What's not to like?

Folks on Facebook are willing to throw a Like in a brand’s direction in exchange for more giveaways, fewer posts from the brand, and the ability to hide the fact that they like the brand.

I’m an avid Facebook user, but when it comes to this heavily trafficked social-media presence, I’m one of a billion. Talk about feeling invisible! Still, I represent valuable buying power and word-of-mouth marketing to companies that use Facebook. That explains why so many businesses use the site to represent and promote their brands, interact with customers, and more. But beware: You could be using Facebook ineffectively and not know it—alienating your biggest champions in the process.

Market researcher Lab42 ( recently published some interesting stats about Facebook use, focusing mainly on the Like function. The following are straight from Lab42’s survey of 1000 Facebook users: 87% Like brands on Facebook; 82% say Facebook is a good place to interact with brands; and, of those people, 35% say they feel brands listen to them more on Facebook.

That’s promising, but there’s a cautionary tale in other results: 46% Liked a brand but they had no intention of making a related purchase. In these cases, the Like stemmed from wanting something for free (52%), appreciating the brand but not being able to afford its products (46%), or Liking the brand to help a friend (24%). Do these numbers indicated that most Likes come from image-conscious goldbrickers who are willing to help their friends score discounts or free stuff? Well, Ferrari has nearly 10,000,000 Likes, but I don’t see the company giving away anything for free—and besides, only a fraction its Facebook followers could afford one of its cars—or, in this economy, fuel one.

Here are some more flashing, red lights for you: 73% Unliked (or is it unLiked?) a brand because the brand posted too frequently, because they actually stopped liking the brand—not to be confused with Liking, as in Facebook Liking, you see—or because of a bad customer experience. Responders also cited cluttered newsfeeds (47%), distaste for being contacted (36%), privacy concerns (30%), and a desire to only post things relevant to their lives (27%) as reasons for not Liking brands on Facebook. According to the survey, folks on Facebook are willing to throw a Like in a brand’s direction in exchange for more giveaways, fewer posts from the brand, and the ability to hide the fact that they like the brand.

These results should give you pause. If you find your print shop’s Likes are leaving, consider putting the following practices, based on the survey results above, into play. If you post frequently, think about restricting your activity a little and focus on only sharing your shop’s best on Facebook. Post a picture of the most outstanding garment design or graphic to hit your press all week or all month—not each day. Post a special deal or promo once, and then resist the temptation to drive it into the ground. Your biggest backers will see the news that one time and run with it for you. In fact, you should fight the urge to post more than once or twice a day, no matter what you want to share. You can’t please everyone, so even your best one-post-a-day strategy will hack someone off. Oh, well.

While you’re at it, make sure you’re not sharing sensitive information about your customers, their orders, their buying habits, distribution deals, and so on. Only post what they give you express permission to post. That includes pictures. Similarly, don’t reach out to individuals who haven’t opted in to receive direct contact from you.

Always remember that even though you’re a part of the printing industry, you’re actually still in the people business. That concept applies to what you do and how you act Facebook, too.

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