Social media is a great tool for quickly disseminating information amongst friends and seeking advice. The question is, how accurate is the advice being given?
If there’s one thing recent high profile scandals at the international level have highlighted, it’s just how easily false information can be spread through social media and the impact that can have.
This weekend we became aware of an image being shared on Facebook, advising business owners on how their friends can invite all of their Facebook friends to like their business page in one go.
Whilst seemingly a good piece of advice, we are urging all small business owners to STOP and consider the implications of doing so of which they may not be aware of.
Whilst we aren’t quite accusing the Russian government of distributing this image to disrupt our economy, it could very easily have long lasting negative impacts on the individual small business owners who follow this advice and share it on in good faith.
In our opinion, it’s about as trustworthy for your business as the Momo Challenge is for your children.
We’re aware that the business owners following this advice are likely not be marketers or have any marketing experience. Many small business owners can not yet afford to pay agencies or specialists to manage their social media channels.
Whether it’s protein powder to get muscles or Juice Plus to make money, everyone loves the prospect of a ‘silver bullet’. The shortcut to success that requires minimum effort and gets maximum results. Unfortunately there are very few of these in marketing.
It is our position as a business, and my personal and professional opinion (I’ve got a good few letters after my name, experience under my belt and successes & failures to boot) that this technique should be avoided, here is why…
Facebook is continuously looking at your page and collecting data on who likes, follows and views it, and who engages with your posts.
This gives Facebook an idea of who you page is targeted at and is most relevant to, and allows them to then place it in front of more people like that.
It will show in the crowded timelines of your followers friends when they engage and also show as a recommended page to the people similar to your followers.
By inviting all your friends, and then asking them to do the same (and potentially their friends to do the same) you are essentially approaching your marketing with a scattergun approach. Your page will be populated with people who are not relevant to your business and will therefore be presented to more people who are not relevant to your business and not likely to ever use your service or buy your product.
You are essentially sending the wrong ‘signals’ to Facebook about who your customers are and therefore instead of presenting your page to your future customers, it’s showing it to a random hotch-potch of users.
Think of it this way. Your friends list is made up of a variety of people, from your grandma or auntie, to unknown Thai women that for some reason you accepted back in 2008.
If you own a Male clothing store and you invite all of your friends, and bless your grandma she wants to help and likes the page, then inviting all of her friends…you are essentially telling Facebook that your page is relevant to Females over the age of 80.
Now throw into the mix all the other people that make up your friends lists on top of that, such as people you’ve met on holiday, neighbours etc. and you’re giving Facebook too many ‘signals’ for it to realise a pattern. Instead of presenting your page to a highly targeted audience of Men aged 18 – 30, it’s pushed out to every man and his dog, and his dogs cousin.
There’s not much going back from that, other than going through your page likes one by one and removing them. A time consuming and laborious task that most of you won’t likely know how to do. Even then there is no guarantee that this will fix the way Facebook ‘views’ your page and optimises it moving forward.
Reach & Engagement
Let’s for arguments sake say that you’ve taken the advice from your well-intentioned friend and invited 3000 non-relevant people to your page, and a few of your friends have done the same and you’ve gained 1000 new likes on your small business page.
These people may have liked your page as a way to support you, but aren’t relevant and won’t ever use your business. They’ve essentially done this is a ‘one-time favour’ but they’re unlikely to engage with your business again. You’ve turned into just another page on their long list of hundreds of pages they’ve liked over the years.
Reach is the number of unique people who see a post or ad.
Facebook changed the way its algorithm worked for business pages back in 2018, meaning that the average organic reach (ie. not paid for reach) of posts dropped from around 20-30% to around 6.5%.
So for every 1000 people that like your page, on average only 65 people will see your post.
It’s a clever business model. Get the platform known and used by businesses big and small, show some great results and then change the way it works so to get anywhere near the same reach you’ll have to pay them money through the ads platform (Don’t even get me started on the boost button, that’s a whole article in itself).
It wasn’t all for monetary gain. As Facebook newsfeeds became more saturated with content, more pictures, more posts, more videos of cats playing the piano…it became difficult for organic posts to cut through the noise.
The way to rectify this is to look more at what is relevant to the individual (think back to my first point about the signals being sent), to encourage people to pay to target their content at people who have shown an interest in certain criteria and most crucially to this article, to look at engagement on pages and posts.
You’ve just invited 3000 people and gained 1000 people. Only 100 of which are relevant or interested in what you have to say.
The other 900 will not like or engage with your posts or page again. Essentially telling Facebook your content is rubbish and not worth populating the timelines of your other page followers or their friends.
You’ve got a higher number of followers, but a less engaged audience. Your likes and engagement are weighed against each other and you’re considered to be lower quality. Your posts reach even less people and your page isn’t put in front of as many people as it was before.
So what should you do?
If you’re going to invite your Facebook friends, you should only invite those who fit your target customer profile. Your what now?
We teach people how to identify and speak to their target audience by writing customer profiles. Identifying the demographics, psychographics and behavioural traits of the people most likely to benefit your business. That again is another article in itself and we’re happy to provide you with guidance on how to do it, but for brevity think of it as this…
- Working out what your customer looks like…their age, where they live, how old they are, are they a man or a woman (or both, who knows in this day and age)
- Working out what the customer wants…. what problems your service provides and what objections they may have to using your service.
