if a significant percentage of your customer list is friends and family, your data will be skewed all wrong and you might not reach the right people.

Now you need to get people to come look at it. The first option, at this stage, is normally to invite your friends to Like your Page. Facebook will even prompt you to do this, it’s a good way to generate some interest in your business and get your numbers moving – how else do you shift from zero Likes?

And while this is a reasonable and logical option, it’s worth noting that, eventually, having a heap of friends Like your Facebook business Page can be problematic – here’s why.

1. It skews your stats

Facebook’s Page Insights is an amazing tool, a powerful way to get an understanding of how your fans are responding to your content. Through Insights, you can learn what’s working, then double down on it, you can see who’s responding, where they’re from, and at what times of day you’re seeing the most visits.

Basically, Insights is an essential tool for those looking to use Facebook for marketing – but then, of course, the data is only good as the source info.

So let’s say 50 of your closest friends and family members have come over and Liked your Page. Great, 50 extra Likers, looks good when others come see your Page, excellent. But of those 50 people, what’s the likelihood of them actually buying what it is you’re selling.

Now let’s say you have 100 overall Page Likes, good start, moving along, so you check out your analytics to see where things are at. All your analytics data is going to be skewed by the fact that half your audience Like your Page but aren’t actively engaging with it. Because they’re only Liking your Page as a favour.

It’s fine to have those people Like your Page to start you off, but you need to be aware of how many of them are actually interested in your business, otherwise any decision you make based on your Insights data will likely be incorrect, as you’re trying to appeal to people who aren’t active customers.

2. It skews your ad targeting

In the same way, uninterested parties can also harm your Facebook ad response.

Through Facebook’s ad platform, you can create custom audiences like people who’ve visited your website and – a great one – “lookalike audiences”, where Facebook assesses all your customer e-mail addresses, matches them to Facebook accounts, then gives you a new audience of people who match the same traits and interests as those who are already buying your stuff. A pretty good way to reach potential new customers, right?

But again, if a significant percentage of your customer list is friends and family, your data will be skewed all wrong and you might not reach the right people. You need to ensure that you “clean” your customer contact info before creating a Lookalike Audience in order to maximize your results.  

3. It hurts your reach

Or, more specifically, it can hurt your post reach.

Facebook’s News Feed algorithm - which dictates which content is shown to which user every time they log in – takes into account a range of factors, one of the biggest ones being ‘engagement’. What that means is, your posts will reach more users if they’re generating Likes, comments and shares from your audience.

What the News feed algorithm tries to do is to show each user the most relevant content from their network. If someone’s a fan of your Page, you’re in their network, and if your posts are generating a lot of response, Facebook’s algorithm will take that as a sign that what you’re saying is relevant to more people, and will show it to more as a result.

If your Pages Likers are mostly your mates, and they’re not actively engaging or interested in what you post, they could be hurting your Facebook performance. If your posts are reaching their feeds and they’re ignoring them, that’s a negative signal, and Facebook will limit your reach – and potentially the reach of your future posts – as a result.

One possible option is to tell your friends to Like every post, which can help, but then again, problems 1 and 2 noted above are also impacted by that behaviour. Be aware of these elements as you go about your strategic planning and development.

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