According to an AT&T survey conducted earlier this year, 41 percent of small businesses have a Facebook page. Compared to a statistic of 27 percent one year ago, it is evident that this demographic is rapidly expanding. It goes without saying that it's becoming more important for small businesses to jump on board this movement as consumers become increasingly willing to connect with companies via the social networking site. At the same time, it's crucial to keep in mind that these same consumers have already learned the dos and don'ts of social media and will lose interest in companies that haven't. Here are some basic rules of Facebook etiquette for businesses to follow.
Too much of a good thing
Long-time Facebook users have come to appreciate the friend who updates regularly, but not overwhelmingly so. Those users who are constantly sharing insights and mundane tidbits about their lives are not usually considered to be ideal Facebook friends. Companies should understand that just because they have the ability to constantly solicit their "friends" doesn't mean that they should. Intermittent posts are better so as not to overwhelm people with information that they don't need, especially when it's coming from a company.
It can't all be commercial
If someone friends a business' Facebook page, it's clear that she's interested in receiving information about the company. On the other hand, most people who will warmly identify with a brand expect to see a semblance of a human face within a company's online presence. It is a good idea for small businesses to make posts, updates and messages that are not entirely about the company or an ongoing promotion. Interesting news stories, related press from the industry or even just jokes are a good way to make people want to stay friends with a company on Facebook.
Mix it up on different websites
According to the social media mogul's own records, there are over 500 million existing Facebook accounts. Twitter, which has much more limited function but is nonetheless a popular social networking site, has around 200 million users. It is fair to say that the majority of Twitter users also have Facebook accounts. As a result, posting the same messages and offering the same deals on both websites (or any other social media sites, such as MySpace) will be redundant and alienate users. Small businesses should create unique content for every platform they use.