Social media is like billiards (pool) : Everybody thinks they can do it. But the more you play, the more you realize the difference between a good player and a poor one.
In a recent article, I wrote about 8 Sure-Fire Facebook Post Formulas That Drive Engagement. In this post I’ll show you 5 formulas for creating terrible Facebook posts on your Facebook Page that you should avoid at all costs. These formulas will discuss topics, formats and common mistakes that I’ve seen on countless well-meaning Facebook Pages. Don’t worry – this won’t be another post about Amy’s Bakery Company.
A Facebook post can be bad for a number of reasons, but the problems mostly fall into just a few categories: Complexity, poor content and laziness.
In this article I’ll show you examples of the most common problems Facebook Page’s have with their posts and how they can be fixed.
#1 Most Common Facebook Post Mistake: Too Much Text
Facebook Posts aren’t for paragraphs. They need to be small bite-sized items that can either be digested right on the post – meaning they get the entire idea right from the one post and can easily like or share it – or will entice people to click a link to read a longer piece of content.
A good rule of thumb is to follow Twitter’s 140 character constraint. Every time you make a post limit it to that amount of characters. This will force you to condense your idea to its basic form and make it easy for your Fans to read and understand it.
Here is a recent example of this error by Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo:
This post appears to be promoting a “White Elephant Sale” take placing at the Zoo. Unfortunately they are trying to discuss three separate details about the event, making the post unreadable. I’ve broken it up into three separate posts that make the information easy to understand and digest:
1. There’s new props and decor for sale at the Zoo’s White Elephant Sale
Check out 11 fresh photos of the awesome props and decor available at the White Elephant Sale: [Link to photo gallery] [Image of an eye-catching prop or decor piece]
2. Information about lining up early for the White Elephant Sale
Want to line up early to make sure you get in on the sale?
No problem! But if you want an extra jump on the crowds get yourself an Annual Zoo Pass to get in 1 hour before the general public: [Link to buy annual pass]
I added the photo above of a massive crowd trying to get into a building for two reasons:
1. Photos, especially of extraordinary things like huge crowds of people, are the most eye-catching type of contest on Facebook. This will attract more readers than just the text alone.
2. The massive crowd will entice people to think about purchasing the Annual Zoo Pass to avoid a similar situation
3. Information about purchasing large items from the zoo’s gift shop
Thinking about purchasing a large item at our White Elephant Sale?
You can make your purchase at the sale and make arrangements to return to the zoo with an appropriate vehicle later
This photo of the hilariously overloaded car will catch the eye of many people and entice them to read the text to see what it’s related to.
#2 Most Common Facebook Post Mistake: Including Multiple Links
Each Facebook Post should include one call-to-action to achieve one goal. Providing multiple calls-to-action will only serve to confuse users and make it harder for them to digest the post – which will destroy your post’s click-through rate.
Think of each Facebook Post like an online ad – it should succinctly provide a single valuable offer – be it an image, video, ebook or product information – designed to entice users to take an action.
Here is an example of a post with multiple links from Brazilian baby products retailer Baby.com.br:
MOM, get to know the advantages and differences of Urban strollers, Baby exclusive release: http://bit.ly/15odgxW
And enjoy, the cart is on sale for $ 69.90:http://bit.ly/147W8wZ
Although both links are related, it would serve the brand and users better to have them as two separate posts. Or better yet, have a single link to an article that discusses the differences of the strollers that are on sale, providing links to each stroller within the article itself.
I would go with the second option: An article that provides information on how to make a knowledgeable stroller purchase provides real value to users. The sale information does not. This type of promotion should be used in flyers and on their website, not their Facebook Page.
As we’ll see next, directly promoting a product or your business is the third most common Facebook post mistake you can make.
#3 Most Common Facebook Post Mistake: Directly Promoting a Product or your Business
These posts make me cringe.
Most times posts that directly promote products or sales come from businesses that are new to Facebook. They try to use it the same way that they use traditional marketing like flyers and print ads and fail, leaving them thinking that Facebook doesn’t work.
