Social Media Strategy

Why You’re Pissing Off Half Your Facebook Fans

(Happy Holidays! I analyzed my Top 6 blog posts for 2011 by total page views, and am re-running them this week as a “greatest hits” compilation. This is #4. One of several posts I based on the outstanding research from my clients and friends at ExactTarget on how we REALLY use social media. Enjoy. – Jay)

 

Sure it has 600 million members and is significantly more compelling than any film made by Nicholas Cage in the past five years, but even with those inherent advantages, Facebook for business is hard.

It’s not just that Facebook has a distinctly Favre-like approach to features and decision-making. Or, that Facebook is very clearly in business to make money for them, not necessarily for us. Those are just the operational challenges.

The bigger gauntlet for marketers on Facebook is sociological.

Specifically, nobody knows what the hell Facebook is for.

The Social Break-UpNew research from ExactTarget and CoTweet (clients) called “The Social Break-up” studied why consumers turn their backs on social and email connections with brands. (see previous posts about this research and customer burnout here)

A Downright Scary WTF?

Within the findings is this frightening nugget:

  • 51% of consumers expect the company to send them marketing messages after “liking” the brand on Facebook
  • 40% of consumers do not expect the company to send them marketing messages after “liking” the brand on Facebook
  • 9% aren’t sure what to expect

Whoa. Even consumers who have purposefully and pointedly said “we’re on your team” by clicking “like” aren’t clear on the ground rules of the subsequent relationship.

Imagine if that uncertainty pervaded other elements of business. Imagine that customers weren’t sure if you would answer when they called you. Of if they ordered something on your website, if you would ship it out.

No wonder real Facebook success (not just fan amalgamation) is hard to come by – there aren’t any codified mutual expectations.

Age and Gender Influence Your Acceptance of Facebook Promotions

Whether or not Facebook is an acceptable vehicle for company promotion is influenced to some degree by gender and age:

  • Consumers 24 years of age and younger are less likely (40%) to expect promotions; while consumers 35 and older are more likely (55%) to expect them.

If your company’s audience skews younger, be cautious about promoting heavily via Facebook.

  • Regardless of age, 44% of men expect Facebook messages from brands to be promotional; 55% of women share that expectation.

If your company’s audience skews heavily male, be cautious about promoting excessively via Facebook.

Set Fan Expectations From the First Click

This uncertainly about what Facebook is for, and the consequences of “like” are an issue. Here’s my idea for solving it.

On your custom Facebook landing tab (Here’s a post on 5 ways to make one), instead of just selling the “like” to people who are not yet fans, also use that real estate to explain precisely what people should expect from your Facebook page. Special offers? Customer stories? Inside information about the company?

It’s been a long-standing tenet of email marketing that subscription rates increase when you supply a link to a sample email. This is because it gives potential subscribers a clue as to what they can expect to receive. Makes sense, right?

Is it time to extend that best practice to Facebook? What other ways can we reduce Facebook uncertainty?

(image by Shutterstock, a Convince & Convert sponsor)