Facebook. It’s the place we go to keep in touch with old friends, to share moments of our lives with the world and to occasionally be bombarded by political discussions that we’d rather be left out of entirely. While Facebook certainly drives our personal lives significantly, it’s also one of the most important tools in any online marketer’s social media arsenal.

Some brands do really well on Facebook. These brands generally create a feeling of community on their pages, a place where like-minded individuals come together to not only discuss the products, but to discuss the lifestyle related to the brand. I see this a lot with cosmetics companies. The pages of popular cosmetics stores and lines frequently become popular hangouts for teen girls to chat about makeup, beauty and everything under the sun. Every online marketer dreams of creating a page like that.

Sadly, for every makeup company-turned-hangout-spot, there are thousands of Facebook brand pages that are real disasters. To ensure that you don’t fall into that category, here are the two biggest mistakes I see time and time again on Facebook, in addition to some tips on how you can avoid them.

Mistake One: No Clear Message

Unlike a Twitter account or a blog, a Facebook page really thrives on that aforementioned sense of community. Facebook is the best platform, hands down, for creating a conversation. Sure, people can communicate on Twitter and Instagram, but the structure of the conversation tends to be clunky and hard to follow. Conversations on Facebook are well-structured and easy to follow.

This is why it’s exceptionally important that marketers create a Facebook page with a clear message. By that I mean that not only are posts regular and frequent, but they follow a common theme. Remember, as the person with control of the page, you are the one guiding the conversation. Think of yourself as the host of a dinner party. If you bring up conversation points that seamlessly connect to each other with a good flow, you’ll have a lively conversation. If you randomly bring up whatever point pops into your head, the conversation will be a disaster.

That’s not to say that every single post has to be directly related to your brand. You can absolutely post popular memes and videos, just make sure that they tie into your overall theme somehow. For example, the aforementioned cosmetics company would be foolish to post a viral video involving a monster truck, but they’d be fools not to post a viral video of a girl using items from her pantry as makeup.

It’s not so much about posting things that relate to your brand as it’s about posting things that you know your target demographic is interested in discussing. This goes back to my emphasis on how important it is to understand your buyers’ persona. If you haven’t read my article about this, please do.

Mistake Two: Too Focused On Selling

There’s no web marketing professional on the planet who will advise brands to bombard their audience with ads on social media and yet so many companies seem intent on doing it. I can’t stress this enough: Your social media is about creating a conversation and a community that promotes the lifestyle related to your brand, not about spamming people with ads for your products.

In the early days of web marketing, people weren’t savvy enough to understand when they were being sold to versus when they were reading genuine content. This is why a lot of rather unscrupulous web marketers were able to make a lot of fast cash during the dawn of online marketing and affiliate programs. I can guarantee you that not many of those unsavory types are still working in this field today.

No one is saying that you can’t post things that promote your products. However, it should never be a bombardment of ads. Instead, it should be a soft sell that provides genuine content to the reader. To return yet again to the cosmetics company example (they really do well on Facebook), a lot of these companies’ posts announcing new products will be accompanied by a visually appealing video or photograph of someone actually using the product.

It’s also okay to post announcements of sales, discounts and promo codes. Just be sure to pace these well and not overwhelm your audience. People take advantage of these deals when they seem sporadic. If they see a new one every day, there’s no rush to buy.

In Closing

If you can avoid these two mistakes, you can use Facebook advantageously. Remember, your end goal on Facebook should be about creating an active community. Once you have that, those enthusiastic commenters will translate into sales. Create great content and you’ll enjoy great, loyal customers.

Happy Marketing

– Phil Fisk, President Coastline Marketing Group, Inc.