Now, it is OK to promote your products or business in your Facebook posts, but you need to be creative. These posts need to provide some value for users, either in the form of entertainment or valuable information. Let’s take a look at two Facebook posts that are promoting products: One that’s just trying to sell and another that’s providing value:
Here is a post directly promoting a product the wrong way. It’s purely a sales pitch and provides nothing of value for the Page’s fans. (Don’t let the number of Likes fool you – Sears has millions of fans and regularly gets thousands of Likes per post. In comparison this post’s engagement level is very low):
This next post is quite obviously promoting Lowe’s sprinklers, but provides entertainment value in the form of nostalgia. Everyone has great summer memories of jumping through sprinklers as kids. This post rekindles those memories and makes you think of the product as a fond memory, as opposed to just an object:
Facebook Posts about sales and promotions are also OK, but there are best practices to follow to keep them from being complete sales pitches:
1. Make it SUPER easy for fans to get the deal/discount you’re providing
2. Make it exclusive for Facebook fans only – by either Like-gating the coupon or only posting about it on Facebook
3. Give ideas or examples of what your fans can buy
**Bonus: Provide a coupon code to use for online purchases. This gives the allure of a sale being extra exclusive to holders of the coupon code and no one else.
#4 Most Common Facebook Post Mistake: Not Responding to Negative Comments
One important thing to remember about Facebook (and social media in general) is that your work is not final when the post is made. You must monitor your posts to watch to see their level of engagement, to help optimize your future activities, and respond to user comments.
Every comment that asks a question, makes a suggestion or includes negative feedback must be responded to by the Page (comments like “I love it!” or “I do that to!” do not require responses). If you leave these unattended it will make your fans feel unappreciated and will deter any future commenters.
Negative comments especially must be addressed in a timely manner to stop any ill will within the commentor or other fans who see the comment. You must always explain your side of the story right there. You can’t wait until a week later to send out a heavily calculated press release on the matter.
Here is an example of what can happen when a negative comment is left to fester. These tend to attract other negative feelings and comments about a business, even if they have nothing to do with the original issue:
Here is an example of a quick response from Lowe’s Home Improvement. They actually built a custom app in one of their Facebook Page’s Tabs for people to post their negative comments. I’m not sure if this is their way of trying to defer negative comments from their Timeline to a Tab where fewer people will see them or they are trying to provide an easy way for people to speak their minds. Either way I think it is a smart move by them.
In these types of responses it is especially important to speak in a personal tone. Writing a reply in the style of a corporate statement or press release will only make fans feel like they are being brushed off and unhappy.
One thing to remember about negative comments is that they are a good thing. If a person posts about a negative experience with your business it gives you a chance to get the customer back and show others that you care. If the customer doesn’t give you their feedback and simply stops shopping at your store then you’ll never have that chance.
#5 Most Common Facebook Post Mistake: Begging for Likes and Shares
Asking people to like and share your Facebook posts, and especially your Facebook Page, is a big no-no. This sounds like begging and will turn most people off. You need to provide some form of incentive or interest to propel people to engage with you. Liking and sharing can be the mechanisms that people are told to use to engage with you, but it has to be done in a way that is fun or useful.
Here are two Facebook posts, made right after each other, from Walmart showing both the right and wrong ways to drive Likes and shares from Facebook posts. The post on the left is asking people to share the Facebook post to tell their friends about a sale happening at Walmart. This can be taken as basically asking you to spam your friends. And it provides no interest or value for the person sharing. The post on the right is done correctly. It’s giving people a venue to express their opinion on how they like their steak cooked, which for some people is a part of who they are! As you can see its getting much more engagement:
While I’m on the subject: Please avoid asking people to Like your Facebook Page without providing an incentive for them to. It’s OK to put a call-to-action for people to Like you on your website, but to truly drive more Likes it needs to include a reason for them to click. Here are a couple of examples of good incentives you can use:
1. “Like” us for Fan-only coupons and contests
2. “Like” us for Facebook-exclusive behind-the-scenes photos and videos
3. We announce all new stock shipments on our Facebook Page first. “Like” us to stay in the loop
** Bonus: Use shortlinks, not full URLs
Shortlinks originally became popular due to Twitter’s 140 character limit, but are a great way to improve your Facebook posts. A link shortener, like Bitly.com, allows you to input a web address of any size and outputs a unique, shortened URL in return,
A post with a full URL can look a bit messy, as you can see below:
Check out an example of a Facebook post using a shortlink below. It makes the post much shorter, cleaner and easier to read. You can easily shorten your links for free at Bitly.com.
Lowe’s Home Improvement has gone the extra mile by purchasing their own branded short link. It can be hard (and sometimes expensive) to secure a unique URLs, but adds a professional, branded touch to each of your posts. You can search for available URLs on site like domain.com and godaddy.com.
With this information under your belt you’ll be able to avoid simple errors that are hurting otherwise great Facebook posts. The next thing to do is test different Facebook post formulas to see which resonates best with your fans. Try different combinations of text, links, images and videos to see what gets the most engagement and clicks.