How to alienate your Facebook audience

Last night, I was searching for the Facebook ‘page’ and ‘group’ of a freelance PR and marketing networking website that I have a profile on. The website appears to be moderately successful, judging by the number of individuals listed.

When I found the correct page and group, I was surprised to see that each had only three and two members respectively. As my mouse hovered over the ‘join’ button on the group profile, I saw the list of ‘related groups’ that the administrator had chosen. I immediately decided against it. Why?

Consider the message your ‘related groups’ send about your organisation

As you know, when you join a Facebook group, it shows up on your personal profile for your ‘friends’ and networks to see. If I had joined and they had then visited this group to see what I was supporting, they too would have noticed the list of related groups. These include a number of very political and right-wing causes, which I do not advocate and do not want to be seen to.

Facebook is in the interesting position of being a ‘cross-over’ social network. By this, I mean it began as a means of personal expression, but has gradually attracted the attention of businesses and organisations as they have realised its marketing potential. In addition, our ‘friends’ are not just our friends; they often include work colleagues and business contacts too.

If they’re not relevant, separate your personal interests from those of your business

The administrator of this particular group has made an error by confusing his organisation’s interests with those of his own. He’s alienated a vast majority of an audience that would certainly have an interest in the group and its aims, but not his personal causes and preferences. They should be kept to his individual profile for his own contacts to see.

This is currently a wasted opportunity and shows a surprising lack of foresight from a network that should, in theory, know all about PR and how best to market itself. It should replace the current groups with links to groups that really are related, of use and of interest to its potential audience. Then the network might see its Facebook membership numbers grow.

I’ve had a quick look online to see if there was any guidance concerning Facebook use for companies, in terms of marketing. Most of what I could find only concerned how to protect themselves in the face of employee Facebook use. If you know of any good guides, add a comment to share them here.

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