook pages that fit one of these scenarios:
    • They might be potential clients.
    • They might be a good source of referrals.
    • They offer services that are complementary to yours.
    • They’re local.
    • You find them interesting.
  • If you manage more than one Facebook page, don’t undertake this exercise for more than two pages at a time. I had to step lively to keep up with three, and I’m so very happy I didn’t participate with all the pages I administrate. Just two would have been ideal.
  • When liking a page, do so when logged in as your Facebook page and also as your own personal self. Here’s why…
    • Business pages’ fan counts don’t increase when other business pages like them – only when unique people do.
    • You want to gain exposure for your business page, so make it easy for other page owners to discover and like your page in return. Logging in as your page to like them and when commenting on their posts makes your page known to them and their followers.
  • Write a note on the pages’ timelines that you’ve just followed to make them aware of your like and to introduce yourself, your business and the type of content you share regularly. With likes coming in left and right during an event like Mari Smith’s, it’s challenging to keep up with new followers. Your introduction will ensure you don’t get lost in the shuffle.
  • Reciprocate! Make the effort to like the pages that have proactively followed your page, and reply to comments that they made on your timeline. Getting off on the right foot by building goodwill will lay the foundation for continued interaction.

The incremental value gleaned from the several hours I had spent liking, reciprocating likes, and posting introductions and gratitude remains to be seen, but I’m encouraged. For me, it was a matter of being in the right place at the right time…for you, my hope is that you’ll put your senses on alert to purposely take advantage of the next opportunity to grow your network when Mari gives the green light!

Your turn! What success – or lack of – have you had with Facebook page fan posts that facilitate page likes? What growth have you experienced in fan counts and ongoing engagements?