Rabushka's Rules: Facebook Etiquette
Do you ever feel like you might die if you don’t check Facebook? You know there’s nothing on there you need to see, but for some reason you still feel like you need to check.
Well, you’re not crazy.
Research indicates that the need to connect socially with others is as basic as food, water and shelter. But despite knowing this, many marketers find themselves frustrated when trying to reach people on Facebook – the ultimate human connector online -- and I believe that’s due to one simple concept:
The only constant on Facebook is change.
Every time you turn around, Facebook has overhauled its ad platform or updated its newsfeed algorithm. The mechanics of how brands interact with their fans and share content are always evolving.
The key is to embrace the fact that Facebook is ever changing.
To master the platform, then, brands should focus on understanding audiences’ deeper social motivations and learning how to build authentic relationships organically. To do that, here are some simple etiquette tips that will help brands harness the one characteristic of online users that will never change – the need for human connection.
Participate in the gossip, respectfully of course.
We’ve all been trained to associate gossip with rudeness and negativity. But gossip doesn’t have to be disrespectful or based on rumors. Gossip serves a basic human need in us, and if brands can learn to productively participate in the gossip that matters to their fans, or address that gossip to better communicate their purpose, beliefs or products / services, then why not use it as an avenue to reach people? It’s a way for brands to stay tuned into the matters that really get their audiences revved up. After all, gossip does come from a place of care. Mostly. Stay in touch with what means the most to your fans, what gets them talking, and use that to your advantage. Otherwise, you’ll simply be reacting to rumors that may or may not be true. Make sure you stay ahead of the messaging.
Listen to your people.
It indicates more mutual respect than you realize. It’s easy to react quickly to something that isn’t ideal or respond to something before you’ve really thought through the intent or motivations of the commenter. How is something so simple so easily forgotten? This is the core of all strong relationships. To hear and be heard.
“The most basic of all human needs is the need to understand. The best way to understand people is to listen to them.” – Ralph G. Nichols.
The biggest way to gain trust and respect from your audience is to listen and show that you’re listening by responding to the comments and reactions they’re making toward your brand. Listen to commenters on your blog post shares. Reply to posts on your timelines. Engage with those you like or who share your content and photos. Don’t ignore, avoid the subject or try to be right all the time. What does that solve? How does that fix misperceptions or concerns about your brand? It doesn’t. It just causes others to get defensive and stop listening to what you have to say, too.
Get close and personal.
Everyone jokes at the office about my social stalking abilities – but let’s be real, everyone does it and I believe it’s a crucial sign of resourcefulness in this digital age. Why not use the information that people make available to us to learn more about our audiences and those who are interested in our brands with delicacy? Why not use everything at our disposal to do our jobs as marketers and understand as much as we can about what drives and interests those people? It seems like a no brainer to me. People make this information public – why not get to know your brand’s fans and followers as much as possible, understand their character and get a feel for the kinds of human beings your brand attracts if you have the chance? There’s so much you can do with that information. At the very least, you can identify the crazies vs. the sane ones and market accordingly.
Be open to change.
If you know Facebook, you know Facebook loves to change things up on us about every five minutes. Right now it seems like the only way to get seen is to pay to promote your content, but even that could change. We can’t control how Facebook updates its algorithm, or its ad platform or how brand content gets seen by fans and followers. While it may be frustrating at times, I certainly wouldn’t recommend leaving the platform as a company – there are still a number of ways to leverage the channel to reach your key audiences (depending on your brand). Being adaptable and embracing the fact that Facebook changes every five minutes is the best way to deal with it. Stay on top of the changes – know about them and modify your strategy before they happen. Recognize how the ad platform can help you reach your audience and promote the thought leadership you’re sharing. Understand what outside widgets and tools can make it easier for you to do so. Read the most recent articles on sites like Social Media Today and Social Media Examiner. Don’t you try to understand your peers and what’s motivated any changes in your social group or environment? You should apply the same approach to your Facebook environment.
If you can tackle this always-changing platform by engaging with your audience authentically and intimately, knowing who your biggest fans and followers are, staying on top of the tools and resources available and understanding how your content is being marketed, I assure you, Facebook will really benefit your company. It’s the best way to personally get to know each and every one of your fans (aside from literally stalking them).
Be kind and courteous, of course, but utilize Facebook as a resource to truly identify and engage with those who could really love your brand and those that already do. Mastering the art of social etiquette on Facebook is just as crucial as having an amazing brand messaging strategy or website. Without it, the gap between your brand and its audience could be way too large to truly make an impact.