- Working out where your customer can be found…what social media channels do they use, what tv shows they watch, who influences them, what books or magazines they read.
This massive simplification of the process is all you need as a small business owner to identify who you should invite and what you should be posting to get them to engage. You aren’t spending thousands on ads or writing a strategy, but if you want to know how to do it properly then get in touch!
Using a beauty salon business or nail bar as an over simplified example:
- Female Aged 18 – 35
- Lives within 2 miles of Preston city centre.
- Wants new acrylic nails for a night out at the weekend
- Has reservations about the price and usually uses someone else so isn’t 100% sold on using you
- Their usual salon is booked up and they need these for a night out in 2 days, you have availability
- They use Facebook & Instagram multiple times a day
- Read Women’s magazines such as Cosmo or Vogue
- Influenced by their friends and people they know on social media – has seen your work on Instagram.
This provides you with a rough guide on who you should be inviting to like your page. You can now go through your friends list and invite people one by one, ensuring the closest fit to your customer profile.
It might take longer than ‘inviting all’, but it will yield better results, set your business up in the long run and is a hell of a lot quicker than removing 1000 random Thai women from your page in 6 months time.
Some Other Ideas
There’s loads of other ways you can increase the number of people who like your page or gain additional reach.
Paid Social Ads
The best and most effective way is to use paid advertisements. Many small business owners will not have the skill set to do this effectively and may decide to stop after their first failed attempt. My advice, speak to a professional and get some advice.
This is how Facebook generate 80-90% of their revenue, it’s the way they want you to use and therefore is the most effective way to reach your customers on their platform.
Invest in your business and stop looking for the silver bullet of marketing. If it worked like that, everyone would be doing it.
Run incentivised competitions from your page that use your core offering/product/service as the prize. There’s no point giving away a holiday if you’re a pie shop. You will get lots of people entering but not many of them relevant. Use your prize to qualify the entrants as your target audience. Whilst the terms and conditions of Facebook forbid you from forcing an action in order to enter (although Facebook is awash with like & share competitions) there’s no harm in asking entrants to like your page as well.
Be careful you don’t fall foul of Facebook’s rules regarding competitions, read them here: https://www.facebook.com/policies/pages_groups_events/
As much as we make 96% of our revenue from digital marketing, we still can’t stress the benefits of face-to-face communication in building your brand and business. It isn’t a scalable solution ie. you can’t replicate it at large volume in a cost effective manner, but it could go a long way to building a core audience on your social channels.
Ask your paying customers to like your page whilst you are with them face-to-face and explain how it helps you.
If you want to take this one further and you have a brick and mortar business, you could even get a Facebook / Social Media Likes & Followers counter for your premises. We recommend the Smiirl counter, even if it is a little pricey at around £350.
See them here: https://www.smiirl.com/
We have one in the office that we use for campaigns to show how many people have given their data. It ticks over every 15 minutes to update the number and can be linked to your Facebook or Instagram account. People love the engagement of tools like this and will like your page just to see if it works!
If you have customer email addresses in a database, why not ask them to go over and like your page? Provide a link directly to your Facebook page and give them a clear bullet pointed step-by-step on what to do (people need to be told exactly what to do on the internet) and why it would help you. Incentivise it if you can.
Add a Facebook Like button to your homepage or blog content if it lends itself to it.
There are of course caveats to every rule. Certain businesses and circumstances may lend themselves to mass inviting.
If you are a local restaurant owner and your friends list consists of local people, it’s fair to say that they are relevant to your page and business. It’s a mass market, everyone needs to eat after all. Where that gets a little tricky is when you have people from out of the area or local people start inviting those from out of the area to like the page, there’s no control once it’s left your hands.
Have we ever used the invite all feature? Yeah!
There is some limited benefit to having page likes. They are a vanity metric in the most part and provide a level of social proof. When people see a page with 200 likes they trust it more than one with just 5 likes. It’s a psychological principle used extensively in marketing.
We are forever setting up small business pages to test campaigns or run paid campaigns either to establish new businesses ourselves or test the effectiveness of campaigns for our clients. We usually set up these pages, run a campaign for a month and close them down.
In order to get a volume of likes and quickly, we sometimes invite our personal contacts or ‘acquire’ likes from elsewhere. It doesn’t matter, because we aren’t using the pages for organic reach and we know we’re deactivating the page in the near future.
There’s likely other caveats and circumstances where using the invite all feature works and is a good idea, we just aren’t sure what they are. What we do know is they are in the minority and for most of you, you shouldn’t be doing it.
Remember people, this is the internet. People will share false information for a laugh or maliciously. Others will blindly share pictures and posts in an attempt to be helpful without checking the validity of the information they are providing.
Next time you see an image like this sharing advice for your small business, especially marketing, please please please come and speak to me or one of the team. We won’t charge you for a quick bit of advice or to provide an opinion if you’re a small business owner.
We actively support small business owners and especially those across the North of England. If we can help and even have a tiny impact and it doesn’t take too much away from our own business, why wouldn’t we help someone out who needs it?
Give us a shout on Hello@InvokeMedia.co.uk
01772 921 109