6 mistakes businesses make on Facebook

Mistake #2. Broadcasting to instead of engaging customers

Mistake #2. Broadcasting to instead of engaging customers

5 February 2019

By Antony Young

I recently met several business owners at a business consulting workshop. Several of them told me they personally didn’t go onto Facebook much. Yet, when I asked them how they heard about the workshop, they admitted they had learnt about it on Facebook. 

Facebook’s audience is massive.

  • 3.5 million New Zealanders are on social media, spending 1 hour and 53 minutes on it each day, with Facebook being the number one site, by far.

  • 82% of Kiwi mums check-in to Facebook every day.

  • 45% of Millennials are more likely to research a company on social media first. Millennials aren’t pimply teenagers anymore! In 2018, they’re between 22 and 41 - an increasingly important customer group for many businesses. 

  • The 55 pluses are the fastest growing demographic on the social media network site.

Love or loathe Facebook, it’s impossible for your business to ignore. 

Yet many businesses are failing on Facebook. In talking to hundreds of businesses around the country, here are six of the biggest mistakes I see.

Mistake #1. Treating Facebook just as a ‘freebie’ marketing channel

I get it if you’re a sole trader or start up. For them Facebook becomes one of the few channels they have to help get some visibility. But often I see larger or more established businesses make the mistake of not putting enough resources behind it because they think of it as just a low value “free advertising” channel that they can get away with delegating to “one of the young workers who’s quite handy with social media.”  

The reason you should be interested in Facebook is its enormous reach and its potential to bring new customers. For most companies, business development and customer sales is critical to staying in business or taking it to another level. Would you delegate that responsibility to a junior staffer?  Does spending nothing on customer growth sound like a formula for success? 

Mistake #2. Broadcasting to instead of engaging customers  

It used to be, that posting on Facebook was primarily about getting more eyesballs. But in January 2018, Facebook changed its strategy significantly, altering its algorithms to favour personal friend posts, thereby limiting the exposure of business and brand pages.  The impact was almost immediate. In the subsequent months after that announcement, we saw a drop off in the ‘reach’ of Facebook business pages between 9% and 63%. 

The implications are that your content on Facebook has to be more interesting and relevant if it’s to be seen.

And don’t think the answer is just about buying ads on Facebook as the less engaging ads (according to their algorithms) the more they will charge you to run them.

Remind yourself that your posts should try to get a reaction, open a conversation, be topical and useful to your audience.  

Mistake #3. Overlooking video

A Facebook video receives, on average, 135% more organic reach than a Facebook photo (Socialbakers) and video generates 1200% more shares than text and images combined. That’s a lot more audience and engagement.

Video is clearly a little more effort to produce, but the numbers don’t lie. Video can’t be ignored or put in the too hard basket. 

Facebook loves Facebook Live video which provides 6x times the engagement than pre-recorded video. John Kettle a Wellington real estate agent for Tommy’s broadcasts Facebook Live video apartment viewings that expand the buyers for his listings, and has been incredible in getting potential listers to seek him out. 

Mistake #4. Failure to respond to unhappy comments or messages

In the old days businesses feared a call from Fair Go, but today customers can and do air their complaints on social media more easily. They can take pictures and even film their interactions. Spare a thought for Viv’s Kitchen a café located in Sanson that got into a pickle when a customer complained to them on Facebook for not having a nappy changing table in the men’s loo and the social media attacks that followed. Knowing how to handle these sorts of issues is important insurance for your business. 

Equally, the consequences of not responding can be dire. 84% of customers expect a response on social media within 24 hours. Only a handful of companies deliver on that. Failure to respond tells your customers they aren’t important or you’re too disorganised to reply. Neither of those are a good scenario.

Mistake #5. Not having clear strategy for paid social media advertising

Often, I come across clients who say they’ve tried Facebook advertising and it hasn’t worked. However, when I dig into it and ask what they did, what I often see missing is a strategy. Spending money on Facebook without a clear plan of who you’re after, what you’re going to say and how you are going to track it can be a very costly exercise. 

The three most common mistakes in paid Facebook advertising are:

Boosting current Facebook posts. This is generally a bad idea. Eric Sornoso in his piece on BoostLikes.com covers this subject comprehensively. As a page admin, you are plagued by prompts to boost your posts on Facebook. “These previews encourage people to impulse buy advertising in order to boost reach. They’re a bit like junk food, a quick fix that won’t fill you up in the long term,” he says. More pertinently, using the boosting post function on Facebook while easier, penalises you by getting you to pay more than going through the Facebook power editor programme, as well as limiting your ability to enhance and test better options.

Targeting too broadly. The secret sauce of Facebook advertising is in its targeting. There are over thirteen hundred advertising target categories not to mention the ability to create custom target customer audiences. Choosing broad demographics e.g. area, age and gender give Facebook a wide berth to spend your money against eyeballs that may not be who your customers are or achieve as cost effective a response as you can. 

Viewing Likes, Comments and Shares as your primary success metrics. Sure, these are worth tracking, but getting to more meaningful returns such as lead generation, purchases, inquiries is advertising’s pot of gold. 

Mistake #6. Only being on Facebook

Facebook has a lot of reach, but there are a lot of other good options to promote your brand. At The Digital Cafe we promote business services on LinkedIn, retailers on Instagram and national company franchisees on Neighbourly.  We’ve managed business campaigns on NZ Herald.co.nz and brand campaigns on foodie websites. We’ve recommended clients to NOT go on social media when it’s warranted. In marketing there’s no one size fits all. 

So my advice? Put a plan in place. Have a clear strategy on how social media will help you to grow customers. Allocate a budget, and then determine how you are going to evaluate the results.


Antony Young is a co-founder and marketing barista for The Digital Café, a marketing agency that works with SMEs. They have offices in Wellington and Auckland. Before that, he spent 20 years working in New York, London and Asia for global advertising companies Saatchi & Saatchi and ZenithOptimedia.